For the second straight day, Roger Tambellini got a little bit of good luck, and the end result was a second-round 65 and 12-under 130 total at the Nationwide Tour’s Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open. That’s one stroke better than three of this season’s best players: Australia’s Mathew Goggin (65), Troy Kelly (64) and Kyle Thompson (64) through two days.
Tambellini’s drive on the 456-yard, par-4 seventh hole (his 16th hole) got a fortuitous bounce off a cart path and propelled the ball on the green 20 feet from the hole. He then two-putted for the birdie that eventually maintained his slim lead.
“It was a fun day and hopefully the weekend will be fun. When you are playing like this, you want to keep going,” Tambellini said. “I wasn’t really sure if I hit the cart path until I heard it click. I’ve never done anything like that before.”
Even though Tambellini’s two-round total matched the second-lowest 36-hole score of his Nationwide Tour career, he doesn’t have much breathing room. His closest pursuers include the circuit’s top-two leading money-winners, Goggin and Kelly, and Thompson, last week’s winner at the Rex Hospital Open. In fact, six of the top eight players on the leader board are currently among the Nationwide Tour’s top 25 in earnings.
“I’m playing well and it’s great to be in this position,” Goggin said. “I’ll try to take advantage of the weekend and hopefully have a chance to win on Sunday.”
“This is getting to be pretty fun, getting into the mix two weeks in a row,” said Thompson. “I’m very comfortable with my game right now. It wasn’t easy today but it was a solid round of golf. I’ve really got so much confidence now. Hopefully I can keep this rolling.”
Four other players are four strokes off the pace, including Scott Brown (65) and Martin Flores (65), who both tied for second last week at the Rex Hospital Open; Australia’s Andrew Buckle (67), currently sitting 25th on the money list; and South Korea’s Jin Park (64) who had only made one cut coming into this week, a tie for 21st at the Melwood Prince George’s County Open.
Kelly got to 11 under early in the day and was the leader in the clubhouse for most of the second round. After playing the last four holes Friday morning and completing his first round at 4-under 67, he went out again after a short break and manufactured a 7-under round that included making a 45-foot birdie putt at the par-3 eighth hole and holing a 30-yard pitch shot for a deuce at the par-4 11th hole.
“I’ve now actually holed-out three times this week and that really helps get the round going,” Kelly said. “The long putt at No. 8 got me going and overall it was a real solid day for me. I’ve been playing real steady and I’d just like to keep doing the things I’ve been doing.”
--A total of 65 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-under-par 140. It was the lowest 36-hole cut in relation to par thus far on the 2011 Nationwide Tour.
--This is the third time in his Nationwide Tour career that Roger Tambellini has been leading or tied for the lead after 36 holes, and he went on to win on both of the previous occasions – the 2003 Albertson’s Boise Open, and Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic. Tambellini is also the first person since Keoke Cotner (2004) to be in sole possession of both the 18- and 36-hole lead at the Wichita Open.
--There were two disqualifications on Friday. Local favorite Dustin Garza disqualified himself from the event on Friday morning after discovering he had signed an incorrect scorecard on Thursday. Garza made a par 5 at the 14th hole and signed for a 4. Bryan DeCorso was disqualified for violating Rule 15-3, involving a wrong ball. DeCorso hit a shot from out-of-bounds at No. 7 and didn’t correct his mistake prior to hitting his tee shot on No. 8.
--Paul Claxton and Gary Christian both extended their streaks of par/better rounds to 14 consecutive, the best runs of the year on the Nationwide Tour. Both players carded 1-under 70s. … Josh Geary’s E-B-B-B-B (6-under/#14-18) streak was the best eagle-birdie run on the 2011 Nationwide Tour. … Brent Long eagled both par 5s on the back nine (Nos. 14, 18). He became the 15th different player with a pair of eagles in a round this year.