Murphy maintains lead after second rainy day at Nationwide CHI

By
PGA.com news services

Series: Web.com Tour

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Mother Nature put the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational behind schedule for the second straight day on Friday when early evening thunderstorms crept close enough to the Ohio State University Scarlet Course to force officials to suspend play.
 
Trevor Murphy, who matched the course record with an opening 8-under 63 Thursday, didn't tee off until 4:20 p.m. and managed to get in only 11 holes before play was halted at 7:35 p.m. The 27-year-old Vermont native countered an early bogey with a pair of birdies and currently stands at 9 under par, which is two shots up on the field.

Newcomer Ben Kohles (69), two-time winner Casey Wittenberg (67) and Joseph Bramlett (66) of California are tied for the clubhouse lead with 7-under 135 totals.

Camilo Benedetti (68), Michael Putnam (69), James Sacheck (70) and former Player of the Year Michael Sim (66) are tied for fifth place at 6-under 136.

Nicholas Thompson and Steve Allan are both 6 under par but will be part of a group of 51 players who will return to the famed course Saturday morning to finish their rounds.

Second-round play will resume at 7:30 a.m. The third round will start at approximately 10:00 a.m. after the cut is made.

Bramlett, a second-year pro from Stanford, started slowly with nine straight pars before catching fire with six birdies on his first seven holes on the back nine.

"I get on runs occasionally. I don't know how to describe," he said. "You never know when they're coming but when things line up, you start hitting it well and you start rolling it well."

Bramlett was fine until a three-putt hiccup on his 17th hole and then a missed birdie putt on the final hole.

"Anytime you miss a couple of putts at the end it gets under your skin for about 15 minutes after the round, but then you get over it," he said. "In the big picture, everything was real solid. A lot of positives for the weekend."

A dozen college All-Americans were given invitations to join the professional party in Columbus and several are taking advantage of the opportunity.

Kohles, a two-time ACC Player of the Year at Virginia, turned pro this week after a top-20 finish at the Porter Cup last week in New York.

Illinois' Luke Guthrie, back-to-back winner of the Big 10 Championship, fired a 6-under 65 and is at 5 under after 36 holes. Guthrie turned pro after the NCAA Championship and has finished in the top 20 in all three of his PGA Tour starts, accumulating $284,672 in the last month.

University of Texas freshman Jordan Speith, who helped the Longhorns capture their first NCAA title since 1972, will also be around for the final two rounds after a 4-under 67 Friday.

Alabama's Cory Whitsett (70-70) will also be among the challengers when the third round starts. Whitsett is also making his first professional start after a standout career with the Crimson Tide.

"Seeing how well they (college players) have done in the past gives us a lot of confidence," said Kohles, who was forced to play 30+ holes Friday. "Coming out here and seeing them do well gives all of us young guys confidence that we can hang with these guys."

The young guns have proved formidable over the first five years of the tournament -- Daniel Summerhays had just completed his junior year at BYU when he won here in 2007 to become the first amateur ever to win a Web.com Tour event.

Rickie Fowler was barely done with his sophomore season at Oklahoma State when he lost in a playoff in 2009.

LSU's John Peterson nearly went wire-to-wire last year before being overtaken on the 72nd hole by Georgia grad Harris English, who joined Summerhays as amateur champions.

"Having a history of having amateurs winning and inviting all those All-Americans to the event, there's just a load of talent here," said Speith. "It's just a matter of who gets hot and when. You saw Harry (Harris English) do that last year and John Peterson finishing second. All the amateurs here are capable of shooting 12-under on this course. It's just a matter of who's going to do it right then."