When Josh Broadway is putting well, birdies come in bunches, which is appropriate at this week’s Chiquita Classic. Broadaway, who plays right-handed but putts left-handed, has a tournament-best 17 birdies through the first two days of the Nationwide Tour event and sits atop the leaderboard at the halfway mark.
Broadaway fired his second straight 7-under 65 Friday and owns the clubhouse lead at 14-under 130, two shots better than Florida’s Matt Every and former Navy Lieutenant Billy Hurley.
Sweden’s David Lingmerth, Monday qualifier Will Dodson and San Diego State’s Aaron Goldberg share fourth place at 11-under 133. Dodson turned in the best round of the day, an 8-under 64.
Lefty Ted Potter Jr., winner of the South Georgia Classic earlier this year is at 10 under, along with Scott Dunlap and Scotland’s Russell Knox.
Broadaway closed his opening round Thursday afternoon with five birdies over his last six holes and then started round two Friday morning with eight birdies in his first 12 holes. Add the two together and he had 13 birdies in 18 holes.
“You just see the line better,” he said of his putting success. “You start seeing a few go in and then the first time you squat down to look the line just jumps out at you, this is it. You don’t find yourself second-guessing the line and whether it’ll move a little left or a little right -- you just pick your line.”
His lines have been nearly flawless through 36 holes. His 130 total is a career-best for him and puts on equal footing with Tommy Gainey’s pace set last year when he blitzed the TPC River’s Bend course with a winning score of 27 under par.
“Today I told myself to just keep attacking,” he said. “The scores were low here last year and they’re going to be low again. I’m just trying to stay patient and keep making birdies. As long as you get a solid club where you’re not in between you can attack. You just have to keep going at it.”
The birdies have come from near and far. The Dothan, Ala., resident canned a couple of putts inside of eight feet on his first two holes Friday morning and later added a couple of 25-foot birdie putts.
“You see the line and you trust it and you putt it there and they either go in or they don’t,” he said. “We made a lot of good ones that didn’t go in but we made our fair share.”
Broadaway, who plays right-handed with a cross-handed grip, has the first 36-hole lead of his Nationwide Tour career in his 150th career start but he isn’t paying much attention to the electronic leaderboards.
“Out here on this tour, especially these kinds of events, somebody can come from nowhere,” he said. “I’m not thinking about much, just picking my target and hitting it and the ball’s going right where I want it to. We’ll probably look with three or four holes to go on Sunday and see what’s up.”
Every charged into second place late in the afternoon Friday after posting an error-free, 7-under 65.
“The fairways are big here and I’m just not making any mistakes,” he said after hitting 15 of 18 greens. “I didn’t really even sniff making a bogey today. It was a good day but it could have been really good. I missed four putts inside of six feet, but that’s the way it goes.”
Hurley also used the flatstick to move into contention. The 2004 graduate of the Naval Academy had only 25 putts en route to his 7-under 65 and had playing partner Luke List calling him “Billy Crenshaw” because of his prowess on the greens.
“That’s what I do,” said Hurley. “I’ve always been a pretty good putter. I don’t hit it as far as Luke and Jason (Kokrak). Those guys are easily 60 yards by me on multiple holes, so I just short-game it around. I don’t necessarily like it a lot but it is what it is. The fairways are pretty firm and so I’m getting it to 290 or 300, which means they’re at 340 or so. I’ve always been the short guy in the group almost every round this year. It’s just sort of who I am.”
Jeff Brehaut put together one of the stranger rounds of 70 in quite a while. The Californian started bogey-double bogey on the back nine and opened with a 5-over 41 before turning it around on his second nine with a 7-under 29, which included a pair of eagles.
“I played awful, drove it all over the place and couldn’t hit a green on the back nine. I was making plans for what I was going to do when I missed the cut after about four holes,” he said. “I just kept hanging in there. I was just a different guy.”
Brehaut hit it close on Nos. 1 and 2 for birdie and admittedly got a lucky break with a bounce on the par-5 sixth that left him with an 18-foot putt for eagle, which he made. He missed a 7-foot birdie putt at No. 7, rolled in a 35-footer for eagle at No. 8 and missed a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 9 for 28.
“It’s a crazy game,” he laughed. “It’s why we torture ourselves. It’s just torture.”
Brehaut stands at 5-under 139 through the first 36 holes. He hit 2 of 7 fairways and 3 of 9 greens on the back nine (41) but 6 of 7 fairways and 8 of 9 greens on the front (29).
His 29 matches the lowest nine-hole score on Tour this year. Travis Hampshire (BMW Charity Pro-Am) and Kyle Thompson (Mexico Open) also posted 7-under 29s earlier this year. There have also been four players shoot 6-under 29s this year.
--A total of 68 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 4-under-par 140. The 4-under cut is the lowest on Tour this year. Last year’s cut at this event was 6-under 138.
--Josh Broadaway’s 130 total through two rounds matches his career-best 36-hole score on Tour. He also posted a 130 total (10 under par) for the second and third rounds of the 2010 Fort Smith Classic. This is the first time in his Nationwide Tour career that he has held/shared the 36-hole lead.
--Broadaway’s 130 total is his career-best opening-36 hole score. His previous best of 132 came at the 2006 Price Cutter Charity Championship and the 2006 Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open, which came in consecutive weeks on the schedule. His 65-65 start marks only the second time in his 150 career starts on Tour that he has posted two rounds of 65 or better in a single event. The only other time came at the 2010 Fort Smith Classic, where he carded rounds of 65-65 in the second and third rounds at the Hardscrabble Country Club (par-70).
--Clayton Rask had a season-best birdie-eagle streak, running off a 7-under stretch on Nos. 3-8 (B-B-B-B-B-E), which is the best on the tour this year. The previous best was 6 under by Brian Stuard (Rex Hospital Open) and Scott Gardiner (Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open).
--Roger Tambellini opened second-round play on the back nine with four consecutive birdies.
--BMW Charity Pro-Am winner Garth Mulroy started the second round birdie-birdie-quadruple bogey-birdie. He eventually shot a 5-under 67 and is at 5-under 139 through 36 holes.
--Daniel Chopra had a pair of eagles on the front nine en route to a 6-under 30. He eagled the par-4 second hole and the par-5 eighth hole. Chopra, winner of the Fresh Express Classic, shot a 6-under 66 but missed the 36-hole cut.
--Ewan Porter withdrew after six holes in the second round due to an injury. Jason Thompson withdrew after 10 holes due to an injury.