By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Not everyone was sold on the belly putter.
Mark Anderson, who opened the year using one, shelved it midseason for a conventional one. That decision didn’t last long, though, with Anderson putting it back in his bag last week.
It turned out to be a timely move. Anderson shot 67 Friday at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, where he’s one of a number of players hovering near the lead at 9 under halfway through the season-ending tournament.
”I went back to the short putter because it felt really great and I made a lot of putts with it,” Anderson said. “The last month or two I've hit the ball very well, but I just haven't made the putts. So it was kind of a last minute do or die deal.”
At 170th on the money list coming into the week, Anderson needed a big week to have any hope of securing his card for next year.
The last time Anderson, who hasn’t always used a belly putter, put one in his bag was at the end of last year’s Web.com Tour season. He finished second at the Miccosukee Championship, then tied for seventh a week later at the Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open Presented by Planters.
“I know I can putt well with it,” he said.
Friday, he missed just two putts inside 10 feet, and he made a couple beyond that range, too, on his way to 27 total putts after hitting 14 greens in regulation.
Said Anderson: ”I know I can putt well with the short putter, but in the meantime while I can still putt with it, I'm going to use it.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- This season started out promising enough for Charles Howell III.
Howell tied for second at the Sony Open in Hawaii and looked like his first win in five years might not be far behind. Not so much.
“I played like a dog the rest of the year pretty much,” said Howell, who at one point in the middle of the year missed nine of 14 cuts.
That changed a few weeks ago, though. Howell tied for 11th at the Frys.com Open and followed with a tie for seventh at The McGladrey Classic.
“I went into the Fall Series to try to get some confidence going to prepare in the off season to play better for next year,” Howell said.
He seems to have found some.
Friday, Howell shot a 67 to get to 9 under halfway through the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. Through the first two rounds here, Howell has hit 29 of 36 fairways.
“It was a struggle this year,” Howell admitted. “I've played a little bit better than I thought I would the last few weeks, but I'm getting some confidence back, which is always good. And I'm much more positive going into my off-season practice than I was if I had ended just right after the FedExCup.”
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A day after shooting an 8-under 64 to take the overnight lead, Charlie Wi is just 1 under through his first 15 holes here in the second round. In other words, he’s playing the more difficult Magnolia Course.
The difference between the Palm and Magnolia Courses in the opening round was just over two strokes. Today, there’s less than a half-stroke difference between the two.
The latter makes the 66 Ryuji Imada shot on the Magnolia in Round 2 all the more impressive. Imada is 9 under through the first two rounds, along with Matt Jones, who shot 64 on the Palm Course.
Four others, including Wi, are also at 9 under, though they all have holes left to play. Among that group? Charles Howell III.
For whatever reason, Howell always seems to play some of his best golf this time of year. He tied for 11th at the Frys.com Open and seventh at The McGladrey Classic, and he’s in contention here again, where he’s tied for ninth twice since 2006.
As for the top 125 on the money list, you can track the live projected standings here .
Prior to the second round of the 2012 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, Doug Bell and Dennis Paulson from SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio describe the conditions for good scoring.
Following his opening-round 64 at the 2012 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, Charlie Wi meets with the media and talks about what got his round going.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Charlie Wi is in a familiar position: In the lead after the first round.
Wi shot an 8-under 64 Thursday on the Palm Course at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. It is the eighth time in his career he has been atop the leaderboard after the opening day.
Whether he can stay there is another matter. The 40-year-old has yet to win in 183 starts on the PGA TOUR.
For now, though, Wi owns a one-shot lead over Tommy Gainey and Camilo Villegas. Gainey is trying to win for a second straight start, while Villegas is looking for his first win since 2010.
“The Palm Course is a course where you need to score,” Wi said. “All the par 5s are reachable so I felt like I took advantage of them.”
Specifically the seventh hole, where Wi sank an eagle putt from 15 feet. “When I made [that], I felt like I had something special going today,” said Wi, who took just 22 putts Thursday.
Twice this year Wi has been similarly special. He opened with a 61 in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and a 66 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. He finished second and 29th, respectively, in those events.
Thursday, Wi played the par 5s in 5 under. He also made eight birdies and an eagle, which included a chip-in on No. 9 to go out in 30 before closing out his round with back-to-back birdies.
Should Wi go on to win, he would move inside the top 30 on the money list, which would earn him a spot in next year’s Masters.
“I wasn’t showing up just to play,” Wi said. “I wanted to finish strong.”
That’s been easier said than done. Wi ranks 157th and 146th, respectively, in third and fourth-round scoring average.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There are more than spots in the top 125 on the money list on the line this week, at least for Brian Harman.
Harman entered the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic 85th in money. After a 66, however, he’s projected to move up 20 spots, which would guarantee him a spot in all the invitationals next year.
The rookie out of the University of Georgia has had an impressive season so far -- he tied for fifth at The Barclays, 10th at the CIMB Classic, 11th at the AT&T National and posted back-to-back T-15s at the John Deere Classic and RBC Canadian Open in mid-summer.
“It’s been the most fun year of my life,” Harman said Thursday.
After five birdies, an eagle and no bogeys on the Palm Course in the opening round, next season could be even more fun.