By Dave Senko, PGA TOUR staff
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Two years ago South Korea’s Seung-Yol Noh finished 37th in the FedExCup standings and advanced to the playoffs at the close of the PGA TOUR season. This year, after making an equipment change, he slipped to 160th on that list and is now in a battle to return to full-time status on the TOUR for the 2013-2014 season.
Noh helped his cause on Friday, shooting a 6-under-par 65 and his 36-hole total of 9-under-par 133 leads Chesson Hadley by two strokes at the halfway point of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship at the Ohio State University Scarlet Course.
Mastering the blustery day with winds 10-20 mph with occasional higher gusts, Noh’s bogey-free round included six birdies and 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
“The course was very difficult today because of the wind,” Noh said. “It was tough to control irons and the putting was also difficult. Today everything went perfect and I was making some putts.”
Noh’s year got off to a slow start after he changed equipment following his 2012 season. After a year when he posted three top-10 finishes and was among the top 25 13 times, Noh managed just one top-10 finish this year and it did not come until August at the Reno-Tahoe Open where he was T7.
“I struggled the first three or four months this year after the equipment change. I had used Titleist for eight years and switched to Nike. I really didn’t feel comfortable until early May,” Noh added. “I changed golf balls three times this year and I tried about 15 putters. I found my driver at Quail Hollow (Wells Fargo Championship).”
Hadley converted a pair of long putts on his way to his 4-under-par 67. He made a 45-footer for a birdie at No. 13 and four holes later nailed a 35-footer on No. 17 for another birdie. His only bogey came at No. 14 when he hit his drive into the trees and eventually missed a 15-footer for par.
“It was nasty out there today, especially at the start. I was just extra patient all day today because I knew par was a good score with these conditions,” Hadley said. “I got a good draw with the tee times because I knew it was cold and windy this morning. You could tell by the scores.”
Hadley finished fifth on the 2013 Web.com Tour money list and has secured his PGA TOUR card for the upcoming campaign. His 6-top-10 finishes included a victory at the Rex Hospital Open in June and a second-place finish at the Mid-Atlantic Championship.
-- Friday weather: Mostly cloudy. Overnight low 54. Daytime high 65. Wind NW 10-20 mph. Colder temperatures are forecast overnight (low of 47) with sunny skies and high of 70 on Saturday.
-- The second round was not completed on time and two players are left to complete two holes on Saturday morning. Play will resume at 7:40 a.m. The third round is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m.
-- Third-round play will be in twosomes off the first tee. There are currently 61 players at 2-over-par 144.
-- Seung-Yul Noh is making only his third start on the Web.com Tour. He tied for seventh at the Hotel Fitness Championship two weeks ago and missed the cut at last week’s Chiquita Classic. His T7 in Fort Wayne has him T17 in the Priority Ranking as he looks to regain his PGA TOUR card.
-- Noh just completed his second full year on the PGA TOUR. He made the cut in 11 of 25 starts and had one top-10 finish – a T7 at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Noh ended the season No. 160 on the FedExCup points list.
-- Noh’s 6-under 65 Friday was the best round of the day and it was the only bogey-free round posted.
-- Noh’s two-stroke lead is the second-largest in tournament history. Trevor Murphy led by four last year.
-- Noh’s two-stroke lead matches the second-largest on Tour this year. Chad Collins led by three at the Utah Championship.
-- This is the second time in Noh’s career that he has held a lead after any single round. He fired a 9-under 62 in the opening round of the 2012 Deutsche Bank Championship and led by one over Chris Kirk. He went on to tie for 13th place.
-- First-round leader Jim Herman posted a 4-over-par 75 and is currently T9.
-- Andy Svoboda, winner of last week’s Chiquita Classic, carded scores of 68-73—141 (-1) and is T17 heading into the weekend.
-- Trevor Immelman, winner of the Hotel Fitness Championship two weeks ago, missed the cut for the second consecutive week. The 2008 Masters champion carded scores of 77-70—147 (+5).
-- Friday’s scoring average is currently 73.058 (with two players yet to finish) and it was the third-highest single-round average in the tournament’s seven-year history. Here are the four toughest days since the tournament began in 2007: