PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Chesson Hadley fired a 4-under 66 Friday morning and moved into sole possession of the 36-hole lead at the Web.com Tour Championship, the last of four Finals events on the 2013 schedule.
Hadley, who has already locked up a PGA TOUR card for the upcoming 2013-14 season, stands at 9-under 131, two shots in front of veteran Joe Durant after two trips around the TPC Sawgrass Dye’s Valley course.
Aron Price (65) and Chiquita Classic winner Andrew Svoboda (67) share third place, three back of the leader.
Four more -- Andrew Putnam, Jhonattan Vegas, Mark Anderson and Scott Gardiner -- are four off the pace heading into the weekend when a total of 50 PGA TOUR cards will be awarded.
“You love seeing your name up there but I honestly I could care less,” said Hadley, winner of the Rex Hospital Open back in June. “If it’s there on Sunday, that’s all that matters.”
Hadley opened his second round with three birdies in four holes and added another on his seventh to move into the lead at 9-under. A pair of mistakes on his inward nine were both countered by bounce-back birdies and the outright lead despite hitting only six fairways in the second round.
“Out here there are so many holes where you can make big numbers,” he said. “Even these short ones where you’re hitting irons off the tee, if you miss the fairway you’re in some nasty rough. You can make bogeys out here in a heartbeat.”
Hadley’s two bogeys match the fewest in the field through two days and his 11 birdies also tie him for the best of the week to date.
Durant also only has two bogeys but it’s his ball-striking that has him near the lead. The 49-year old Pensacola, Fla. resident missed only one fairway on Friday and has hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation each day.
“I think our wave caught a break on the weather,” he said after finishing early. “We had ball in hand and fortunately I hit a lot of fairways so I had a lot of good lies all the way around.”
While Hadley knows he’s headed for the PGA TOUR next year, Durant also has a place to play – the Champions Tour.
“I know where I’m going to be playing my golf next year,” said Durant, who will turn 50 on April 7. “I’d still love to get through this and have my TOUR card, too. I called (TOUR HQ) yesterday just to make sure. They said I’ll be in good shape for a while.”
Durant will ease onto the Champions Tour via his standing on the career money list ($13,812,426).
“For me, putting has always been a struggle,” he said. “When I’ve gotten hot with a putter I’ve had a chance to win or I’ve won tournaments, but they seem too few and far between. I still work on it and try to get better, that’s all we can do.”
Second-Round Notes & Quotes:
• Friday weather: Mostly cloudy with occasional rain showers. Rainfall total 0.5 inches. Overnight low 72. Daytime high 82. Wind NE 10-20 mph.
• A total of 67 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at even-par 140.
• Lift, clean and place conditions were in effect for the second round.
• Saturday’s third-round play will be in twosomes off the first tee. Times will run from 8:33 a.m. to 1:40 p.m. ET
• Best rounds of the day:
64 – Troy Merritt
65 – Adam Crawford, Aron Price
• First-round leader Ashley Hall carded a 6-over 76 and finished 1-under 139 (T35).
• Regular Season leading money winner Michael Putnam has posted scores of 68-71-139 (T35) and will be around for the weekend. Putnam has finished T7, T14 and T17 in the first three Finals events.
• Chesson Hadley has held the 54-hole lead only once this year. He was 15-under and led by one after three rounds of the Midwest Classic in Kansas City. A 1-under 70 on the final day left him tied for third, two shots back of winner Jamie Lovemark.
• Hadley, a rookie out of Georgia Tech, made the cut in 15 of 21 starts on the Web.com Tour this year. He posted seven top-10s, including a first, a second and a tie for third. Hadley won the Rex Hospital Open in front of hometown family and friends in Raleigh, NC in late June for his first career title. He had finished second a few weeks earlier at the Mid-Atlantic Championship.
• Hadley wound up No. 4 on the Regular Season money list and entered this week No. 14 on the Finals Priority Ranking after finishing T69 at the Hotel Fitness Championship, T34 at the Chiquita Classic and T4 at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. A first-place check of $180,000 could possibly propel him to No. 1 on the Finals money list.
• Joe Durant made the cut in 13 of 17 Web.com Tour starts this year and had a pair of top-10 finishes. He tied for eighth at the rain-shortened Stadion Classic at UGA and was solo sixth at the News Sentinel Open. Durant ended the Regular Season No. 65 on the money list. Durant also made two cuts in seven PGA TOUR starts this year.
• Durant entered the week No. 67 on the Finals Priority Ranking, $11,100 behind the final spot on the top-50 money list. Durant has made the cut in the three Finals events – T55/Hotel Fitness Championship; T30/Chiquita Classic; T56/Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship – but does not have a top-25 finish. Currently he is projected to move up 59 spots to No. 8.
• Durant’s only win on this Tour came on May 12, 1996 at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Classic. The victory capped off a three-week stretch where he finished fourth, second and then first. He added a T3 two weeks later and eventually wound up No. 3 on the money list to earn his PGA TOUR card.
• Andrew Svoboda struggled through much of his rookie season on the PGA TOUR this year (5 of 18 cuts) and wound up No. 202 on the FedExCup money list despite a season-best T37 at the Wyndham Championship.
• Svoboda earned his first career title in mid-August with a victory at the Price Cutter Charity Championship in Springfield, Mo. He then added a second title during the Finals, winning the Chiquita Classic in a playoff over Will MacKenzie.
• 21 of the top 25 money winners from the Web.com Tour’s Regular Season were in the field this week and 13 of those advanced to the weekend. Those missing the cut will still earn PGA TOUR cards for the upcoming 2013-14 season: Tim Wilkinson, Brice Garnett, Peter Malnati, Wes Roach, Kevin Tway, Bronson La’Cassie, Kevin Foley and Alex Aragon.
• Jacksonville resident Steve Wheatcroft entered the week as the “bubble boy” on the Finals Priority Ranking (No. 37). Wheatcroft was holding the last of the available 25 cards but struggled with rounds of 74-71 and missed the cut. He is currently projected to drop 27 spots to No. 62.
• Several players who were inside the top-50 on the Priority Rankings missed the cut this week and are currently on the outside looking in. Here's a quick look:
|Course statistics for this week|