Hearn remains in familiar spot -- atop the leaderboard

Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
Canadian David Hearn continues to lead after two rounds of the South Georgia Classic.
April 23, 2010
PGA TOUR staff

VALDSOTA, Ga. -- David Hearn isn't paying attention to results these days. The 30-year old Canadian is all about the process. The change of mental direction has Hearn playing his best golf in years. Hearn has posted rounds of 64-69 and stands atop the leaderboard after two rounds of the South Georgia Classic.


Hearn's 11-under 133 total is a tournament record and two strokes better than 24-year old Jason Kokrak (67) and four better than Tag Ridings (69) and Michael Putnam (68).

Australia's Ewan Porter (71) and Jhonattan Vegas (66) from Venezuela share fifth place, five behind the leader.

Hearn's mantra this year has been to hit lots of fairways and greens and try to make birdies instead of concentrating on the numbers and where he stood in the field. The results are taking care of themselves.

Hearn held the second- and third-round leads at last week's Fresh Express Classic in California, where he was runner-up by a single stroke to winner Kevin Chappell. He's made five straight cuts and is No. 10 on the current money list.

Hearn opened up with a course record-tying 64 on Thursday and led by three. Four birdies, including one from 40 feet on the final hole gave him the lead for another day.

"It's been a while since I've been in contention and to be in contention as much as I have the last two weeks, I've really enjoyed it," said Hearn, whose only career win came at the2004 Alberta Classic. "I think it takes a little getting used to, especially when you first turn pro. The nerves never go away. I think they're always there, it's just a matter of learning to deal with them and perform under pressure."

Hearn's confidence level has never been higher and a win this week might put him very close to a return trip to the PGA TOUR next year.

"When you get in the lead you learn your tendencies and most guys get a little quick," said Hearn, who sometimes has to pull his foot off the accelerator. "Over the years, I've worked on it. When I have a shot that I need to hit, or a putt, I just slow myself down consciously a little bit so I'm at the same pace I would be normally. A few deep breaths when you're walking, they always help."

So does hitting the ball into the next county, which is what the big-hitting Kokrak is doing. The former standout from Xavier University has been busting drives all over the Kinderlou Forest Golf Club and is cutting the 7,781-yard layout down to size.

"I'm not overpowering this golf course," said Kokrak, who is smashing his drives in the 300-yard-plus range. "I just know how far I can fly my driver and there are certain bunkers, depending on the tee box, that I know I can fly and that takes all the trouble out of play."

Hitting the ball over bunkers also reduces the distance Kokrak has into the greens. For example -- Kokrak (pronounced COKE-rack), has hit a 9-iron and a pitching wedge for his second shot at the 484-yard, slightly uphill, par-4, 18th hole the first two days. In contrast, Aussie Andrew Buckle, who is No. 7 in average driving distance this year (305.0 yards) has hit 6-iron into the same green.

"There are more and more guys who just hit the ball so far," said Buckle, who missed the cut after a 76 today. "There isn't just one guy, like a Bubba Watson, who hits it that far. A lot of guys can hit it that far. It's amazing."

Count Kokrak among the new wave of big-hitters who have a well-rounded game and are looking for new worlds to conquer. The Ohio native is making only his second career start, which he earned after winning a mini-tour event in Concord, NC, a few weeks ago.

"I'd like to play my way on to the Nationwide Tour this year and hopefully get full status for next year," said the two-time, Atlantic-10 Conference champion. "Making it to the PGA TOUR is obviously my goal. I'd love to get out here and play with these guys week in and week out. I think I'd become a better player."

Second-Round Notes:

* Major Manning withdrew early in the second round Friday due to illness.

* David Hearn is now 30-under par in his last six rounds on Tour. He finished second last week, shooting scores of 64-65-69-67 and has posted scores of 64-69 the first two days. His scoring average for the six rounds is 66.33.

* David Hearn has established a new 36-hole, tournament record for the second consecutive week. Hearn set the mark at last week's Fresh Express Classic and his 133 total here betters the previous low 36-hole score of 135 set by Paul Dickinson in 2007 and matched by Henrik Bjornstad and Garth Mulroy last year.

* Ryan Armour has posted scores of 70-69 and is tied for 7th place heading into the weekend. He is now 7-for-7 in cuts made this year. Armour's best finish this season is a T16 at the Panama CLARO Championship. Armour is 27 of 28 in fairways hit thus far and has hit 14 of 18 greens each of the first two days.

* Jeff Brehaut improved his score by 11 strokes from Thursday's opener. Brehaut hit 12 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens and had 26 putts en route to a 6-under 66 today. He shot a 5-over 77 yesterday. Brehaut made the cut and will be around for the weekend.

* Jhonattan Vegas vaulted up the leaderboard Friday morning with a 6-under 66. Vegas hit only 9 of 18 greens in regulation but needed only 21 putts. Vegas had 0 official putts on two holes and 1-putted 12 times.

* A total of 72 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 1-over-par 145, the third time in four years it has been on that number. The cut was 1-over par the first two years of this event and was 1-under par last year.

* Best rounds of the day: 66 -- Jeff Brehaut, Jhonattan Vegas

* Tag Ridings leads the tournament with 13 birdies.