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    • Sucher leads, Lyle near top at Midwest Classic

    • Zack Sucher is in command at the midway point of the Midwest Classic. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)Zack Sucher is in command at the midway point of the Midwest Classic. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

    OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Alabama’s Zack Sucher fired an 8-under 63 Friday and moved into the lead at the halfway point of the Web.com Tour’s Midwest Classic in suburban Kansas City. Sucher chalked up four birdies and an eagle on the back nine at the Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate to finish at 13-under 129, two shots in front of veteran Jason Gore, who also posted a wind-blown 63 in the afternoon.

    Aaron Watkins, who graduated from nearby Kansas State, is alone in third place at 10-under after a round of 65 and Bill Lunde of Las Vegas is at minus-8 after his 6-under 65.

    Four players – Shane Bertsch (70), Steve Allan (67), Kyle Reifers (67) and first-round leader Paul Haley (71) share fifth place, six off the pace.

    A total of 11 players are jammed together at 6-under 136, including Australia’s Jarrod Lyle who has posted scores of 67-69 in his first competitive event in the United States in 29 months. Lyle has battled back from a second bout of leukemia and is aiming for a full-time return to the PGA TOUR for the 2014-15 season that starts in October.

    The 27-year-old Sucher (SOO-ker) continues to steal headlines from the more heralded group around him by finding fairways and rolling in putt after putt.

    “I made a lot of long putts. I wasn’t stuffing it in there close, which is hard to do when it’s windy,” said Sucher, who tied for fourth at last week’s Albertsons Boise Open after holding a similar two-shot lead after two days. “I think one of the hardest things about the wind is putting. It’s bothered me in the past but it didn’t bother me today.”

    Sucher hasn’t been bothered by much this year. He opened last week’s tournament with an 11-under 60. He has four top-10 finishes and eight top-25 finishes in 16 starts and entered the week No. 20 on the money list. His 15 birdies in 36 holes give him 239 for the year, the most on Tour to this point.

    Sucher likes to look at leaderboards and the name behind his is that of Gore, the Tour’s all-time career victory leader (7 wins) who is playing some of his best golf at the age of 40. He’s second in greens in regulation this week and is the only player in the field without a bogey after two days.

    “I’ve played solid all year, which is something new for me. It’s been a much better year,” said Gore, who is No. 18 on the money list. “I’ve had more fun and I’ve been in contention more times this year than probably in my entire career – within the last four or five groups on Sunday. I haven’t capitalized on it but I’ll keep knocking (on the door).”

    The best surprise in the summer heat thus far has been Lyle. The 32-year old has been steady as a rock in his first competitive start since February. His first goal was just to play four rounds – mission accomplished.

    “I’m proud and pleased at the way I’m playing. I’ve been doing a lot of work at home in Australia and here in Orlando to get myself ready for now,” he said. “It shows that the work I’m doing is the right work.”

    Lyle has stayed out of trouble through two days which has allowed him to hit a lot of greens. He has connected 32 of 36 times and leads the field in that category.

    “I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he said. “I would have been happy to make the cut on the number but now I’m in a position where I could make a charge hopefully. Who knows what’s going to happen on the weekend. It’s just a lot of unknowns – how the body holds up, how the fatigue progresses. Now it’s just a bit of a guessing game but everything is heading in the right direction.”

    Zack Sucher captures the 36-hole lead at Midwest Classic
    • Round Recaps

      Zack Sucher captures the 36-hole lead at Midwest Classic


    • Friday weather: Sunny with a mix of high clouds. Winds SSW 15-20 mph with gusts up to 25-30 mph. High of 96 with a heat index of 103.

    • A total of 72 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 1-under 141.

    • Saturday’s play will be in twosomes off the 1st tee. Times will run from 8:00 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. with an expected finish time of 6:00 p.m. CT.

    • Justin Lower withdrew prior to the start of the second round.

    • Eighteen of the top-25 money winners were in the field this week and 12 made the 36-hole cut, led by No. 2 Andrew Putnam (69-69—138/T26). Jon Curran, No. 5, and Andres Gonzales, No. 7, both missed the cut.

    Steven Alker, No. 9 and winner of the Cleveland Open, will be around for the weekend, as will Steve Wheatcroft, winner of last week’s Albertsons Boise Open and No. 11 on the money list.

    • Two-time PGA TOUR champion D.J. Trahan has posted scores of 67-72 (T37) and is hoping that he has begun to turn the corner on problems that have plagued him for the past couple of seasons.

    Trahan, 33, has missed the cut in all four PGA TOUR starts this year and is now 3-for-12 on the Web.com Tour with a T27 his best finish.

    • Lost among the headlines this week was the return of Australian Michael Sim, the 2009 Web.com Tour Player of the Year. Sim had been gone from competitive play in the United States for nearly two years before teeing it up Thursday morning. His last event was the 2012 Miccosukee Championship. His last PGA TOUR start was the 2011 Children’s Miracle Hospitals Network Classic (W/D).

    Sim admitted he suffered a bit of burnout after losing his PGA TOUR following the 2011 season.

    “Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve played golf since I got my first club at the age of five. I’ve been playing junior tournaments since I was nine and was playing international golf when I was 17. I just took a bit of a break from the game and I’ve come back in a good place. I’m back playing. I’ve set some goals and am really enjoying my golf again.”

    Sim saw glimpses of hope this week despite missing the cut after rounds of 73-72.

    “I drove the ball really well and gave myself a lot of opportunities,” he said. “Thursday I just didn’t putt that well but I think I could have easily been in the mix. When it’s windy and you’re behind the cut, you press a little bit. I was pretty happy with the majority of my game.”

    Sim will play next week’s Stonebrae Championship, where he was the inaugural winner in 2009.

    “From here on out I’ll potentially play 11 or 12 times. I’ve got some golf coming up.”

    • Harold Varner ran off a string of five consecutive birdies starting at No. 13. Varner also had a pair of eagles during Thursday’s opener. He is at 5-under 139 and T20.

    • Bogey-free rounds this week:
    65 – Sebastian Cappelen, Mark Hubbard
    66 – Derek Fathauer, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, Henrik Norlander
    67 – Jarrod Lyle, Aaron Watkins
    68 – Jason Gore, Aron Price

    63 – Jason Gore
    66 – Steve LeBrun

    • NEXT WEEK: The Web.com Tour heads west for the Stonebrae Championship at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., July 28-Aug. 3. The tournament was on hiatus in 2013 due to the construction of a new clubhouse. The tournament was held from 2009-2012 with Michael Sim, Kevin Chappell, Daniel Chopra and Alex Aragon collecting the titles. The total purse will be $600,000 with $108,000 going to the winner.

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