Chris Baker, Harry Hall share midway lead at Great Exuma
Second round suspended due to darkness at Sandals Emerald Bay GC
January 18, 2022
By Zach Dirlam , PGATOUR.COM
- January 18, 2022
- Iowa State alum Chris Baker has opened in rounds of 70-67 at Sandals Emerald Bay GC. (Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR)
GREAT EXUMA, The Bahamas – Harry Hall remained tied atop the leaderboard Monday evening following the second round of The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay, but this time around it was Chris Baker, a 2019 Korn Ferry Tour graduate, who equaled his score. Baker and Hall both finished the second round at 7-under par, one stroke ahead of Xinjun Zhang in solo third.
Play was suspended due to darkness at 5:42 p.m. ET, as 16 players had holes remaining in their second round. The second round will resume at 7 a.m. ET, with the cut line and third-round tee times being determined upon its conclusion.
Baker matched the lowest round of the tournament with a 5-under 67 Monday. The Seymour, Indiana native who plays from Jacksonville Beach, Florida posted the only bogey-free scorecard of the second round. In fact, the only blemish on Baker’s scorecards through 36 holes was a double bogey at the par-5 18th, his final hole Sunday.
“The weather was nice. Been here four years now and this is one of the few rounds the wind hasn’t been blowing 20 miles per hour,” said Baker, whose only made cut in three starts at this event came in 2017, the tournament’s inaugural year. “Any lack of confidence on any tee shot out there, you can find yourself hitting another one, or dropping a ball in a hazard. It’s one of those courses where you want to be sharp. It’s a difficult golf course, and a good layout.”
Baker is back with the Korn Ferry Tour after two seasons on the PGA TOUR. The Iowa State University alum finished No. 15 in the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour Finals Points Standings and earned his first PGA TOUR card, but ranked 163rd and 200th in the FedExCup Standings in 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively.
Three finishes outside the top 40 at the 2021 Korn Ferry Tour Finals sent Baker back to the Final Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament. Baker earned eight guaranteed starts with a T14 finish there last November.
Prior to what became the 2020-21 season, Hall finished T114 at the Final Stage of the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying Tournament, leaving him with conditional status. The Englishman earned his first Korn Ferry Tour start via a 4-for-3 playoff at a Monday qualifier for the 2020 Korn Ferry Challenge at TPC Sawgrass, the Tour’s first event following the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus. A second successful Monday qualifier two weeks later at the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank culminated in a T36, giving him enough points to earn starts with his priority number following a reshuffle.
Roughly a year later, Hall won the Wichita Open Benefitting KU Wichita Pediatrics to earn fully exempt status for the rest of the 2020-21 season and all of 2022.
Now Hall has 11 birdies through two rounds (tied for the most in the field), three of which came in his final six holes Monday, and is 36 holes away from an even bigger victory.
“I’m excited about this year because I’ll have the same amount of starts as everybody else,” said Hall, who played 30 of the Tour’s 46 events last season. “Over the two-year season … I think I played 10 or 11 less than everybody else. I don’t have to be behind this year, I can pick my schedule, and this is kind of my first season as a pro I can play in every event.”
Hall grew up in Cornwall, England, frequently playing at West Cornwall Golf Club. The course’s website proudly calls itself the home of “Long” Jim Barnes, a four-time major championship winner and World Golf Hall of Fame inductee, Philip Rowe, who famously played in the 1999 Walker Cup and enjoyed a successful collegiate career at Stanford University, and Harry Hall.
Rowe eventually became a coach and worked as an assistant at University of Nevada-Las Vegas. One of his top recruits? Harry Hall, of course. Hall went on to become the 2019 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year and, just like Rowe, a Walker Cup team member.
“When you walk in the West Cornwall Golf Club, you’ve got all the memorabilia on the wall,” Hall said. “Jim Barnes is in there. Phil Rowe, when I was growing up, was the guy who was doing great things and did great things as an amateur. I grew up with his Walker Cup bag in the clubhouse. I tried to tick everything off his resume that he achieved. Jim Barnes, hopefully I can reach what he achieved, winning three majors.
“I’d love to get West Cornwall the green jacket and put a Ryder Cup bag in the clubhouse along with my Walker Cup one.”