June 19, 2013

Still a hard test

Going low remains a challenge on second day of Georgia Junior Championship

Chris Whitfield

— A softer course from Tuesday’s rains might have been expected to be a boon to golfers during the second round of the Georgia Junior Championship. The scores didn’t reflect it.

Only two players in the field of 128 broke par in the Georgia State Golf Association event, leaving a select group in contention for today’s final round at The Farm Golf Club in Rocky Face. Eleven players had rounds under par on the first day — which also included a brief rain delay — but the second 18 holes proved to be a much tougher beast.

“The conditions were definitely a little tougher,” Alpharetta’s Ryan Stachler said. “The rains started, and that just made things a lot more difficult.”

Waynesboro’s Carter Mobley and Dunwoody’s Marcus Byrd finished the second round at 3-under-par 141 for the tournament and share the lead. Mobley shot a 2-under 70 on Tuesday, while Byrd had a 71.

The duo are two strokes ahead of Stachler, whose opening 68 had him sharing the first-round lead with Albany’s Tyler Hanson. Stachler shot a 3-over 75 Tuesday and is at 143 for the tournament. Hanson is in fourth place and at par after a second-round 76.

“It was tough getting the score low and the ball close to the pin near the end of the front nine because it was just pouring,” Hanson said. “Everything was getting wet, and it was tough to focus. Shots that weren’t even sticking (Monday) were spinning off the front of greens (Tuesday).”

Dalton’s Allen Behr leads the local contingent of competitors after following up Monday’s 78 with a 2-over 74 to leave him 11 strokes off the lead at 152. He’s tied with five others for 22nd place.

Rocky Face residents Ethan Hayes and Tucker Snipes joined Behr as the only three of the five players from inside Whitfield County to survive the 36-hole cut of the low 70 players plus ties. That cut fell at 19-over-par 163. Snipes bettered his first round by a stroke for a 155 (78-77) and is in a three-way tie for 36th, while Hayes had back-to-back 80s for a 160 and is tied with two others for 54th.

Dalton’s Landon Hicks (90-87) and Tyler Clayton (103-101) saw their tournaments end after the second round.

The final round begins at 8 a.m. today with the remaining 72 players.

For those at the top of the leaderboard, Tuesday’s play was about limiting damage and making up for it when it did happen.

Starting on the front nine, Mobley got off to a fiery start with birdies on three of the first four holes before the rains came. He added to that total with a birdie on the 215-yard, par-3 No. 8 hole and was at 4-under halfway through the round. He pushed that to 5-under for the round and 6-under for the tournament with a birdie on the par-3 11th. But after the rains, he had bogeys on Nos. 12, 15 and 18 to slide back to 2 under.

Byrd started on the back nine and had three bogeys that he offset with four birdies to tie for the lead.

Stachler had a much more roller coaster round than he did in the opener. He had six bogeys on Tuesday after making two on Monday. He did have three birdies, though, and he has played the par-5 12th 3 under through the opening rounds.

“I wasn’t getting my tee shots in good spots,” Stachler said. “I had to scramble around pretty good today just to hang in there. I got a birdie on my last hole that gave me some confidence going into the final round. Seeing the other scores out there makes me feel a little better about my 75.”

Hanson was feeling the same way after his 76 took him back to par.

“If you had told me when we started that I would be sitting at even on this course after two rounds, I would have been more than happy with that,” Hanson said.

Hanson had his troubles at the end of both of his nines. He bogeyed four of the final five holes on the front and finished with back-to-back bogeys on 17 and 18 after a bogey on 14 as well.

But he made up for it on the par 5s, going 1 under on those four holes, including salvaging a birdie on the 12th after going into the bunker on the left front of the green.

“I feel like I can go low tomorrow and shoot a score that will keep me right in the mix,” he said.

Griffin’s Tye Waller and Atlanta’s Will Duma are both five shots out of the lead, sitting at 2 over for the tournament to share fifth place.

• Bailey Tardy of Norcross leads heading into today’s final round of the Georgia Girls Championship after posting a 5-under-par 139 (68-71) through 36 holes on her home course at Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek.

She holds a two-stroke advantage over Rinko Mitsunaga of Roswell, who is at 3-under-par 141 (72-69).

Tardy and Mitsunaga are the only players in the field with a 36-hole score in red numbers.

The closest competitors to Tardy and Mitsunaga sit eight strokes back at 5-over-par 149, including Janet Jianing Mao of Johns Creek (75-74) and Eunice Yi of Evans (74-75).