Herman back on the right track at PHS Wichita OpenJune 22, 2012
Phil Stambaugh, Nationwide Tour staff
WICHITA, Kan. -- Jim Herman wasn't happy with his performance at last week's U.S. Open at The Olympic Club, finishing 36 holes at 10-over and missing the cut. So he came to Wichita for this week's Nationwide Tour event determined to do something about it. If his first 36 holes this week are any indication, Herman is definitely on the right track.
After posting a 66 in the afternoon yesterday, the 34-year-old Herman used a run of five consecutive birdies on Crestview Country Club's back nine to shoot 64 on Friday, one of four players to record a 7-under score in Round 2. Herman's bogey-free score of 12-under 130 for the first 36 holes led to a two-stroke lead over Stanford product Joseph Bramlett, a runner-up earlier this year at the Chile Classic presented by Pacific Rubiales, and veteran Robert Damron, the winner of the 2001 Verizon Byron Nelson Classic on the PGA TOUR and the 2008 Athens Regional Foundation Classic on the Nationwide Tour.
Herman's stretch of consecutive birdies on the back nine started with a five-footer at the short par-4 11th after almost driving the green. He then holed 15- and 25-foot birdie putts and the next two par-4s before two-putting from 20 feet for birdie at the par-5 14th. His last birdie of the day came at the par-4 15th when he holed an eight-foot putt.
Herman's two-day total this week was also just one stroke off Camilo Benedetti's best first 36 holes on the 2012 Nationwide Tour, recorded at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. The Palm City, Fla. resident was a 36-hole co-leader earlier this year at the Stadion Classic at the University of Georgia tournament and eventually finished solo sixth in Athens. His only victory on the Nationwide Tour came at the 2010 Moonah Classic in Australia where he was the solo leader after the first two days.
"I really wasn't very happy with my effort at Olympic last week. I hit some sloppy shots and knew I could play better than that," Herman said. "Today, I knew everything was going along pretty well because my putter was really working. Overall, I'll take another bogey-free round today and move on to the weekend. I just want to keep doing what I do and that's hitting a lot of greens. Sometimes I struggle doing that."
Both Bramlett and Damron played in the afternoon but with light winds, each took advantage of the benign conditions. Bramlett's 64 matched the same number he posted in the final round in Chile earlier this year and included a 5-under 31 on the back nine with four birdies over his last five holes.
"I'm happy to get off to a good start this week. I had never been to Kansas before playing here this year and it's nice to not be hovering around the cut line. I've done that quite a few times on Friday this year," Bramlett said.
Damron's 65 was his best score on the 2012 Nationwide Tour and he got off to a fast start in his second round with birdies on four of his first five holes, not having to make a putt longer than 10 feet during that stretch.
"I had my short irons going early and thought if I just got it around the hole, I'd make it. I really didn't hit the ball that great overall and made some mistakes that I got away with, " Damron said. "I've been able to play a full schedule this year for the first time and that's been good. I haven't done that in awhile due to injury, apathy, you name it."
A group of six other players, including first-round leader Casey Wittenberg, are in a group at 9-under 133 and just three strokes off the pace.
For the second consecutive year in Wichita, 65 players made the cut and this year's cut number was 4-under 138. Last year's cut at Crestview Country Club fell at 2-under 140. It matched the lowest cut on the 2012 Nationwide Tour -- 4-under 138, Chitimacha Louisiana Open.
• Second-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win this event nine times in the previous 22 years in Wichita. The last to do so at this tournament was Scott Piercy in 2008. Thus far on the 2012 Nationwide Tour, four of 11 events have been won by the 36-hole leader/co-leaders. However, the last player to lead at the halfway point and go on to win was Luke List at the South Georgia Classic in Valdosta. List led by one stroke after two rounds and eventually won by two strokes.
• Bubba Dickerson eagled both par-5s on his first nine today (Nos. 14 & 18), becoming the 18th different player to make a pair of eagles in the same round on the 2012 Nationwide Tour.
• Luke List, currently 2nd on the 2012 Nationwide Tour money list, made the biggest move up the leaderboard in Round 2, jumping 79 spots into a T15 after shooting 64 on Friday, his best round of the season.
• After 79 players recorded sub-70 scores in Round 1, 80 players shot scores in the 60s today. Last year on Friday, there were 60 scores in the 60s at Crestview. The second-round scoring average today was 69.769, the second-lowest for a Friday on the Nationwide Tour this season. Last year's Friday scoring average at the PHS Wichita Open was 70.659.
• Matt Davidson, making his first start on the Nationwide Tour since the 2011 Nationwide Tour Championship at the end of the season, is T15 through 36 holes of the PHS Wichita Open. Davidson finished No. 34 on the 2011 money list, a slot that earned him complete exempt status before a pickup basketball game in the off-season delivered a left-knee injury. He will play tomorrow's third round with two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen who is also T15 at 7-under through the first two rounds.