Herman, Horschel share lead at Stadion Classic at UGAMay 04, 2012
Joe Chemycz, Nationwide Tour staff
ATHENS, Ga. -- Friday was Billy Horschel's turn. After watching playing partner Kent Jones shoot a course-record 63 in Thursday's opening round of the Stadion Classic at UGA, Horschel popped eight birdies on the board and posted his own 63 Friday to move into a share of the 36-hole lead.
Horschel's bogey-free effort put him at 10-under 132 after two days at the University of Georgia Golf Course and tied for first place with Jim Herman, who quietly carved out his second straight 5-under 66.
Horschel and Herman were both in the first groups off the tee Thursday morning and Friday afternoon and finished up within minutes of each other on the huge double-green that looks like a giant horseshoe. Horschel got up-and-down for par at No. 9 while Herman tapped in for birdie at No. 18.
Luke List, winner of last week's South Georgia Classic in Valdosta, shot a 4-under 67 in the morning and held the clubhouse lead at 9-under 133 for half the day. List is tied for third with cross-handed Josh Broadaway of Albany, GA, Australia's Aron Price, who reeled off six consecutive birdies at one point and shot a 5-under 67 and Californian Jason Gore, who opened with four straight birdies to move into contention.
Monday qualifier Brandon Brown (69) and Cliff Kresge (66) share seventh place at 8-under 136, two back.
Horschel, a former Florida Gator, admitted he would have liked to shoot 62 and own the outright record on the rival Bulldogs' home course but it just wasn't to be. The former All-American also admitted he was in his own little zone toward the end of his front nine and wasn't paying attention to what Jones or Doug LaBelle, the third member of the group, was doing.
"Your mind just shuts down, which is the greatest thing in the world," said Horschel about his zoning out. "You don't think much. You see the shot, you see the line on the green and you just go ahead and hit it. You don't worry about the speed."
Horschel's putting has been much improved the last few weeks following a session with his coach at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
"I've always been a bit of a 'pop' putter. I don't take it back far enough, I accelerate really fast and have too much follow through," he said. "Now I try to make sure it goes back only as far as it needs to go. You don't worry about adding any 'hit' to it at all. My speed has been good since then."
Horschel had a lot of opportunities to work on his putting Friday because he hit 17 greens in regulation.
"I birdied my 10th hole to go to six-under and my goal today was to shoot 6-under. I had eight holes left," he said. "When you meet your goal midway through the round you've got to raise the bar again to keep yourself going."
Meantime, Herman was quietly plugging along on the opposite side of the course. The former Cincinnati resident opened with a bogey on No. 1 but then added a trio of paired-up birdies. Herman birdied Nos. 4 & 5, Nos. 11 & 12 and then Nos. 17 &18.
His final birdie at the 488-yard 18th came after a whopping 344-yard drive left him with only a pitching wedge to the green.
"I don't know if I hit a sprinkler head or what but I was able to get it way down the fairway," said Herman, who averages about 300 yards off the tee but has bulked up his stats and is averaging 327.5 yards in driving distance this week. "It was a big advantage to be able to stop the ball and play it off the slope."
Herman's wedge nestled in tight and left him an easy putt to tie Horschel for the lead.
• Friday's weather: Cloudy in the morning with periods of light rain. Mostly sunny in the afternoon. Wind light and variable. High of 85.
• A total of 63 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-under 140.
• This is the third year the tournament has been held at the UGA course and the first time the cut has been under par. The cut was 1-over in 2010 and 2-over par last year.
• Zack Miller withdrew prior to the start of the second round.
• Defending champion Russell Henley missed the cut after posting scores of 69-74 -- 143.
• Billy Horschel's 8-under 63 tied the course record set on Thursday morning by playing partner Kent Jones.
• Horschel's 63 today was a career-best for the former Gator. Horschel's previous low was a 64 in the second round of The McGladrey Classic last year on the PGA TOUR.
• Tyrone Van Aswegen (67-68) is 7 under after two rounds despite hitting only 13 of 28 fairways the first two days. Van Aswegen found the short grass only four times in 14 tries on Friday but still managed to shoot a 3-under 68.
