Wrap-up: Hicks pulls ahead at Web.com Tour finale

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October 26, 2012
Royce Thompson, Web.com Tour staff

MCKINNEY, Texas -- On a day where most of the first-round leaders were moving backward Justin Hicks grinded out a two-under-par 69 at TPC Craig Ranch in the second to take a two-shot lead into the weekend at the season-ending Web.com Tour Championship.

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Two shots back are Canadian Brad Fritsch and first-round co-leader Justin Bolli.

Four players are three shots back including last week's winner Russell Henley and James Hahn, who is 13th in earnings..

With the wind and cold weather playing a key factor in making conditions tougher on Friday Hicks was able to stay patient by relying on stellar ball striking.

"I'm just trying to hit a lot of fairways and greens and hopefully give myself a lot of opportunities and get one or two to fall," he said "On a demanding golf course like this greens in regulation are going to be a key to guys playing well, I think. And lucky for me, between the conditions and the golf course, it suits a guy that's going to hit a lot of greens."

Fritsch, who is 21st on the money list, is looking to earn his PGA TOUR card for the first time. His best finish to date on the Web.com Tour was a T2 at the Mylan Classic in September.

Bolli, a three-time winner on the Web.com Tour, was a member of the PGA TOUR in 2008 and 2010. He came into the Web.com Tour Championship 44th in earnings.

Through two rounds Hicks, the two-time Web.com Tour career winner, is leading the tournament in fairways hit (24/28) and greens in regulation (30/36) which is a direct result of the work he put in on the practice range heading into this week.

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"We obviously regrouped the last few weeks and got a few things figured out," he said. "At the start of the week we've been hitting the ball a lot better and hopefully it will continue over the weekend."

Currently 11th on the Web.com Tour money list, Hicks is hoping to give himself even more chances on the weekend.

"I like to give myself as many opportunities as I can to putt for birdie," he said. "We'll just stick to our formula and try and give ourselves a lot of looks. I have a philosophy that you can never make too many birdies. So, hopefully we just try and make as many birdies as we can and add them up at the end of the week."

With his PGA TOUR card locked up heading into the tournament, the former Michigan Wolverine will also celebrate his birthday at the end of the week.

"I'm 38 on Sunday and I try not to think about being 12 years from the Champions Tour but maybe that age has something to do with how patient I've been," Hicks revealed. "We're already thinking that we have a TOUR card coming as part of my birthday gift. But really a strong week here no matter what it is would be a strong way to finish off this season, especially on my birthday."

On Sunday, the 25 leading money winners will be awarded PGA TOUR cards for 2013.

Second-Round Notes

* Hicks leads the Tour in Greens in Regulation Percentage at 74.88% on the year. He is currently leading the tournament in fairways hit (24 of 28) and greens in regulation (30 of 36).

* There were 16 rounds under par today; there were 40 rounds under par in round one.

* Low round of the day (67) was shared by Hahn and Henley.

* Henley used specific keys to prepare himself for the conditions and also shoot a good round today.

"I think committing to every shot and having a little experience in these conditions with this wind," he said "For me I just tried to leave it on the right side of the hole. I think putting into the wind versus downwind is huge, the same with chipping and we did a good job of that today."

The Former Georgia Bulldog currently sits at No. 3 on the Web.com Tour money list and with a win this week will move into the top spot. The conditions seemed to favor the Georgia native in round two and if they continue he likes his chances this weekend.

"There's a lot of golf left to play, but like I said if it's like this the next two days then I will probably have a good tournament. But the scores are out there for sure, you just need to be in control of what you are doing."

* Hahn also favored the conditions in round two. The cold and wind reminded him of home and allowed him to adapt quickly to the conditions,

"It's brutal out there, windy and cold kind of like California right now," said Hahn. "I'm used to this kind of weather and wearing a beanie and thermals. I'm actually wearing two pair of pants today because I forgot my rain pants. But I practice in this stuff in the off season in San Francisco so I'm used to this. It's weird hitting a 3-iron from 175 and then hitting a pitching wedge from 160, but it's just one of those kind of days."

The California native played his last 14 holes five-under and even more impressive, it was bogey-free. As the conditions toughened the 30-year-old used his imagination to think his way around the golf course.

"It can get a little crazy out there. So you're saying to yourself, where is the best possible place for me to miss and to make par," he said. "Most of the times it's the center of the green, but other times you have to aim at the bunker on the right and try and slice it and have the wind bring it back to the left. You just have to be creative, hit low shots, and have great distant control. It's easy to do because the greens are big out here but you don't want to get on the wrong side of the green as well and so it narrows your focus a bit."

* Luke List's measured drive on the par-5 18th was 398 yards. Yesterday, Camilo Benedetti recorded a drive of 380 yards on the same hole, which played downwind both days.

* Leading money winner Casey Wittenberg is T14 after rounds of 68-71-139 (-3).

21 Brad Fritsch 65-71-136 (-6) T2
22 Jim Herman 69-74-143 (+1) T38
23 Hudson Swafford 69-76-145 (+3) T49
24 Joseph Bramlett 70-71-141 (-1) T24
25 Camilo Benedetti 72-73-145 (+3) T49
26 Doug LaBelle II 70-71-141 (-1) T24
27 Paul Claxton 68-73-141 (-1) T24
28 Alex Aragon 74-73-147 (+5) 57
29 Chris Wilson 71-77-148 (+6) T58
30 Michael Putnam 65-72-137 (-5) T4

*Here is what the money list bubble positions (Nos. 21-30) look like after two rounds:

1 Casey Wittenberg T14
2 Luke Guthrie T8
3 Russell Henley T4
4 Luke List T32
5 Shawn Stefani T43

*The Tour's top-five money leaders and their positions in the field after two rounds:

* Two weeks ago, Ben Martin was 94th on the money list. He finished third in last week's Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open to earn the 60th and final spot in this week's field. A win or runner-up this week would complete a remarkable turnaround to earn his PGA TOUR card. After two rounds, the former Clemson Tiger is T8 after a pair of 69s.

TPC Craig Ranch
  Front 9 (36) Back 9 (35) Total (71)
R1 35.17 34.48 69.65
R2 36.42 35.55 71.97
CUM 35.79 35.02 70.81
* No player was bogey-free in round two.

*Scoring averages for the week:

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