Port St. Lucie, Fla. – Jack Lempke (7-under) of Bent Tree Country Club leads after 36 holes at the 40th National Car Rental Assistant PGA Professional Championship, which is being played at the Wanamaker Course in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
After posting a 2-under 70 on Thursday, Lempke submitted another red scorecard. His 5-under 67 was nearly a 66, as he came within inches of rolling in a downhill, left-to-right 50-footer for birdie on the par-4 18th.
“I was in the fairway with an 8-iron and there was one place the ball was not going, and that was the water. I was okay with missing the green left. I hit probably my best putt of the day, touch-wise. It went exactly how I envisioned in my head,” recalled Lempke.
The week’s first bogey-free round belongs to Ryan McGinnis, the 24-year-old from the Central New York Section. McGinnis began his round on the course’s back nine and wasted no time scoring with birdies on holes 10, 15, 16, 17 and 18. “It was a good stretch going into my back nine,” he discussed. “While I didn’t make putts on the back, I hit greens and brought in a low score. The big thing for me is to have fun and enjoy the experience.”
McGinnis maintained his 5-under mark through the rest of the round and finished with a 67 on the day. His 139 total score through two rounds trails Lempke by two heading into the weekend.
Tied with McGinnis in second place is Danny Lewis, the 27-year-old from Morrow, Ohio. Lewis offered a simple approach to remain towards the top of the leaderboard: “Keep hitting greens and try to not make myself work too hard.” His second-round 68 featured five birdies and just one bogey.
Ben Polland of Manhasset, New York sits in fourth place after carding a 68 on Friday. He bogeyed two of his first three holes, but caught fire on holes seven through 10. Heading into the weekend, he plans to draw from past Wanamaker experience to continue his strong play. “I’ve played well on Saturday the past couple years so I’m going to try to channel that,” he said.
Patrick Grady, of Denver, Colorado, followed his round-one 70 with a second-round 71. The 30-year-old started on the back nine and was playing a steady round prior to dropping one stroke each on his 13th, 14th and 15th holes. He recovered immediately on his 16th, making eagle on the par-5 7th to solidify back-to-back sub-par rounds at the Wanamaker Course. Dylan Malafronte (Tampa Bay, Florida) and Todd Bailey (Daphne, Alabama) join Grady in a tie for fifth place.
Defending champion Andy Mickelson (Lockport, Illinois) bounced back from a first-round 74 with a 3-under 69 and finds himself sitting in a tie for 14th place. Mickelson, 1-under for the championship, jump-started his round with birdies on four of his first eight holes.
The Frisco, Texas resident, Lempke, is excited for the weekend, but understands there is more work to do. “I’ve been playing pretty well the whole year, and I feel like I’ve been waiting to breakthrough. We’re only halfway through the golf tournament, but I feel good about my game. The most important thing for me is to take it slow and focus on the shot I’m hitting. We’ll see what happens. We have a long way to go.”
78 players made the cut at +7 and will play Saturday and Sunday.
Round One leader Evan Wartgow shot a 7-over 79 on Friday and currently sits in a tie for 33rd place.
After 15 of the 132 players in the field turned in a red number for Thursday’s round, 26 were able to accomplish the feat on Friday.
Shawn Warren (Orlando, Florida), Alan Morin (Royal Palm Beach, Florida), Lempke, Bailey, Lewis and Grady are the only players to break par in each of the first two rounds.
The par-5 16th was very kind to Shawn McCall of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as he posted an eagle in each of the first two rounds. Unfortunately for McCall, the rest of his rounds did not go as well and he missed the cut.
Two of the three women competing this week made the cut. Brittany Kelly (Indianapolis, Indiana) shot 74-72 and is T26, while Joanna Coe (Baltimore, Maryland) carded 74-74 and is T41. Somin Lee (Centennial, Colorado) failed to make the weekend after shooting 76-80.
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