DeMorat takes 36-hole lead at The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic
January 20, 2020
By Stewart Moore, PGATOUR.COM
- January 20, 2020
- Mickey DeMorat made seven birdies in his first nine holes of Round 2 at Royal Blue GC. (Taylor Crosby/PGA TOUR)
NASSAU, The Bahamas — Playing his first full season on the Korn Ferry Tour, Mickey DeMorat birdied seven of his first nine holes during Monday’s second round at Baha Mar’s Royal Blue Golf Course for a 7-under 65, good for an 11-under 133 total and a one-shot lead heading into Tuesday’s third round. Two players on No. 9 have yet to finish their second rounds due to darkness. They will resume play Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. ET.
DeMorat opened his week at Royal Blue Golf Course with a 4-under 68 to sit T9, two shots back of overnight leaders Drew Weaver and Jack Maguire. Starting round two on the front nine, the 24-year-old caught fire early, posting birdies on Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 to turn in 7-under 29 and atop the leaderboard at 11-under par.
“I kind of started off shaky on the first hole. I hit it in the right bunker and nearly topped it out of the bunker but made a nice par save to settle down. After that, I made short putts on Nos. 2 and 3 and played aggressively, hitting driver pretty much everywhere I could,” he said. “It’s always nice to get away from the cut line as early as possible in the second round, so that helped.”
After flirting briefly with thoughts of 59 in his head, DeMorat bogeyed the downhill par-3 10th, which may have been a blessing in disguise.
“I started thinking about it (59) late on the front nine, because I knew No. 11 was coming up and there were other birdie holes. The bogey on 10 brought me back to reality, though. You just have to look at the bigger picture and say, ‘I’m in the hunt, I’m where I want to be,’” said DeMorat.
DeMorat went birdie-bogey on 15 and 16 but closed with a birdie at the docile par-5 18th for a second-round 65 and the first overnight lead of his Korn Ferry Tour career.
“This course has a little bit more room to hit it off the tee, so I’m basically hitting driver as hard as I can off of every hole to give myself as many wedges as I can,” he said.
At last week’s Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, DeMorat was T16 through the first round after a 1-under 71 but bogeyed two of his last three holes in the second round to post 7-over 79, missing the cut by one shot.
The Merritt Island, Florida, native made five starts on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019 with four made cuts, including a season-best T7 at the Panama Championship in February. At Q-School in December, he finished T5 to lock up a guaranteed 12 starts to open up the season, which is a game-changer for any young player looking to settle down and prepare like a professional.
“Last year I had to finish top-25 to get into the next week; otherwise I had to go to a Monday qualifier. This year, I can set my schedule and get to the courses early and practice on Mondays. I know that I can compete when I’m playing well, like I did last year, so hopefully I can draw on that,” he said.
As a junior golfer, DeMorat was home-schooled and played on the Merritt Island High School golf team. He started his college career at Eastern Florida State College before transferring to Liberty University, where he played three seasons and finished with a 72.92 scoring average.
After finishing at Liberty in 2018, he made it through local and sectional U.S. Open qualifying to wind up playing against the game’s best at famed Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. DeMorat made headlines when – without a single sponsor on him – he posted rounds of 72-72—144 to sit T14 through 36 holes. He eventually finished T57.
Scott Gutschewski, making the 192nd start of his Korn Ferry Tour career this week, birdied four of his final five holes for a second-round 66 to sit one back of DeMorat at 10-under. The 43-year-old was tied for the lead for a time late Monday afternoon, but fell to second place when DeMorat birdied the final hole.
Gutschewski is no stranger to Korn Ferry Tour golf, having won the 2003 Monterey Peninsula Classic and 2008 REX Hospital Open. He is a three-time Korn Ferry Tour graduate (2004, 2008, 2010) and made it through the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament in 2006.
Will Wilcox and Qualifying Tournament co-medalist Curtis Thompson are tied for third, two shots back at 9-under 135. Wilcox recorded a second-round 64 (later matched by Sean O’Hair), which broke the previous Royal Blue course record of 65, set by 2018 FedExCup Champion Justin Rose.
Thompson, a long-hitting former standout at LSU, played the Korn Ferry Tour full-time from 2015 through 2018, but quit playing in 2019, opting instead to caddie for sister and LPGA star Lexi Thompson when he wasn’t securing loops as a club caddie. With his T1 finish at Q-School, Thompson is fully exempt for the entire 2020 Regular Season.