POTOMAC, Md. -- Sweden’s David Lingmerth battled back from a back-nine triple bogey Friday to shoot a 4-under 66 and take the 36-hole lead at the Web.com Tour’s Neediest Kids Championship outside of Washington, D.C.
Lingmerth rallied with three birdies on his final six holes to close at 8-under 132 at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. Monday qualifier Josh Persons (68) and Canada’s Brad Fritsch (66) are one shot back heading into the weekend.
Tom Hoge (65) and Australia’s Bronson La”Cassie (67) are two strokes off the pace while Alistair Presnell (70), another Aussie, is three back.
Friday’s second round was halted by darkness with three players left on the course, and they will return to finish Saturday morning. A total of 67 players are projected to make the cut, which will be at 2-over 142.
Lingmerth was cruising along and chalked up five birdies in his first 10 holes and took temporary possession of the lead at 8 under. His problem at the 470-yard 11th hole started with his tee shot.
“The ball hit the fairway and then trickled into the first cut of rough,” he said. “There was mud all over it. I couldn’t even see the ball at first.”
Because he missed the fairway, Lingmerth wasn’t able to take advantage of the lift, clean and place conditions and wound up smacking his 4-iron from 210 yards into the hazard that guards the right side of the hole.
“I don’t know if it was the mud or it was me,” he said of his second shot. “The ball was sitting up in the hazard and I thought I could get it on the green. That stuff is tricky. My club just got stuck and the ball didn’t go two feet. It went deep in the grass so I had to take a drop.”
He wound up missing a 12-footer for double bogey and penciled in a 7.
“Obviously, it was a big letdown,” said Lingmerth, who still calls Arkansas home. “I think I got a little bit flustered after that because I didn’t hit very good tee shots on my next couple of holes.”
Fortunately, the former Razorback had the putter working.
“I had it going today,” he said. “I’m finally making some putts. I’ve been searching for it all year. This week it’s just been some small things in my set-up. It’s about hitting it from a comfortable spot and just trusting my stroke.”
Early in the day, it looked like a pair of North Dakota buddies would own the spotlight.
Hoge and Persons grew up playing junior golf together in Fargo -- which is facing blizzard-like conditions this week. The pair also share the same teacher, practiced together early in the week and have been regulars at dinner each night.
“He’s a good friend of mine,” said Hoge. “We grew up playing together since I was about 10 years old. He’s kind of one of the guys I looked up to. It’s fun to see both of our names up on top right now.”
The pair have taken different paths to get there. Persons, making only his second career start on Tour, has been bogey-free for the first two days. Hoge, a rookie on Tour, has struggled to hit fairways (15 of 28) but has been saved by his putter.
“The last few weeks I’ve been trying to get it on the green and find a way to make a putt,” said Hoge, who had his coach – PGA Professional of Oxbow Golf and Country Club -- leaving the snow of Fargo for the nation’s Capitol. “Hopefully he can get me heading in the right direction again.”
--Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the first round and second round.
--Three players in the field of 144 did not complete play Friday. That group has two holes to finish on the front nine and will resume play at 8:00 a.m. Saturday. Of the three, only Monday qualifier Tain Lee (-1/tied for 23rd) has a chance to make the 36-hole cut, which will be at 2-over 142.
--This will be only the sixth time in 24 tournaments that the cut will be over-par and just the second in the past 18. The last time the cut was over par was the Mexico Open, the 11th event on the schedule.
--Only 25 players posted below-par scores in Round 2. The scoring average is currently at 72.458.
--Third-round play will be in threesomes off the first and 10th tees starting at approximately 9:45 a.m.
--David Lingmerth is No. 27 on the money list, the same place he finished the 2011 season. This week’s first-place check of $108,000 could propel him into the top 10 and secure a spot on the PGA Tour in 2013. Lingmerth, in search of his first career title, had missed the cut in five of his previous six starts coming into this week.
--Leading money winner Luke Guthrie missed the cut, shooting scores of 75-69 (+4). Guthrie had won his previous two starts (Albertsons Boise Open and WNB Golf Classic).
--TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm underwent a $32 million renovation, which began Aug. 13, 2007. The clubhouse reopened on July 22, 2008 and the golf course reopened for play on April 28, 2009. Prior to the renovation, the course measured 6.987 yards and played to a par 71. This week the players are playing a course that measures 7,139 yards and for a par of 70. Ben Curtis won the 2006 Booz-Allen Classic by five shots with a 20 under par score.
--Fernando Mechereffe (rib), Kelly Gibson (shoulder) and Craig Bowden (blisters) all withdrew during the second round due to injury.
--Troy Merritt aced the 224-yard, downhill 17th hole using a 4-iron. It was the third hole-in-one of his life, but his first in competition. Merritt’s previous two aces both came in 1997, when he was 11 years old. Merritt will turn 27 in three weeks.
-- 10 players have started all 24 tournaments this season: Alex Aragon (No. 24), Cliff Kresge (No. 34), Aaron Goldberg (No. 35), Tim Wilkinson (No. 52), Jeff Gove (No. 57), Derek Fathauer (No. 59), James Sacheck (No. 69), Brad Adamonis (No. 100), Oscar Serna (No. 106) and Ryan Armour (No. 108). Russell Henley started all 23 events but decided to take this week off after winning last week’s Chiquita Classic.
--21 of the top-25 leading money winners were entered this week. The ones missing were: No. 9 Cameron Percy, No. 12 Russell Henley, No. 15 Shawn Stefani and No. 16 Andrew Svoboda. Henley was a playoff winner last week at the Chiquita Classic, his second career title.
--The Web.com Tour will head to south Florida next week for the Miccosukee Champoionship near Miami. The tournament will be played at Miccosukee Golf & Country Club Oct. 8-14. Last year, Jason Kokrak pulled away from the field on the final day to win by a tournament-record seven strokes, collecting his second win in five weeks. Kokrak started the final round with a three-stroke lead and was never seriously threatened en route to a 20-under 264 total, which also set a tournament record.