PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Jimmy Walker has closed to within two of Steve Marino’s lead with a strong run at Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
The former Nationwide Tour Player of the Year just birdied the 11th hole, his second straight and the fifth of the round, to move to 9 under. He has yet to miss a green in regulation on Saturday and has moved up 21 spots on the leaderboard.
Walker started the 2011 season on a strong note when he finished solo fourth at the Sony Open in Hawaii. He has cashed checks in his other two events on TOUR this year, as well.
Kevin Stadler is off to a hot start at Spyglass Hill, as well. He started his back and birdied his first six holes to move from even par to 5 under. That’s a jump of 63 spots – and more importantly, puts him back inside the cutline.
A bogey on the par-5 12th hole may have just ended Kevin Stadler’s chances to win. Stadler missed the fairway left on the 596-yard hole and never was able to recover. It also brought to an end a stretch of 29 holes without a bogey for Stadler – his last came on the par-5 ninth on Friday.
The bogey also dropped Stadler three back of Rocco Mediate. Alex Prugh, meanwhile, has now moved into second. He’s two back and even on his round through 10 holes in what are less-than-ideal conditions with rain soaking the golf course. Just ask Bo Van Pelt. He’s 3 over through 10 holes and has dropped back into a four-way tie for third place.
So much for big leads. Rocco Mediate’s advantage is now down to three strokes with Kevin Stadler suddenly moving into contention thanks to two birdies and an eagle over his last three holes.
With more than $765,000 in earnings (good for 108th on the money list), Stadler’s card is probably already safe for next year barring some sort of implosion. Still, a good performance couldn’t have come at a better time for Stadler.
Over his last seven starts, Stadler has missed five cuts. The two he did make? He didn’t finish in the top 60. He does, however, have four top-10s this season and right now is projected to climb to inside the top 90 on the money list should the leaderboard stay as is.
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