Three share halfway lead at Hotel Fitness Championship

August 30, 2013

By Joe Chemycz, Tour staff

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Trevor Immelman has a Green Jacket from winning the Masters, Michael Putnam has a gold bib for being No. 1 on the Tour’s Regular Season money list and 21-year-old Patrick Cantlay has a pain in his back. Somehow the three have found their way to the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the inaugural Hotel Fitness Championship, the first of four events in the new Tour Finals.

Immelman posted a bogey-free, 6-under 66 early Friday at Sycamore Hills Golf Club and posted his 11-under 133 total for the clubhouse lead. Later in the day, Putnam busted Scott McCarron’s one-day old course record 64 with a 9-under 63 that featured an opening-nine hole score of 29. Cantlay, who has been suffering through lower back problems for the past couple of months, birdied four of his final five holes for a 65 and share of the lead.

Arron Oberholser (68), Scott Harrington (69) and Bud Cauley (69) are tied at 10-under, one off the pace.

Troy Matteson (70) is two shots back and alone in seventh place. Will Claxton (69), Scott Gardiner (67) and Len Mattiace (69) are at 8-under and round out the top 10.

The Finals feature a blend of Tour and PGA TOUR players vying for 50 PGA TOUR cards and positioning for the upcoming season that starts in October.

“You’ve got to put your foot on the gas,” said Immelman, winner of the Masters in 2008. “Over the last few years, golfers have gotten so good all over the world, on every Tour. Gone are the days of shooting even-par on the last day and winning, even at the majors. Guys are not afraid to go low.”

Immelman had a bundle of chances Friday after hitting 16 greens in regulation but his 31 putts kept him from gaining some distance on the field.

“The key is keeping momentum going and making as many birdies as possible,” he said. “I love the look of the golf course.”

Putnam, it seems, loves the look of every golf course he’s seen this year. The former Pepperdine star has locked up full-exempt status on the PGA TOUR for the 2013-14 season.

“Starting the second round I was battling to make the cut and now I’m in the lead,” said Putnam, who opened with a 2-under 70 that put him tied for 53rd. “There are 180,000 reasons to win this week.”

Putnam charged out of the gate, canning a series of 15-20 foot putts for a birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie start. He was 6-under after 6 holes and turned the nine in 7-under par.

“That’s the best start I ever had, especially on those holes. They’re not easy,” said Putnam, who quickly dispelled thoughts of a possible 59. “I was thinking to myself walking to the 10th hole, I still have to shoot 30 on this nine and that was too much to ask. I really didn’t think about it the rest of the way.”

With the pressure of trying to earn a PGA TOUR card, Cantlay has the added worry of dealing with an ailing back.

“It actually feels best on the course,” he said. “I’m aware of it. I try to swing like I’m not hurt and deal with whatever pain there is. There’s pain on every shot. It’s kind of like out of sight, out of mind. I try not to think about it.”

Second-Round Notes:

-- Weather – Mostly sunny. Overnight low of 66. Daytime high of 87. Wind SW 5-10mph.

-- A total of 71 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at ­­­­3-under 141.

-- Saturday play will be in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees starting at 8:00 a.m. Play is expected to finish at 3:00 p.m. ET.

-- Matt Bettencourt withdrew during the second round due to a back injury. Bettencourt finished No. 16 on the Tour’s Regular Season money list after closing the year with consecutive runner-up finishes at the News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot and the Cox Classic presented by Lexus of Omaha.

-- Brett Stegmaier withdrew during the second round due to a wrist injury.

-- Doug LaBelle registered the first ace in tournament history when he made a hole-in-one at the par-3, 4th hole. LeBelle used a 5-iron from 194 yards for his ace. He shot a 2-under-par 70 but missed the cut.

-- Trevor Immelman made the cut in 12 of 24 starts on the PGA TOUR this year. His only top-10 finish was a T9 at the RBC Heritage. He finished No. 143 on the FedExCup points list.

-- Immelman has held/shared the 36-hole lead only once before in his PGA TOUR career – the 2008 Masters tournament. He posted scores of 68-68 (-8) and led by one at Augusta after two days. He went on to shoot 69-75 and win by three strokes.

-- Immelman has two career wins on the PGA TOUR – 2006 Cialis Western Open, 2008 Masters Tournament.

-- This is Immelman’s second career start on the Tour. He was an amateur when he received a sponsor exemption into the 1999 Shreveport Open where he posted scores of 74-72-71-70—287 (-1) and tied for ninth.

-- Arron Oberholser missed the cut in his only two PGA TOUR starts this year – Northern Trust Open, Shell Houston Open. He also missed the cut in two starts in 2012. Oberholser last played regularly on Tour in 2007 and made just 10 starts in 2008 and only four in 2009.

-- This is the first time Oberholser has made the 36-hole cut on any Tour since the 2009 Open (T33).

-- This is the first time Oberholser has advanced to the weekend on the Tour since the season-ending Tour Championship in 2002.

-- Oberholser is a two-time winner on the Tour – 2002 Samsung Canadian PGA Championship, 2002 Utah Championship. His only win on the PGA TOUR came at the 2006 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

-- Michael Putnam, the leading money winner on the Tour’s Regular Season, posted seven top-10 finishes in his first 13 starts but has only one (T3, Albertsons Boise Open) in his last six starts.

-- Putnam is a two-time winner on Tour this year – Mexico Championship and Mid-Atlantic Championship – in back-to-back weeks.

-- Putnam made the cut in 15 of his 19 starts on Tour this year. In addition to his two wins, he also tied for second at the South Georgia Open and tied for third at the Albertsons Boise Open.

-- Rookie Patrick Cantlay made only eight starts on Tour this year. The former UCLA All-America suffered through back problems the second half of the year. He earned his first career win at the Colombia Championship in Bogota in early March but did not have another top-25 finish the rest of the way. He was No. 25 on the money list heading into last week’s Cox Classic in Omaha but missed the cut and wound up falling four spots to No. 29.

-- Scott Harrington made the cut in 11 of 19 starts on the Tour this year and had a pair of top-10 finishes – T6/Chile Classic and T6/Midwest Classic. He missed the cut at last week’s Cox Classic presented by Lexus of Omaha and dropped three spots on the money list, from No. 69 to No. 72.

-- Jhonattan Vegas posted a 1-over 73 on Friday and advanced to the weekend with a 4-under 140 total. This is his first start since he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in early February. Vegas has been on the shelf after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder for a torn ligament.

-- Twenty-three of the top-25 money winners on the Tour were entered this week and 13 made the cut. Among those missing the cut were: No. 5 Kevin Tway, No. 6 Bronson La’Cassie, No. 8 Mark Anderson, No. 9 Alex Aragon, No. 17 Jim Renner, No. 22 Miguel Carballo, No. 24 Kevin Foley and No. 25 Andy Svoboda.

-- Bogey-free rounds:

R1 – Troy Matteson (65), Arron Oberholser (66), Roland Thatcher (67)
R2 – Michael Putnam (63), Trevor Immelman (66), Glen Day (66), David Mathis (67), Bill Lunde (68), Peter Malnati (68), Bhavik Patel (66).

-- Course statistics for the week:
Front (36) Back (36) Total (72)
R1 35.271 35.395 70.667
R2 35.252 35.535 70.535

-- The Tour Finals continue next week with the Chiquita Classic at River Run Country Club in Davidson, N.C.