By Joe Chemycz, Web.com Tour staff
SANTIAGO, Chile – Edward Loar fired a second straight round of 7-under 65 and moved into the lead at the halfway point of the Chile Classic in Santiago. Loar’s 14-under 130 total put him two strokes in front of Brice Garnett (66) and New Zealand’s Danny Lee (65).
Hunter Haas (66), local favorite Benjamin Alvarado (64) and California’s Byron Smith (65) share fourth place, three off the lead.
First-round leader Whee Kim (70) is at 10-under 134 along with South Africans Tyrone van Aswegen and Brenden Pappas as well as Michael Putnam
A total of 68 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 4-under-par 140, one stroke lower than last year’s mark. The second-round scoring average at the par-72 Prince of Wales Country Club course was 70.148.
“I wouldn’t say you ever expect to shoot that (14-under) but I’ve just played really well,” said Loar, a lefty who lives in the Dallas area. “I’m hitting a lot of fairways and I think that gives you a lot of scoring chances out here and so far I’ve been able to take advantage of it.”
Loar was never in any danger of making bogey during his “stress-free” round. He and the rest of the field have stuffed their drivers in the bag except for the quartet of par 5s.
“I only had to chip twice today and I hit two of the par-5s in two so I didn’t have a whole lot of problems,” said Loar, winner of the 2012 Panama Claro Championship. “I think I had to make two four-footers for par. Obviously there are a lot good things going on.”
Garnett, 29, has put up back-to-back 66s to get into position for the weekend after missing the cut in the first two stops on the Web.com Tour schedule.
“I struggled the past two weeks with my focus and commitment to some shots and a swing here or there cost me,” said Garnett, a Gallatin, Missouri native. “I’ve been putting great and my caddie has been here quite a while. He knows the greens. I’ve overread putts the last year or so and he’s tightened my lines up and everything is looking good. I’ve slowed down my routine and focused a little bit more on each shot. It’s fun to make some birdies this week.”
Lee, the former U.S. Amateur champion who also lives in the Dallas area, opened with a 64 to take the 18-hole lead a week ago at the Colombia Championship but failed to break par in the next three days and tied for 44th.
“I’m going to try and commit to my game plan,” said the 22-year old. “Last week I got aggressive starting Friday and I’ll try not to make that same mistake again. My ball striking is unbelievably good right now and I’m really comfortable where I’m playing.”
Second-Round Notes & Quotes:
-- Friday weather: partly cloudy. Wind S 5-10 mph. High of 82.
-- Mathew Goggin withdrew prior to the start of the second round (illness).
-- Loar’s 14-under 130 total bettered Paul Haley’s 36-hole tournament best set last year during his run to the title in Santiago. Haley went on to finish at 22-under par and win by three strokes.
-- Santiago’s Benjamin Alvarado matched the Prince of Wales CC course record with an 8-under 64 Friday. Alvarado moved into contention with his bogey-free round and is at 11-under par through 36 holes and T4.
-- Todd Demsey and Andres Echavarria both made aces at the 175-yard, 7th hole Friday. Demsey hit a 7-iron for his seventh career hole-in-one, while Echavarria hit an 8-iron for his during the afternoon round.
“It landed about 10 feet right of the hole and took a nice kick to the left,” said Demsey. “I wasn’t expecting it to kick like that.”
For Demsey, it was just his second in competition and first in a professional tournament. His only other one came in the mid-1990s at the Western Amateur in Michigan.
“The fun thing about that one was that my caddie earned one of those Evans Scholarships for it. That was pretty cool.”
-- Kevin Foley, winner of the Panama Claro Championship two weeks ago, fired scores of 67-75 --142 (-2) and missed the 36-hole cut.
-- Joseph Bramlett, runner-up to Paul Haley in 2012, has posted rounds of 68-70—138 (-6) and is T35 heading into the weekend.
-- Brothers Michael and Andrew Putnam were paired together for the first two rounds, the first time in a tournament that the Pepperdine grads played in the same group. The two put a friendly dinner bet on the table but each shot a 5-under 67 to push the wager into Friday’s play. Michael, 30 and six years the senior, fired another 67 to beat his younger brother by six shots. Both players made the cut and will be around for the weekend.
-- Players who were bogey-free in round two:
64 – Benjamin Alvarado
65 – Edward Loar, I.J. Jang, Byron Smith
66 – Brice Garnett, Will Wilcox, Brett Stemaier, Clodomiro Carranza
67 – Hudson Swafford
68 – Todd Demsey
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-- Did You Know About Chile? – The city of Santiago was founded in 1541 by Spanish explorer Pedro de Valdivia. Chile won its independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1810. Most Chileans are of European or mixed European and indigenous ancestry.
-- The Web.com Tour will take next week off before returning to begin play in the continental United States. Next on the schedule is the Chitimacha Louisiana Open at Le Triomphe Country Club March 18-24. Last year Casey Wittenberg fired a 65 in the final round and blitzed the field by a tournament-record eight strokes, which also matched the fourth-largest winning margin in Tour history. Wittenberg made only two bogeys during the week, both were three-putts, and played the final 48 holes without a bogey. The former Oklahoma State star went on to win again in 2012, finish No. 1 on the money list and was named the Web.com Tour Player of the Year.