By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour Staff
BOGOTA, COLOMBIA – Four players – B.J. Staten, Jim Renner, Bhavik Patel and D.J. Brigman – share the 36-hole lead at the Colombia Championship, the second stop on the 2013 Web.com Tour schedule.
The quartet are stuck together at 8-under 134 after two trips around the Country Club of Bogota and only one shot in front of another pile of four consisting of Shane Bertsch, Edward Loar, Steve Wheatcroft and rookie Patrick Cantlay.
The field is jammed together after two rounds with a total of 62 players making the cut, which came at 1-under 141.
Renner had the best round of the day, firing a bogey-free 6-under 65.
“It’s been a little scrappy at times,” said Renner, a 29-year-old from Massachusetts. “I’ve cleaned up nice around the hole so far this week. I’ve been putting pretty well and I haven’t been in too many difficult place out there.”
Renner saved par from greenside bunkers on each of the first three holes and then avoided the trouble spots.
“The big key is not going over these greens. Just over is jail,” he said. “Sometimes you have to take your 30 or 40-footer and be happy with it as opposed to hitting it over and being only 10 feet away from the flag and have all sorts of problems.”
Patel is a 22-year-old rookie out of Fresno State playing in his third career start. He has learned quickly that the altitude of Bogota (8,612 feet above sea level) and the tree-lined course combine to keep the his driver in his bag.
“That’s not a bad thing,” he said after a 5-under 66. “It’s good and it’s tight and it makes me think a little bit more. The greens are firm and it makes you play smart golf and sometimes that’s playing more to the middle of the green. If it takes a bounce, that’s good. If it doesn’t, you take your medicine and go.”
Staten and Brigman have posted consecutive 4-under 67s to join the logjam at the top of the leaderboard. Brazil’s Alexander Rocha (70) is T9 heading into the weekend while Manuel Villegas (69) of Medellin is T14.
First-round leader Danny Lee shot a 3-over 74 and is at 4-under 138 (T21).
Second-Round Notes & Quotes:
-- Friday weather: mostly cloudy with light rain showers. Wind SE 6-12 mph. High of 64.
-- Brenden Pappas, the 2011 tournament champion, withdrew prior to the start of the second round because of illness.
-- Briny Baird withdrew during the second round due to a shoulder injury.
-- Defending champion Skip Kendall shot 73-75 and missed the cut.
“I’m just not firing on all cylinders, kind of what I did last week,” he said. “It feels like my lower half is disconnected from my upper half. I’m disappointed I won’t be in the mix this weekend and have a chance to defend my title here in Bogota.”
-- Kevin Foley, winner of last week’s Panama Claro Championship, posted scores of 70-70 and will be around for the weekend. Foley had four birdies and an eagle in Friday’s round but was done in by two bogeys and a triple-bogey at No. 14.
-- Rookie Ryan Spears of Wichita, Kan., ran off a tournament-record six birdies in a row. Spears birdied Nos. 14-1 en route to a second-round 66. Spears opened his round with two birdies on the back nine and though he might have a third on the par-4, 12th.
“I flagged it and it took a couple of big hops and bounced over the green and into the hazard. It’s a firm green up there and you have to land something short. It was a bad break but you’re going to have those out there with greens this firm.”
Spears adjusted his yardages and then started making putt after putt starting at No. 14.
“I just pretty much made everything I looked at. The hole looked like the size of a wastebasket. It also helps to be in the right spots too. I had a couple that had some big breakers to them.”
Spears finished with 9 birdies on the day – six of them in the 12-25 foot range.
“I’ve done five in a row but never six. It was quite a ride.”
-- After rounds of 74-74 and a missed cut at last week’s Panama Claro Championship, D.J. Brigman decided it was time for a change. Brigman ditched the “forearm” putting style he picked up late last year. It’s similar to the one used by Matt Kuchar on the PGA TOUR.
“I putted awful last week. I went back to a conventional putter. I’d enough finagling with it. Sometimes when you switch it up everything feels good, and it feels good right now.”
Brigman (67-67) was paired with Bhavik Patel (68-66) and Ryan Spears (70-66) for the first 36 holes.
“It’s a huge thing to be a group that’s playing well. I’ve been in the opposite when the group is playing bad. You hear the negativity and you see poor shots and it starts to sink into your head. A lot of times I just closed my eyes because I didn’t want to watch them. Our whole group was hitting it well and that reconfirms what your mind wants to see.”
-- B.J. Staten plays an unconventional game. The former Houston Cougar plays left-handed but putts right-handed.
“I had the yips left-handed so I switched at the beginning of my junior year in college and it’s made a huge difference. I’m left-eye dominant and I do some things right-handed so it comes somewhat natural. I’ve really putted well the last few years.”
-- Course statistics for the week:
-- For much of Friday’s second round, it appeared the Tour was headed for a possible new record for the most players tied for the lead after 36 holes. When the dust settled, the record of five was safe. The record for most players tied for the lead (36 holes) is: 5 - 1991 (Tri-Cities Open, Lon Hinkle, Tim Loustalot, Jeff Gallagher, Rick Todd and Mike Warner); 5 - 1993 (Utah Classic, Chris Rule, Tom Garner, Jeff Gallagher, Jim Carter and Jim Furyk); 5 - 2002 (LaSalle Bank Open, Richard Barcelo, Patrick Moore, Brian Wilson, Jimmy Walker and Dave Stockton, Jr.); 5 - 2004 (Samsung Canadian PGA Championnship, Charles Warren, Doug Barron, Bill Lunde, David McKenzie and Kenneth Staton); 5 - 2005 (National Mining Association Pete Dye Classic, Todd Demsey, Jason Gore, Cliff Kresge, Dan Olsen and Johnson Wagner); 5 - 2006 (Web.com Tour Championship, Chris Baryla, Andrew Buckle, Cliff Kresge, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker)
-- Did you know about Colombia: It has more than 1,800 species of birds, 700 species of amphibians, more than 130,000 plant species and more than 450 mammal species.
-- The Web.com Tour will head to further south next week for the second Chile Classic at the Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago Mar. 4-10. Last year, newcomer Paul Haley II cruised to a three-stroke win over Joseph Bramlett to earn the title in only his third career start. Haley, an All-American at Georgia Tech, posted back-to-back, 8-under 64s in the second and third round and opened up a six-shot lead after 54 holes. He was never seriously challenged on the final day but Bramlett, who started the day 10 back, made up ground quickly and carded a 64 to grab solo second. Next week’s winner will earn $117,000 from the $650,000 purse.