Flores leads Web.com News Sentinel Open by two after bogey-free round

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PGA.com news services

Series: Web.com Tour

FARRAGUT, Tenn. – Erik Flores got off to a nice start on Friday, making birdie on his first hole of the day at the News Sentinel Open on the Web.com Tour. He would go on to make five more en route to a 6-under 66 at Fox Den Country Club, and his bogey-free round put him at 11-under par 131, good enough for a two-stroke lead after two rounds.

Mathias Gronberg, Hudson Swafford and Darron Stiles share second place at 9-under 133.

NEWS SENTINEL OPEN

Jeff Maggert won the inaugural edition of the News Sentinel Open, then known as the Ben Hogan Knoxville Open, in 1990.

Seven players are at at 8-under 134, three-shots back. Players in this group include: James Sacheck, Shane Bertsch, Adam Hadwin, Kevin Foley, Neal Lancaster, Patrick Sheehan and Will MacKenzie.

First-round leader Casey Wittenberg struggled on Day 2, shooting a 1-over 72 and falling in to a tie for 12th.

Flores put a premium on getting the ball in play off the tee, hitting 11 fairways in his second round. The California native believes that once you’re in the fairway, it’s time to be aggressive.

“To me, driving accuracy has been the key this week and my irons are on,” the 25-year-old explained. “I was in a really good position off all the tees. So with wedges in your hand, you pretty much fire at every flag.”

The Web.com Tour rookie missed the cut in his last start at the Midwest Classic. While no player likes missing the cut, Flores put a positive spin on the situation and believes that his game is going to come together as a result of it.

“Missing the cut last week was really good from the standpoint that it allowed me to take a couple of days off,” Flores revealed. “And I just know it’s going to click, the ball striking and the putting have not come on at the same time. Those aspects of my game are strong; it’s just that when they are going together they are a lot better.”

Flores was a part of a UCLA golf team that won the national championship in 2008. With success like that at the collegiate level and making the cut in his first five starts on the Web.com Tour this year, the second-year pro seemed to be headed in the right direction. But he would go on to miss nine cuts and realize that there is a bit of an adjustment period between the two lifestyles.

“The travel is intense, not being with loved ones and learning a different golf course each week because every course is pretty much new,” he commented. “Also it’s quite an adjustment, playing so many days of golf in a row.”

It appears the second-year-pro has made the appropriate adjustments and is growing into in his new surroundings as the year progresses.

“I have dreamed of playing with these guys and I have gotten a lot more comfortable as the year goes on,” Flores said with a smile. “And it’s been fun beating them this week.”

With a two-shot lead heading into the weekend, it’s very easy to get distracted by everything that is happening on and around the golf course. Flores believes that he must focus on his own game to continue his success.

“I’m not really a big leaderboard watcher,” the California resident noted. “I think when you’re playing well, you just kind of zone out from the scores. I’m not going to watch tomorrow, I will just be playing hard.”

Of those chasing, no one seemed more relaxed on Day 2 than Hudson Swafford. The Stadion Classic winner fired a 5-under 66 and is currently in a tie for second. The Web.com Tour rookie currently sits at 13th on the money list, but knows there is still time to improve on that number.

“My goal is to at least be in the top six on the money list, Swafford admitted. “Of course everyone wants to be in that number one spot for next year, but 13 is not where I want to be. So, I have a lot of work to do.”

With two rounds left, Swafford and many others know that they have their work cut out for them if they want to win this tournament. 

Second-Round Notes:

--Brad Adamonis withdrew after four holes with a back injury.

--The cut came at 139 (-3) with 75 players making it into the weekend.

--The next stop on the Web.com Tour is the Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Pa., Aug. 27-Sept. 2.