Four share lead at Rex Hospital Open

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May 29, 2009
Kin Lo, PGA TOUR Staff

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Four players share the 36-hole lead at 9-under par, including first-round co-leaders Jeff Gallagher and Bradley Iles. Also at the top of the leaderboard are Jeff Curl and Scott Gardiner. Five others are one shot back at 8 under.

Iles (New Zealand) and Gallagher (Marion, Ind.) both shot 2-under 69s to maintain their position, while Gardiner (Australia) went low with an 8-under 63 after being tied for 60th following Round 1.

REX HOSPITAL OPEN

Gardiner began the day by completing the final hole of his first round, which was suspended on Thursday due to darkness. It was a good start -- he made a birdie on No. 18 to finish at 1 under, then went on to make another five birdies in his first nine holes of the second round.

"Making that first putt was great. I was even par for the tournament at that point and knew I had to play well today just to make the cut," he said. His final 63 for the day is just one stroke shy of the course record set by Rob Bradley in 2003.

Iles, who is from New Zealand and playing his second full year on the Nationwide Tour, has never held a share of the lead on Tour until this week. He had an erratic round with four birdies and four bogeys through 16 holes.

"I looked up at the leaderboard after No. 15 and saw that I was two shots back," he said. "I knew I had to birdie the last two -- I've never had the lead before and I didn't want to lose it." He did just that with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.

Gallagher, a veteran from Marion, Ind., is playing his 11th full season on the Nationwide Tour and has been a member of the PGA TOUR five times in his career.

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Current Nationwide Tour money leader Michael Sim finished the day two shots behind the leaders at 7 under after firing a 2-under 69 in the second round. Sim is looking for his third win of the season and an instant promotion to the TOUR.

The first round was suspended on Thursday shortly after 8 p.m. The 21 players still on the course resumed play at 8 a.m. Friday and completed their rounds at 8:54 a.m. The second round began as scheduled at 7:05 a.m. and ended at approximately 7:15 p.m.

The field was cut to 72 players at 3-under 139 or better. The difference between the cut line and the leaders is six strokes. Nineteen players finished at 2 under and missed the cut by a shot.

For the second consecutive day, tournament officials implemented a local rule that allowed players to lift, clean and replace their ball in closely-mown areas through the green.

The third round will begin at 7:50 a.m. Saturday with twosomes going off the first tee in 9-minute intervals. The leaders will be in the last two groups at 1:05 and 1:15 p.m.

Notebook: Numerous 2008 Nationwide Tour graduates are in the field this week, including David Mathis (7 under, tied for ninth), Brendon De Jonge, Darron Stiles and Brendon Todd (each at 3 under, tied for 58th). Also playing is 2005 graduate Jason Gore (6 under, tied for 19th). These players did not get into the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on the TOUR and still have status on the Nationwide Tour. Playing competitive tournament rounds here helps to keep their games in top form. ... Major Manning matched Gardiner's 8-under 63 in the second round. Manning's 63 followed a 1-over 72 in Round 1, catapulting him from a tie for 115th to a tie for ninth. ... David Branshaw made a hole-in-one on No. 3 from 215 yards with a hybrid. This is the seventh ace since the event moved to TPC Wakefield Plantation in 2001 and the third on this hole. ... Sixteen-year-old Andrew Knoxof Cary, N.C. shot 2 under in the second round and finished at even-par 142 for the tournament. Although he missed the cut by three strokes, Knox outplayed 44 professionals in the field. He gained a sponsor exemption by winning the Junior Invitational event held at TPC Wakefield Plantation last Sunday. North Carolina's top-16 high school girls and top-56 high school boys were invited to participate.

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