NEWS

Andy Mickelson leads PGA Assistant Championship after two rounds

By John Dever
Published on

 
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – Andy Mickelson, the Director of Golf at Mistwood Golf Club in Romeoville, Illinois, is the 36-hole leader at the 39th National Car Rental PGA Assistant Championship, which is taking place on the Wanamaker Course at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
 
Mickelson holed out for eagle from 78 yards at the 412-yard eighth hole to cap off a second-round 65, which trumped his opening 68 on Thursday. His 11-under-par, 133 total is the second-lowest two-day score in the history of the Championship, which began in 1977. 
 
"I started well today with an easy birdie on 10," said Mickelson, who tied for sixth after the first round and began Friday's round on the 10th tee. "I was actually disappointed I did not score better on my first nine. But things turned around with the birdie on 5. Then the hole-out. I've been hitting by wedges so well lately. I feel great from 100 yards in. This is a second-shot golf course, so that helps me going into the weekend."
 
The trio of Tommy Gibson of Homestead, Florida; Richard Terga of West Palm Beach, Florida; and Michael Valicenti of Jupiter, Florida, are tied for second at 8-under-par 136. All three hail from the South Florida PGA Section.
 
Valicenti was tied for 32nd place after round 1, but fired a 7-under-par 65 on Friday to match the lowest second-round score in Championship history. His mark was duplicated later in the afternoon by Mickelson and Daniel Iceman III of Shelbyville, Kentucky. 
 
Iceman is tied for fifth with Adam Rainaud of South Hadley, Massachusetts. They are four shots back. 
 
Rainaud's round, however, was highlighted by the first double eagle of his career at the 525-yard, par-5 seventh hole. 
 
"I think 7 is the toughest par 5 out there [on the Wanamaker Course]," said Rainaud, who also has three holes-in-one on his playing resume. "I would not consider going for it in two unless it was the right pin and the right distance. I hit a good drive [310 yards], had 218 in with a right-to-left wind. And on that hole, the water is on the left. So this is a nice wind for the shot. 
 
"I thought if I hit a 4 iron, draw it, let it ride the wind, it might be perfect. It was one of those shots when I struck it, it felt great. It's in the air and I’m feeling it. Some spectators said it bounced 10 feet short of the pin, bounced once or twice and went in."
 
Gibson’s hung a second-round 69 next to his opening 67. Gibson’s scoring today was "steady" (four birdies) as opposed to Thursday's dominance of par 5s (two eagles, two birdies). 
          
An overnight chat with his father, Tom Gibson, the Head Golf Professional at the Palmetto Golf Course in Miami, did not hurt his cause. 
 
"I talked to my dad after the round [Thursday]," said Gibson. "He played competitive golf for a long time, so this is his element. He told me to stay patient and that the breaks will come. Just play my game."
 
A PGA Teaching Professional & Club Fitter at The Breakers, Terga opened with a 70 on Thursday, but began his Friday charge early with birdies at 1, 2, 4, 5 and 7. Like most of the contingent from the South Florida Section, Terga is familiar with PGA Golf Club, especially the Wanamaker Course.
 
"I've played here a ton," said Terga, who tied for second in this Championship in 2011. "I have played a bunch of (mini) tours out here. I am definitely comfortable with this golf course."
 
After posting a 1-under 71 that included three bogeys on Thursday, Valicenti was bogey-free Friday thanks to tandem nine-foot par saves on 11 and 14 (his second and fifth holes of the morning).  
 
"For the most part, I kept things right in front of me and I took advantage of the par 5s when I could," said Valicenti, who birdied each of the Wanamaker Course's four par 5s, which averaged 522 yards.
 
Frank Bensel of Purchase, New York; Alan Morin of Royal Palm Beach, Florida; Shane Pearce of Anna, Texas; Mick Smith of Summit, Wisconsin; and Trent Rommann of Wichita, Kansas are tied for seventh, five shots back. Bensel won this Championship in 2010, 2011 and 2013. 
 
Notes: 
--After 43 sub-par rounds were registered on Thursday, Friday's second round rendered 44 more. 
 
--Morin, the first-round leader, shot an even-par 72 on Friday.
 
--The only woman in the field, Karen Paolozzi of Atlanta, Georgia, (69-73, 142) is tied for 29th at 2-under par. 
 
--Defending Champion Grant Sturgeon (70-76, 136) of Port Chester, New York, bogeyed his final two holes of the afternoon, but made the cut.
 
--A total of 70 players made the cut. The cut line was 136.