As he slogged through an afternoon complicated by remnants of Hurricane Earl, Kris Blanks couldn’t help but wonder what the over and under would be on how many times he'd open up his umbrella.
"It was actually really good that we were the first group out and that we were all fast players," Blanks said. "So there was occasional times when it was coming down pretty good, we could actually wait it out for a minute, let it clear, because we didn't have anybody riding us, and we were never going to catch the group in front of us being that it's a smaller field."
Blanks, who managed to persevere and shoot 66 in the first round, is due to tee off in Saturday's opening threesome with Aaron Baddeley and Tom Gillis at 7 a.m. Given that the worst of the hurricane is expected overnight, Blanks is a little worried about what he might find when he returns to TPC Boston in the morning.
"We don't have a thunderstorm coming through, we have a hurricane that's going to hit our area," Blanks said. "There's going to be debris everywhere. I'd be shocked if they can get the golf course prepared after a night of torrential downpour and 60 mile an hour winds at 7 in the morning.
"I'm hoping they kind of look ahead and say, we only have 100 guys, we can push it back to 10, give the maintenance crew some extra time in the morning. But I'll be here at 5:30 ready to go. If they tell us there's a delay we'll just hang out in the locker room."
Blanks started the Deutsche Bank Championship ranked 91st in the FedExCup so his strong start was well-timed. When he finished late Friday afternoon the second-year pro was projected at No. 71 -- one spot away from qualifying for the BMW Championship -- with plenty of golf to be played.
"It was definitely what I needed to do, definitely outside looking in for next week, and used the long week this week to stay and practice a little longer," Blanks said. "I did the two pro-ams first part of the week. Actually had planned on going home and just kind of thought about it and said, well if I play poorly this week I'll have three weeks off, so why not hang around -- and not that I don't put forth my best effort every week, but hang around, work on some things, try to take advantage of the nice practice facilities here, and so far it's paid off."
His first name is actually Kristoffer, and he was was named after the actor/singe Kris Kristofferson. “My mom thought he was cute and the movie ‘The Rose’ was coming out at the time she was pregnant,” Blanks is quoted as saying in the PGA TOUR media guide.
He’s carried the tradition on. His eldest son is also named Kristoffer.
Kris Blanks, who just made the turn three strokes off the pace, may not be a household name. But he is quietly having a solid season with two top-five finishes already.
And Blanks would be the first to give some of the credit to his partnership with caddy A.J. Eathorne, who played a decade on the LPGA Tour.
"She has been a breath of fresh air over the past six months now," Blanks said.
Blanks met her through a mutual friend, NHL Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr, last year during the Frys.com Open. Turns out Eathorne is from British Columbia, as is Blanks' wife, Tami, who is five years older.
"Funny because A.J. actually looked up to my wife as a junior
golfer," Blanks said. "My wife was the best junior golfer in
British Columbia until A.J. came along and broke all of her
records. So they kind of knew each
other, which actually helped out a lot.
"It's not every day you go home and tell your wife you're going to have a female caddy on the road."
The partnership has been a good one. Blanks finished second in Puerto Rico and tied for fifth at the Verizon Heritage -- already doubling his top-10 total from his rookie season in 2009. So why has it worked so well?
"She has done what I'm trying to do," Blanks said. "She has played in majors. She has almost won tournaments out there. She knows when I need a pep talk. She knows when to just let me go. When she says something, I tend to listen a little bit better just because I know. …
"Or her words of encouragement are, you know, a little more validated than somebody else, maybe that's just because she has been out here for a while. She is a great caddy that knows her numbers. She knows what I'm thinking. She has been where I am at. She knows I don't need a rah-rah speech when I do go off on a tangent and start getting down on myself.
"She lets me go and then says okay, that's enough. I usually go for a couple of more minutes because I want to have the last word. That's just our relationship. So it's definitely been a breach of fresh air and something that I definitely needed."
Those “boos” you’ll be hearing at Colonial today aren’t like the ones you might hear at a basketball or football game.
The fans are actually encouraging Boo Weekley, and so far he’s responding well with birdies on his first two holes. He two-putted from 33 feet on the par-5 first and got up and down from the greenside bunker on the short, par-4 second.
Weekley, who is one of the TOUR’s most solid ball-strikers, now finds himself tied with Carl Pettersson, Jason Bohn and Kris Blanks at 12 under. He’s one stroke off the lead held by Bryce Molder, who has just teed off.
The second round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational is complete with Bryce Molder leading after shooting a career-low 62 on Friday. He’s one stroke ahead of Jason Bohn and two up on Brian Davis and Kris Blanks.
Molder has held the 36-hole lead twice already this year, eventually finishing tied for 10th at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and tied for eighth at the Shell Houston Open. The former Georgia Tech All-American is bidding for his first TOUR win and trying to become the sixth player to win at Colonial in his debut.
Molder isn’t the only one seeking that breakthrough win. Four of the top six players on the leaderboard and five of the top 10 are hoping to make the Crowne Plaza Invitational their first TOUR victory.
A total of 76 pros survived the cut which came at 2 under and was the lowest in the tournament’s 63-year history. Among the notables who won’t be playing the weekend are Masters champion Phil Mickelson and reigning PGA champ Y.E. Yang, as well as former major champs Davis Love III, Justin Leonard, Trevor Immelman, David Duval and Steve Elkington.
The cut line continues to sit at 1 over, which is a good thing for Kris Blanks, who has now made five straight birdies to sneak back inside the line (actually right on it) after an opening-round 77.
Blanks, who tied for fifth in Hilton Head and was second in Puerto Rico, had missed three of his last five cuts and was headed toward another weekend off before going on a birdie run here in the second round. Blanks has seven birdies in all today and has four holes left to try to hang on.
Others who aren’t so fortunate: Jason Gore, Todd Hamilton, Kevin Stadler, Michael Sim, Shaun Micheel, John Daly and Chris DiMarco. All of them are currently on the outside looking in. -- Brian Wacker
Kris Blanks found out the hard way that the pin on 13th can be treacherous if you're not careful with your speed on the greens.
With the pin in the front center/left, Blanks landed his tee shot on the right edge of the green, 24 feet 5 inches from the pin. But he was too aggressive with his birdie putt, with his ball rolling past the hole and down the slope, eventually ending up 39 feet, 6 inches from the pin, just on the fringe near the water.
Now facing a par putt 15 feet longer than his birdie putt, Blanks' next putt ended up 6 feet, 7 inches from the pin. He eventually holed that for bogey.
That was Blanks' first bogey of the day after he started his round with 12 consecutive pars.