Flores on top by two after two rounds in Knoxville

August 24, 2012
Royce Thompson, Staff

FARRAGUT, Tenn. -- Erik Flores got off to a nice start making birdie on his first hole of the day the par-5 10th. Flores would go on to make five more birdies en route to a six-under 66 at Fox Den Country Club. His bogey-free round puts him at 11-under par, 131, good enough for a two-stroke lead after two rounds at the News Sentinel Open presented by Pilot.

Mathias Gronberg, Hudson Swafford and Darron Stiles share second place at nine-under 133 after 36 holes.

Seven players are at eight-under, 134, three-shots back. Players in this group include: James Sacheck, Shane Bertsch, Adam Hadwin, Kevin Foley, Neal Lancaster, Patrick Sheehan and Will MacKenzie.

First round leader Casey Wittenberg struggled on day two shooting a one-over 72 and falling in to a tie for seventh.

Flores put a premium on getting the ball in play off the tee hitting 11 fairways in his second round. The California native believes that once you're in the fairway it's time to be aggressive.

"To me driving accuracy has been the key this week and my irons are on," the 25-year-old explained. "I was in a really good position off all the tees. So with wedges in your hand you pretty much fire at every flag."

The Web.com Tour rookie missed the cut in his last start at the Midwest Classic. While no player likes missing the cut, Flores put a positive spin on the situation and believes that his game is going to come together as a result of it.

"Missing the cut last week was really good from the standpoint that it allowed me to take a couple of days off," Flores revealed. "And I just know it's going to click, the ball striking and the putting have not come on at the same time. Those aspects of my game are strong; it's just that when they are going together they are a lot better."

Flores was a part of a University of California, Los Angeles golf team that won the national championship in 2008. With success like that at the collegiate level and making the cut in his first five starts on the Web.com Tour this year, the second-year pro seemed to be headed in the right direction. He would go on to miss nine cuts and realize that there is a bit of an adjustment period between the two life styles.

"The travel is intense, not being with loved ones and learning a different golf course each week because every course is pretty much new," he commented. "Also it's quite an adjustment, playing so many days of golf in a row."

It appears the second-year-pro has made the appropriate adjustments and is growing into in his new surroundings as the year progresses.

"I have dreamed of playing with these guys and I have gotten a lot more comfortable as the year goes on," Flores said with a smile. "And it's been fun beating them this week."

With a two shot lead heading into round three it's very easy to get distracted by everything that is happening on and around the golf course. Flores believes that he must focus on his own game to continue his success.

"I'm not really a big leaderboard watcher," the California resident noted. "I think when you're playing well you just kind of zone out from the scores. I'm not going to watching tomorrow, I will just be playing hard."

Second-Round Notes

• Brad Adamonis withdrew after four holes with a back injury.

• The cut came at 139 (-3) with 75 players making it into the weekend.

• Of those chasing no one seemed more relaxed on day two than Hudson Swafford. The Stadion Classic winner fired a 5-under 66 and is currently in a tie for second.

The Web.com Tour rookie currently sits at 13th on the money list, but knows there is still time to improve on that number.

"My goal is to at least be in the top six on the money list, Swafford admitted. "Of course everyone wants to be in that number one spot for next year, but 13 is not where I want to be. So, I have a lot of work to do."

With two rounds left, Swafford and many others know that they have their work cut out for them if they want to win this tournament.

• Six of the top-10 Web.com Tour money winners are in the field this week. The following players made the cut: Casey Wittenberg (No. 2) Lee Williams (No. 7)

• Two past champions are in the field this week:

Player Rd1 Rd2 Pos
Garrett Willis 69 72 CUT
Phillip Pettit Jr. 71 68 T59
Wes Roach 68 69 T34
Doug Barron 71 73 CUT
Casey Wittenberg 63 72 T12
Chase Carroll 73 74 CUT
Luke List 72 70 CUT
Scott Moran 70 75 CUT
Audie Johnson 75 73 CUT

• There are nine players with ties to Tennessee in the field this week:

• Players who were bogey-free in the second round:

65- James Sacheck, Erik Flores 66- Hudson Swafford, Kent Jones, Ben Martin, Neal Lancaster, Brain Stuard, Kent Jones 67- Camilo Benedetti 68- Russell Knox, Guy Boros 69- Michael Putnam, Edward Loar

Fox Den CC
Round Front 9 (35) Back 9 (36) Total (71)
R1 35.346 34.865 70.212
R2 34.948 35.252 70.200

• Scoring averages for the week:

• The next stop on the Web.com Tour is the Mylan Classic at Southpointe Golf Club in Canonsburg, Pa., August 27 -- September 2.