BROUSSARD, La. – Darron Stiles fired a 7-under 64 Friday to move into the 36-hole lead at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open, the first domestic stop on the 2013 Web.com Tour schedule.
Stiles followed the script perfectly at Le Triomphe Country Club with birdies on all four par 5s and then closed with another birdie putt from 18 feet on his final hole to finish at 11-under 131 and take a one-stroke lead over Arjun Atwal (65).
“I made the putts you’re supposed to make today,” said Stiles, who is 8 under on the quartet of par 5s. “To me, that’s the key on this golf course. If you can get the par 5s and then get one or two somewhere else, that’s six a day and that will usually get it done.”
Stiles had only 26 putts on the day and the biggest came at the par-4 14th hole, which plays as the toughest of the bunch.
“I was surprised it went in. Fortunately, the hole got in the way,” he said of his 27-foot birdie effort. “If not, I might have been chipping. It’s all straight downhill past the hole and it could have easily been 10 to 12 feet by. I think my caddie had the wedge ready for me.”
That putt, and the closer at the last, were the only two sizeable birdie putts among the eight he chalked up.
Atwal closed strongly during his round, finishing with three consecutive birdies and four in his final five. He was buoyed by an eagle-3 at No. 1, which came on the heels of a double-bogey at No. 18.
“That double at 18 was kind of exciting,” he said. “It came out of nowhere. I blocked my tee shot right and into the water and then I had to drop way back. I still had 235 (yards) to the pin.”
Boise’s Troy Merritt (66), Jason Gore (65) and Ben Martin (67) lurk two shots off the pace heading into the weekend.
Another five players are just three back, including past champion Brett Wetterich (66), who is trying to become the first player in Web.com Tour history to win the same event three times.
Second-Round Notes and Quotes:
--A total of 69 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-under-par 140. Last year’s cut was at 4 under par.
--Byron Smith had a hole-in-one at the 191-yard sixth hole. Smith used a 7-iron for his third career ace.
“When I say three, I’m counting the one I made when I was 10,” he said proudly. “I had too much club for that back pin today. I couldn’t tell if I airmailed the green but then there was hootin’ and hollerin’ by the fans up there. I was really relieved because that thing needed to sit from the get-go. If that ball hit the ground it was gone.”
Smith fired a 5-under 66 and stands 7 under (tied for 11th) through 36 holes.
--Rookie Chesson Hadley chalked up nine birdies during his second-round 65. He’s 6 under after two rounds and tied for 13th.
--Aaron Goldberg’s 8-under 63 is the best round of the tournament thus far. He was bogey-free on Friday and is tied for 13th. His 63 matched his second-best effort on Tour (2011 Cox Classic/R1). His career-low is a 9-under 62 in the opening round of the 2012 Cox Classic.
-- Jason Gore (Nos. 1, 5) and John Hurley (Nos. 5, 12) both had a pair of eagles during their second round.
-- Fan favorite John Daly birdied the final hole for a 2-over 73 and wound up missing the cut by one stroke. Daly closed his front nine with four birdies in five holes and was 7 under at the turn. After a par at No. 10, he gave seven shots back to par over the next four holes.
“It’s kind of a shock thing, really,” he said. “Next thing you know, a triple and a double and I really didn’t miss any golf balls. I’m hitting the ball so good though. I just didn’t make a lot of putts. I can get over triples and doubles but when you putt as bad as I did today that makes it tough.”
Daly finished with 32 putts on his round.
“I hung in there,” he said. “It’s just the funk that I’m in and like I’ve said, if there were 14 holes on every golf course I would have won a lot of golf tournaments.”
--Michael Smith fired a 6-under 30 on the front nine Friday. He finished with a 6-under 66 but missed the cut.
--Monday qualifier John Hurley of Texas A&M had a pair of eagles Friday en route to a 4-under 67. Hurley finished at 2-under 140 to make the 36-hole cut on the number – his first career cut in four total starts.
It’s been a wild week for the 25-year-old, who got married in Spring, Texas, (near Houston) last Saturday. He then drove 3 ½ hours Sunday night and teed it up in the open qualifier at The Wetlands Course. Hurley fired a 67 on a course he’d never seen before and gained a spot in this week’s event, his first start of the 2013 season.
Hurley’s wife, Lyndsey, is a second-grade school teacher who was back at work this week after the couple’s spring break wedding and will be headed to Lafayette to see her husband play.
“I’m playing in Brazil in two weeks,” said Hurley. “That’s going to be the honeymoon.”
--The Le Triomphe CC course seems to hold some magic for two-time Louisiana Open winner Brett Wetterich, who moved into contention with a 5-under 66. Wetterich, who won here in 2003 and 2011, is now 8 under and tied for sixth place.
"I don’t know what happens,” he said of his stellar play in Lafayette. “I’m happy to be here. The course fits my eye better than anywhere else. I’ve met a lot of good people here. It’s almost like being at home except for the sleeping in a hotel room.”
Confidence seems to be the key for Wetterich, who is making his first start of the 2013 season.
“I didn’t feel great when I got here. Monday I hit balls and Tuesday I told my caddie that I just didn’t feel good about it,” he said. “Then Wednesday it got a little better and Thursday I played good. It’s just getting better each day.”
Wetterich is in position to become the first player in Web.com Tour history to win the same event three times. He is one of 12 players who have won the same tournament twice.
--Saturday’s third-round play will be in threesomes off the first and 10th tees from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Tee times were moved up in anticipation of possible afternoon storms.