PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Since birdieing his first four holes, Chris Stroud has added two more and is 6 under through 14 holes to get to 10 under for the tournament.
Unless something drastic happens, it’s unlikely Stroud will go on to win. But he has shown a propensity to play this course well.
Stroud’s only other trip to TPC Sawgrass was last year when he tied for 10th. Right now, he’s tied for fifth after starting the round in a tie for 34th.
The story of the morning wave and very likely the day was the display that Roland Thatcher put on at the Magnolia Course, shooting a 63 that has him atop the leaderboard at 16 under and four shots clear of his closest competitor.
Thatcher has just one top-10 this season and needs to finish in at least second place by himself to get inside the top 125 on the money list (he’s currently 179th with just one-top 10 this year). Friday, he hit 15 of 18 greens and took just 24 putts on his way to nine birdies and no bogeys.
”Pun intended, I wouldn't mind being referred to as Cinderella for the week,” said Thatcher, who admitted that he was okay with going to the second stage of q-school next week. Obviously his goals have now changed.
“After these first two rounds that I'd like to skip second stage finals if I can,” Thatcher said. “I'm hoping to have a nice long off season and start the year early next year.”
STROUD’S STRONG FINISH: Thatcher’s playing partner the first two rounds was Chris Stroud, who began the day with the lead after an opening-round 62. Friday, he didn’t come close to matching that with a 70, but three straight birdies to close out his round left him within reach of Thatcher.
“Any time you finish birdie, birdie, birdie on this golf course, the Magnolia, you're really happy,” said Stroud, who seven birdies -- and four bogeys -- despite hitting just eight fairways. “I’m just trying to get the ball on the green because I'm putting so well, and I just hung in there, got myself on the fairway the last three holes and got it on the green and made three great putts.”
PETROVIC’S ACE: At just 6 under through two rounds, Tim Petrovic isn’t exactly in contention, but he did have the shot of the day so far with a hole-in-one on the par-3 12th on the Palm Course.
Petrovic said he’s made 12 aces but thought this was his first on the PGA TOUR. “And it's been 10 years,” he added. “I think my last one was in 2000.
Actually, it wasn’t his first ace on TOUR. That came in 2004 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in 2004.
“But I’m not complaining because I've had three double eagles out here,” Petrovic added. “I think I'm the only guy out here with three double eagles.” -- Brian Wacker
In the end, Rickie Fowler’s 6 under didn’t hold up. It is, however, still good enough to leave him in a tie for third after the first round was suspended due to darkness. Only Roland Thatcher and Chris Stroud are ahead of Fowler and four others with Stroud at 10 under and three shots clear of his closest competitor.
Stroud was nearly perfect on a perfect day for scoring, though he was the only player to reach double figures under par on the Palm Course, where he had five birdies a side and took just 22 putts.
While Stroud is safely inside the top 125 on the money list (for now, anyway), Thatcher is not. He came into the week 179th and needs to win to secure his card for next season.
Fowler, meanwhile, is still looking for his first victory of the season after five top-10s, including a pair of runner-up finishes. He opened with a 66 here a year ago as well, but he shot 75 the next day and ultimately finished in a tie for 40th.
The two players that stand to gain the most right now even if neither one of them wins today? Chris Stroud and Michael Allen.
Stroud began his week 125th on the money list … and squarely on the bubble to retain his PGA TOUR card for next season. If the tournament were to end right now and Stroud were to tie for second, he’d move to 93rd and, for all intents and purposes, lock up that card for next year.
Allen, meanwhile, stands to jump 39 spots if he ties for second, which would put him at No. 127. That’s obviously not inside the magic number, but the 51-year-old would be in much better shape should he choose to play on TOUR next season.
To track the projected money list live, click here .
There’s still a lot of golf to be played this week, and the rest of the Fall Series, by Chris Stroud has put himself in good position by climbing to 3 under through his first 11 holes today and 9 under for the week -- the latter of which has him in the top 10.
Stroud entered this week squarely on the bubble at No. 125 on the money list, but a top-10 this week would go a long way toward securing his card for next season.
To track the projected money list live, click here .
The best rounds recorded (so far) here in the second round? The 65 that Roland Thatcher and Chris Stroud each shot. That’s a nine and eight-shot swing, respectively, for two guys who absolutely needed it – Thatcher is 177th on the money list, while Stroud is right one the bubble at 125th.
Thatcher didn’t have a bogey, while Stroud had just one on Friday and both had just 24 putts.
This is the second time that Stroud has gone low of late. Three starts ago, at the Greenbrier Classic, he closed with a 65 to finish in a tie for ninth, which was also his best result of the season. Thatcher, on the other hand, has struggled enormously the last few months with eight missed cuts in his last nine starts.
There are all sorts of low numbers being put up at The Greenbrier -- right now, the top six players on the leaderboard are a combined 37 under today alone. One of those low numbers belongs to Chris Stroud, who just shot an 7-under 63 with eight birdies an no bogeys.
That number easily could have been at least one lower if not for a missed 8-footer on the final hole. Still, the 63 betters his best score of the year by three strokes and matches his career low (twice, most recently at the 2009 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open).
And it couldn’t have come at a better time for Stroud, who entered the week 129th in the FedExCup standings. -- Brian Wacker