Daily Wrap-up: Valero Texas Open, Round 2April 20, 2012
Staff and wire reports
SAN ANTONIO -- Ben Curtis can't pick his schedule like the old days. The former British Open champion, whose status has sunk near the lowest on the PGA TOUR, now waits for the phone to ring to find out whether tournaments can squeeze him in.
But heading into the weekend, at least, he's back in control.
Wrapping up his second round at the Valero Texas Open just before a two-hour storm delay left behind a stiff wind that protected the early leaders, Curtis shot another bogey-free 5-under 67 on Friday to finish at 10 under. He was two strokes ahead of David Mathis and three in front of Cameron Tringale and Matt Every.
Mathis matched Curtis with a 67, Tringale had a 65, and Every was poised to inch even closer before darkness suspended play. He'll line up for an 11-foot birdie chance on the par-4 17th when second-round play resumes Saturday.
"We'll see how it goes over the weekend," Curtis said. "When you're not playing the schedule that you want, you don't have it all laid out in front of you before the year starts, you're kind of playing when you can. It's hard."
In his first time playing TPC San Antonio, Curtis has looked right at home after starting the year in Dubai and hopping around on the European Tour. The Valero Texas Open is just his fourth PGA TOUR stop because of his low conditional status following a miserable 2011, when he didn't muster a top-10 finish for the first time since joining the TOUR in 2003.
Projected points The race for spots in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup continues this week. Click to see who's making moves. Projections
That's the year Curtis came out of nowhere to win at the British Open. He racked up two more TOUR victories in 2006 but hasn't won since, and his 149th ranking on the money list last year was a career-worst. The slump, Curtis said, has left him not only trying to repair his game but also his mindset.
No longer able to pick and choose where he plays, Curtis described simply being "ready to go" if his phone rings the week before a tournament. He said he tries to focus on the 12 to 15 starts he expects to make this year rather than dwell on his place near the bottom rung of the tour.
The 36-hole lead is his first since the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2010.
"Everybody knows me, know that I don't stress about much," Curtis said. "If you see me stressing it's probably over nothing, too. I usually sweat the small stuff, and the big stuff, I don't really worry about."
Shot of the Day
Bill Lunde holes a birdie chip shot on the par-5 18th hole.
Tringale and Scott Piercy, who started the day 4 over, vaulted back into contention with their 65s. Tringale began a bogey-free round with birdies on five of his first six holes, using his irons on the fairway to setup four putts from 4 feet or closer.
"There was no wind this morning and it was a little softer," said Triangle, who finished eighth at the Houston Open earlier this month. "So you could be a little more aggressive to the pins."
The afternoon group wasn't so lucky. A still morning gave way to 20-mph gusts delivered by a passing storm cell, freezing the leaderboard and raising the projected cut line to 4 over. Troy Matteson tumbled hardest, slipping from fourth to potentially out after an 81 summed up by a quadruple-bogey on the par-5 14th.
A dozen players shot in the 60s before play was suspended. After play resumed, no one cracked 70.
Twenty-five players will finish the second round Saturday. Among those near the top is Frank Lickliter II, who was 3 under and tied for eighth with one hole left to play.
TPC San Antonio: Round 2 EASIEST HOLE TOUGHEST HOLE The par-5 14th hole was the easiest with a Friday scoring average of 4.778.
EAGLES: 1 BIRDIES: 45 PARS: 67 BOGEYS: 10 OTHERS: 3
The par-4 14th hole was the toughest with a Friday scoring average of 4.675.
EAGLES: 0 BIRDIES: 5 PARS: 50
BOGEYS: 56 OTHERS: 15
About the leader • In his first Valero Texas Open start, Ben Curtis opened with back-to-back, bogey-free 5-under 67s in the first two rounds of the Valero Texas Open. At 10-under, he leads by two strokes. • This week marks the first time since Round 1 and 2 of the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open that Curtis has posted back-to-back rounds in the 60s. • After missing just two greens in regulation in round one, Curtis found just 10 of 18 in round two. As a result, he needed six fewer putts in Fridays second round, just 23. • Curtis, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is in search of his first win since the 2006 84 Lumber Classic. He has collected just a pair of top-10 finishes since 2009; Sixth at the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational and T4 at the 2009 Travelers Championship. • Curtis, playing out of the 126-150 category, is making just his fourth start of the season this week, with his only made cut being a T14 at the Puerto Rico Open presented by seepuertorico.com. • Because of his 2003 British Open victory, Curtis maintains fully-exempt status on the European Tour. He competed in three consecutive events abroad in January and February; Abu Dhabi Golf Championship (T48), Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (T47) and the Dubai Desert Classic (T13). • Dating to 2000, four second-round leaders of the Valero Texas Open have held on for the win; Eric Axley (2006), Tommy Armour III (203), Loren Roberts (2002) and Justin Leonard (2001). This year, three of 16 second-round leaders have gone on to win on the PGA TOUR.
Matt Kuchar, the tournament's top-ranked player at No. 15, faded to 2 over after bogeying four on the back end. Diego Velasquez had a hole-in-one on the par-3 13th and finished at 4 over.