Three share lead after two rounds in Columbus

Martin/Getty Images
Rickie Fowler's second-round 66 has kept him at the top of the leaderboard in Columbus.
July 31, 2009
Joe Chemycz, PGA TOUR Staff

COLUMBUS, Ohio. -- Over the years, OSU has enjoyed great success at the OSU Golf Club and the first two days of the Nationwide Children's Hospital Invitational are showing potential signs of history repeating itself.


OSU, as in Oklahoma State University, has had success at the OSU Golf Club, as in Ohio State University Golf Club.

Several Cowboys from west of the Mississippi have moved to the top of the leaderboard in this week's Nationwide Tour event being held at the famed Scarlet Course, which is about three miles from the Buckeye campus.

Rickie Fowler, one of eight NCAA First-Team All-Americans given sponsor exemptions into the $775,000 tournament, grabbed a share of the 36-hole lead with a 5-under-par 66. Fowler, who just finished his sophomore year in Stillwater, is at 7-under 135 and tied with veteran Joe Daley (67) and Texan Dave Schultz (68).

Much of the field has taken advantage of the benign conditions which were the result of nearly an inch of rain the past two days in central Ohio. Lift, clean and place rules were in effect during the second round and produced a scoring average of 71.618, the lowest single-round average in the tournament's three-year history.

Fowler figures he's played at least 10 rounds on the host course, thanks to some U.S. Open qualifying and NCAA Regional tournaments along with last year's Invitational, where he finished T40.

"I've seen it in all kinds of conditions," said Fowler, sounding more like a veteran than a 20-year old amateur. "I've been here quite a bit."

So have the OSU Cowboys, who won NCAA team titles at this site in 1980, 1987 and 1995. That last championship team featured Chris Tidland, who has carded consecutive 68s to share fourth place, one stroke back, with Australia's Gavin Coles (68) and Norway's Henrik Bjornstad (69).

Tidland and company won the title when they beat Stanford University and their heralded freshman phenom Tiger Woods, in a playoff.

"There are some great memories here," said Tidland, who says he never tires of retelling the story.

New Zealand's Phil Tataurangi (70), Michigan's Tom Gillis (68) and Scott Parel (70) of Georgia are two shots back of the co-leaders heading into the weekend.

Joining them will be Morgan Hoffman, yet another Oklahoma State standout and this past year's recipient of the Phil Mickelson Award as the most outstanding freshman in Division I men's golf. Hoffman finished double-bogey/bogey for a round of 69 that dropped him back to 3-under 139 and into a tie for 12th.

"They have an unbelievable golf program, there's no doubt," said Schultz, one of five Texas Christian University players on Tour this year. "They just keep producing great golfers."

Tidland still lives in Stillwater and counts Fowler among his closest friends and regular playing partners at home.

"He's a great player, hits it terrific, great iron player, and on this course you've got to hit good iron shots," said Tidland. "He's probably the most confident person I've ever been around. He's a great kid, but he's also very confident in what he's doing and I like that. I like being around him. I think it's helped my career and it's pushed me to practice harder and gotten me more hungry."

Fowler, who still has the U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup on his summer schedule, will be in the final group Saturday with the 48-year old Daley, who quit his job as a credit manager at the age of 32 to pursue a career in professional golf.

"I had an 80-hour-a-week job back then," said Daley, who was a walk-on during his days at Old Dominion University. "At that time I didn't have any money. I was right out college and I got a job. It's something I wanted to do, I just hadn't figured out how to do it."

Daley has things figured out this week thanks to a recent change in his equipment. The last time he went home to Scottsdale, Ariz., he took a torch to some old clubs and pulled out the shafts from an old set of irons.

"It's a lighter shaft and it has a little bit more feel to it for me," he said. "I started swinging the other club so hard that it was affecting my rhythm with my whole game. I swing with a little better tempo and I can control my irons much better, meaning I'm closer to the pin more often."

All three of the co-leaders have been pretty close to the pins so far. Daley and Schultz are tied for second in total putts with 54 while Fowler, who needed 30 for his second-day 66, has only 55.

Schultz had a shot at sole possession of the lead late in the afternoon but missed his birdie try from 15 feet on his final hole, the 427-yard, 9th.

"I kind of pulled my gap wedge a little bit coming in there and put it above the hole, so I kind of guaranteed myself that I would get it to the hole," said Schultz, who needed a testy three-foot comeback putt for par and his share of the lead. "It would have been nice to go in but par at the last hole is not bad to cap off the day."


Second-Round Notes:

Rich Barcelo, winner of last week's Cox Classic in Omaha, Neb., has posted scores of 69-71?140 (-2)

• 23 of the top 25 on the money list were entered this week but the top three won't be around for the weekend. Leading money winner Michael Sim (74-72) missed the cut for only the second time in 11 starts this year. Number 2 Kevin Johnson (76-75) missed the cut in his fifth consecutive start since winning his second title of the season at the Knoxville Open in mid-June. Roger Tambellini, No. 3, shot scores of 74-73 and missed the cut for the second week in a row since winning the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic.

• A total of 66 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at even-par 142. The cut 2007, the tournament's first year, was 4-over and the cut was 3-over last year.

Player School Score Position
Rickie Fowler Oklahoma State 69-66--135 (-7) T1
Matthew Giles Southern California 71-72--143 (+1) m/c
Morgan Hoffmann Oklahoma State 70-69--139 (-3) T12
Billy Horschel* Florida 72-73--145 (+3) m/c
Kyle Stanley* Clemson 73-69--142 (E) T48
Nick Taylor Washington 69-71--140 (-2) T19
Cameron Tringale Georgia Tech 72-73--145 (+3) m/c
Mike Van Sickle Marquette 73-70--143 (+1) m/c
* has already turned professional

• Here is how the list of All-America exemptions are doing this week:

• Also making the cut was amateur Bo Hoag, a junior-to-be at Ohio State University. Hoag made the cut on the number when he rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for a round of 72 and a 142 total.