Fritsch, Henley tied for lead in Chiquita Classic

September 28, 2012
Phil Stambaugh, Staff

WEDDINGTON, N.C. -- Even after winning the Stadion Classic at UGA last year as an amateur, Russell Henley has spent the better part of the 2012 Tour season still learning about himself. The University of Georgia alum took another step forward today at the Jack Nicklaus-designed The Club at Longview just south of downtown Charlotte and is tied with Canada's Brad Fritsch after 36 holes at the Chiquita Classic.


After shooting a 6-under-par 66 in the morning wave yesterday, Henley went one better in his second round and stands at 13-under through two rounds. By his own admission, the 23-year-old St. Simons Island, Ga. resident who is 35th on the current Tour earnings list enjoys doing everything fast and he got off to a quick start on Friday, making birdies on three of his first four holes. He then birdied four of his last seven holes for a 7-under 65, however, the key to Henley's round might have been his 40-foot bogey save at No. 11 after a poor drive.

"It was nice to get some birdies early and I didn't press the whole day. I just stuck to hitting my shots at my targets and let it happen," Henley said. "I think the 40-foot bogey save at No. 11 really kept the round going. I'm learning to deal with things better than I have in the past even though you are never completely comfortable out here. I know how to deal with being in contention but I'm also still learning."

Fritsch, currently No. 27 on the money list, finished T2 three weeks ago at the Mylan Classic after being the 36-hole leader in the Pittsburgh event. His 8-under 64 on Friday matched the low round of the day and included his third eagle of the week at the par-5 17th. Fritsch also made seven birdies today and closed out his round with a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 9.

"Three eagles in two days, that doesn't happen very often to anyone. I've got to consider myself a little bit fortunate in that way. It's a course where you can really get it going, especially on the par-4s. In my practice rounds, I thought the par-5s were really going to play hard this week, but I'm 10-under on them for two days. I'll just see if I can keep it going. If you can put the ball in play off the tee, it really allows you to attack these par-4s because the greens are receptive and in great shape," Fritsch said.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen is tied for third place with Chiquita Classic defending champion Russell Knox, two strokes off the lead. After the first 36 holes this week, the 48-year-old Janzen has managed to avoid the pitfalls that have troubled him on the course recently.

After playing just over one hole this morning to finish up a first-round 6-under 66, Janzen had a 30-minute break and then went out and made six birdies, including two on the last two holes for a 67. He two putted from the left fringe for birdie on the par-5 17th and then closed out his round by holing a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 18.

"I haven't really changed my strategy. I just really want to get into trying to play one shot at a time. Part of the journey of trying to make it fun out here is trying to fine tune and figure out exactly why you do it on one shot and you don't do it on another. So far for two days, I've done it better this week. I want to figure out what I'm doing right, practice that part, and keep doing it, " Janzen said. "The last three weeks were extremely frustrating. I didn't play poorly, just my misses were very penalizing. You want to avoid penalty shots and my misses were two-stroke penalty shots, not just one. In Knoxville, at some point on Friday I was leading the tournament and I had 10 penalty shots after that for the rest of the tournament and finished way back. That alone kept me out of the top five."

Knox has made just one bogey through two rounds and carded seven birdies today with only one of them coming on a par-5 (No. 4).

For the first time in the 23-year history of the Tour, this year's Chiquita Classic is being played in the Charlotte area after a two-year run in the Cincinnati market. Next year's Chiquita Classic will be part of the Tour finals, a four-event series that will identify and finalize the 50 players who earn 2013-14 PGA TOUR playing privileges, beginning in 2013.

Second-Round Notes

* Friday weather: Partly cloudy in the afternoon with highs in the mid-80s and winds from the WSW at 5-10 mph.There was a brief shower late in the round but no delay.

* A total of exactly 60 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 4-under-par 140. Last year when the tournament was played at the TPC River's Bend near Cincinnati, 68 players made the two-day cut of 4-under-par 140. A total of 60 players made the 36-hole cut earlier this year at The Rex Hospital Open near Raleigh.

* 36-hole leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win just four of the first 22 tournaments on the 2012 Tour.The last to do so was Luke List at the South Georgia Classic in late April.

* 20 of the top-25 money-winners were entered this week, but only nine advanced to the weekend. Among those missing the cut at The Club at Longview were #4 Ben Kohles, #5 Paul Haley II, #8 Cameron Percy, #9 James Hahn, #13 Darron Stiles, #16 Brian Stuard, #17 Jim Herman, #18 Hudson Swafford, #20 Paul Claxton, #24 Camilo Benedetti and #25 David Lingmerth. The five players among The 25 who were not in Charlotte this week were

Luke Guthrie (#1), Luke List (#2), Andres Gonzales (#7), Scott Gardiner (#12) and Shawn Stefani (#14).

* 48-year-old Marco Dawson, a veteran of both the PGA TOUR and Tour, equaled Fritsch's score as the best second round today. After posting 71 in Round 1, Dawson's 64 jumped him up 70 spots into a T6, the biggest move on Friday by a player in the field. It was Dawson's best round on the Tour since shooting 64 in Round 2 of the 2011 BMW Charity Pro-Am last May.

* Through 36 holes, the 247-yard, par-3 3rd hole has been the hardest (3.288), yielding just 26 birdies. The par-5 544-yard 4th hole has been the easiest (4.576), giving up nine eagles and 151 birdies.

* Jim Renner, currently 46th on the 2012 Tour money list, was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard. After his second round, Renner discovered that he had signed for a 4 instead of a 5 at the par-5 4th hole and immediately told officials of his mistake. If he would have signed a correct scorecard, Renner would have been at 4-under through 36 holes.

* Roger Tambellini withdrew prior to the start of his second round with a shoulder injury. Tambellini posted a 1-under 71 yesterday.