Round 2 notebook: Greater Hickory Classic

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October 13, 2012
Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour

Weather: Mostly sunny with highs in the mid-60s and winds from the SE at 5-10 mph. A two-tee start was used beginning at 10:30 a.m.

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CONOVER, N.C. -- Fred Funk birdied the last two holes to leapfrog Larry Mize into the lead through two rounds of the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. Funk's 10-foot birdie putt at No. 17 was just the third birdie of the day on the par 3 and he followed with a 20-foot birdie at the final hole to jump into the lead. "I was either making four or six at 18. That putt was motoring and thank goodness it hit the hole and fell in or it might have rolled off the green down into the bunker," Funk said. Funk's second consecutive bogey-free 66, the low round of the field on Saturday, also included three birdies on the front nine and another at the par-5 14th from five feet. Mize led for most of the round but after three straight birdies on Nos. 12-14, he made par on his last four holes for a 67.

• Funk has now gone 66 straight holes at Rock Barn Golf & Spa without a bogey dating back to the 7th hole in Round Two last year. Over this stretch, Funk is a cumulative 25-under par. He's bidding for his second victory of the 2012 season and if successful tomorrow, it would make him the sixth multiple winner on the Champions Tour this season. In May, Funk won the Insperity Championship in Houston. He will play his first career event on the Web.com Tour next week at the Winn-Dixie Greater Jacksonville Open.

Larry Mize is trying to end a victory drought of 49 starts and claim his second career title on the Champions Tour. Mize's initial title came at the 2010 Montreal Championship, a span of two years, three months and 10 days ago. Last year at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, Mize was 10-under 134 through the first 36 holes.

Chip Beck's 5-under 67 today moved him up into a T3 through 36 holes of this year's Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. Beck is searching for this first top-10 finish of the season, and he was T3 last year at this event. Beck also finished third in his initial appearance at Rock Barn in 2006. The Fayetteville, N.C. native now has a streak of eight straight sub-70 scores on the Jones course and 10 straight sub-par rounds.

• In the previous nine events in Hickory, Saturday leaders/co-leaders have won four times with all four coming within the last six years.

• A total of nine of the first 21 Champions Tour events this year have been won by second-round leaders/co-leaders, and the last to do so was Jay Haas at the Principal Charity Classic in early June.

• The winner of the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn will earn 240 points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race. Bernhard Langer, the current leader, is T10 through two rounds this week while Tom Lehman, who trails Langer by 69 points, is T24. Roger Chapman is a distant third to Langer and Lehman, but he's T28 this week through 36 holes. Fred Funk, the current tournament leader, came into this week in seventh place, 1,087 points back of Langer.

• Mark O'Meara carded 69 today and is T10 after two rounds at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn. O'Meara has registered five consecutive top-10 finishes since returning to the Champions Tour in early August. The two-time major champion was out of action for four months with torn cartilage in his rib area. Another high finish this week would move him closer to securing a spot among the top 30 on the money list and a place in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Scottsdale, Ariz. O'Meara is currently 36th on the 2012 money list, roughly $150,000 outside of the 30th spot, after being 89th in yearly earnings just prior to his return at the 3M Championship. In his last five starts, O'Meara has $356,935 ($71,387 per start).

• Through two rounds this week, the field scoring average is 72.075. Last year when the event was played during the summer, the field scoring average was 69.189. Through two rounds last year, 15 of the 18 holes were averaging under-par scores. This year, just five are averaging under par numbers with the par-4 8th hole being the only non-par-5 in that group. In 2011, there were also 131 sub-par scores shot over the first two days compared to just 75 over the first two days this year.

• After two rounds, the hardest hole has been the par-4 sixth (4.298), yielding just 23 birdies. The par-5, seventh hole has been the easiest (4.584) with one eagle and 74 birdies. The short, par-4, eighth hole has yielded two eagles through the first two days with both Duffy Waldorf (Rd. 1) and Dana Quigley (Rd. 2) holing short-iron approach shots.

• This and That: Larry Mize leads the field in total birdies with 12...Every winner of this event except R.W. Eaks (70/2007) has carded a final-round score of 68 or better in the final round...Craig Stadler's 74 today snapped a streak of 17 straight rounds of par/better at Rock Barn. Fred Funk now has the longest active streak with 17 straight...Mike Goodes, John Harris and Mark Mouland have hit every fairway through the first two rounds...Fred Funk leads in Greens In Regulation, hitting 31 of 36 (86.11%)...Chip Beck leads in Putts Per Round, averaging just 25 in each of the first two rounds.

John Huston withdrew during his second round with an elbow injury.

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