England’s Greg Owen has a golden opportunity to claim the halfway lead in the McGladrey Classic after the earlier starters failed to increase their advantage at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia.
Bud Cauley still heads the leaderboard but he could only go round in level par yesterday after recording an opening eight-under 62, with Mansfield golfer Owen just two shots behind heading into his round.
Cauley birdied the par-five seventh to increase his lead but was back to level par for his round when he bogeyed the 14th.
Joint overnight leader Marco Dawson appears to have fallen out of contention completely and was five over for the round with just two holes remaining.
American duo Michael Thompson and Brian Gay both recorded two-under-par 68s to move into a tie for second – one shot behind Cauley – alongside compatriot Chad Campbell, who was on three under for the day after 15 holes.
Three-time major winner Vijay Singh and this year’s losing Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III are among those a stroke further back on six under overall.
After going round in level par on the opening day, Singh birdied the eighth and 15th holes as he maintained his bogey-free record this week.
The McGladrey Classic is where Cauley did well enough to secure his PGA Tour card, joining an elite list of players who went from college to a full tour card without going to Q-school.
The 22-year-old, who is chasing his first win, has already made more than $1.7 million this year, and has moved up to No 55 in the world.
“Obviously, I’ve thought about winning every tournament I’ve teed up in this year,” Cauley said. “It’s been a long year, and although I’ve played a lot this year, I haven’t won. It’s still a goal of mine, but I’m not thinking about that while I’m out there, or putting any more pressure on myself this week. The season is kind of winding down. It would be great to win here.”
Dawson is in a more desperate position. The McGladrey Classic is the penultimate PGA Tour event on the schedule that counts toward the money list, and Dawson is at No 216 with only $62,026 in 20 tournaments. The top 125 earn full cards for next year, so Dawson likely has to win to avoid a return to Q-school. His year has gone so badly that Dawson doesn’t even look at the money list.
“I’m so far away from it that the only thing I can do is just try and play well,” Dawson said. “And when I am playing well, just to keep it going instead of kind of messing it up like I have during the year.”
For so many other players, there is nothing easy about this week.
Boo Weekley doesn’t pay attention to details. Remember, this is the guy who once asked Paul Lawrie how he qualified for The Open when it returned to Carnoustie – where Lawrie made history with his wild, ten-shot comeback against Jean Van de Velde. Weekley, though, could tell you exactly where he is on the money list – No 121. He is aware that he has to play well in the last two weeks to make sure he has a full job next year, and he responded on the opening day with a 64.
Trying to lighten the mood on the course, he talked endlessly with his caddie about fishing. And it helps to be playing a coastal course, for Weekley has won twice at Hilton Head, just up the coast in South Carolina.