• David Skinns hit 16 of 18 greens on Friday and shot a 1-under 70 but had 34 putts. Skinns was a Monday qualifier at last week's South Georgia Classic and finished T18, which earned him a spot in this week's field.
• Fabian Gomez tied the tournament record with five consecutive birdies. Gomez had his run on holes 7-11. He countered those five birdies with five bogeys on the day and shot an even-par 71.
• Aron Price set a tournament record with six straight birdies. Price had his streak on holes 4-9.
• Corey Nagy and Price both tied the tournament record of 5-under 30 on the front nine today. Both players had six birdies and one bogey.
• Georgia grad Paul Claxton continues to roll along in 2012. Claxton posted scores of 68-71 -- 139 (-3) and has made the cut in all eight of his starts this season. The eight in a row matches Claxton's career-best run of consecutive cuts. He made eight straight in 1995 but did not have a top-10 finish. He also made eight straight last year but, again, did not have a top-10 finish. This year, Claxton has a pair of top-3 finishes and came into the week No. 7 on the money list. Claxton has made a combined 481 career starts since 1994 -- 375 on the Nationwide Tour and 106 on the PGA TOUR. He is No. 2 on the Tour's All-Time money list behind Darron Stiles.
• First-round lead Kent Jones shot a 2-over 73 and is 6-under through two days. Jones is T13.
• Nagy had eight birdies in round two and shot a 1-under 70. Nagy also penciled in four bogeys and one triple-bogey on his card. He missed the cut. Nagy opened with a 5-over 76 Thursday but had seven birdies in his first 10 holes and was 1-under for the tournament. He then went bogey/triple/bogey. Nagy had 9-hole scores of 30-40 today.
Justin Bolli 70-69 -- 139 -3 T36 Brian Carter (am) 72-72 -- 144 +2 MC Paul Claxton 68-71 -- 139 -3 T36 Russell Henley 69-74 -- 143 +1 MC Matt McQuillan 71-71 -- 142 E MC Scott Parel 73-69 -- 142 E MC Nicholas Reach (am) 75-72 -- 147 +5 MC Richard Scott 75-70 -- 145 +3 MC Hudson Swafford 66-70 -- 136 -6 T13
• There are nine current or former Georgia Bulldogs in the field this week:
• Players who were bogey free in round two:
63 -- Billy Horschel 65 -- James Hahn 66 -- David May, Cliff Kresge, Joseph Bramlett 68 -- Shawn Stefani, Michael Sim, Steven Alker 69 -- Erik Flores, Scott Parel
• Players who were bogey free in round one:
1. Andres Gonzales 69-73 -- 142 Even MC 2. Luke List 66-67 -- 133 -9 T3 3. Paul Haley 71-69 -- 140 -2 T52 4. Andrew Svoboda 69-69 -- 138 -4 T27 5. Alex Aragon 71-72 -- 143 +1 MC 6. Skip Kendall - dnp - 7. Paul Claxton 68-71 -- 139 -3 T36 8. Brian Stuard 72-69 -- 141 -1 MC 9. Edward Loar - dnp - 10. Casey Wittenberg 73-68 -- 141 -1 MC
63 -- Kent Jones 66 -- Hudson Swafford 67 -- Steve LeBrun, Aron Price, Woody Austin 68 -- Tim Wilkinson, Alex Coe, Alex Prugh 69 -- Jerod Turner 70 -- Brenden Pappas • Eight of the top-10 money winners were entered this week but only four advanced to the final two days:
• Two current University of Georgia golfers were given sponsor exemptions into the field this week. Sophomore Brian Carter (72-72 -- 144) and freshman Nicholas Reach (75-72) both missed the 36-hole cut.
Round Front 9 (35) Back 9 (36) Total (71) Cumulative R1 35.083 35.744 70.827 -- R2 34.929 35.735 70.665 --
• Scoring averages for the week:
• The Nationwide Tour will take next week off before resuming play at the BMW Charity Pro-Am presented by SYNNEX Corporation in Greenville, SC. The tournament will be staged at three different courses in the greater Greenville area -- Thornblade Club (host), Greenville CC and Carolina CC -- May 14-20.