RENO — Greg Chalmers is trying to do what no foreign player has ever done in the past 15 years in Reno – win a PGA tournament.
The Australian-born Chalmers charged into contention at the Barracuda Championship with a 13-point day at Montreux Golf & Country Club en route to a 36-hole total of 16 points.
Chalmers, Rory Sabbatini and Jeff Overton tied for the best round of the day.
Chalmers, who shot what would have been a 64 in stroke play, is tied for 17th. If he can continue to put double digits on the board, it puts a lot of pressure on the top two or three guys.
“I played a couple of nice rounds here (in the past), but this is probably the best one I’ve played,” said the left-handed Chalmers. “If I would have birdied the last hole that would have been the absolute best. I think 8-under.
“But I hit some really nice shots there through that middle stretch; hit a lot of good iron shots, and the greens were a lot different this morning just from how the ball was rolling. That was a big difference compared to playing yesterday afternoon.”
Chalmers, who birdied five straight holes and had seven overall, seemed a little surprised at how well he played.
“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” Chalmers said. “I was up at about 2 a.m., a few things on my mind at the moment.
“I was pleased to just get into the house; pleased with the day.”
After missing a short birdie putt on the opening hole, he birdied the second thanks to a nice bunker shot to 5 feet. After stringing together four straight pars, Chalmers went birdie-birdie to finish the front with 11 points.
The birdie binge continued on Nos. 10 and 11 with birdie putts of 12 and 5 feet, respectively that got him to 15 points. After parring the 12th, he got down in two from the primary rough for a birdie at the par-5 13th to get to 17 points. He held there until sliding a par putt past the hole on No. 18.
Chalmers, who played in the first event in 1999, said the field has changed.
“It’s a lot stronger,” he said. “I read a stat the other day. I think there were something like 16 or 17 major champions playing over at Akron. There’s about 15 playing here.
“So you are getting guys that are trying to, young guys trying to forge their way into a fantastic finish to turn their career or slash year around. But you’ve got some older, experienced guys who have been playing a long time who could probably do with a boost to their career right now. So it’s a lot deeper field and it’s a lot stronger.”
Two defending champs — Matt Bettencourt (2010) and Chris Riley (2002) — were among the more notable players failing to make it to the weekend. Each finished with 5 points.
Others going home are former RTO Open host Scott McCarron and Davis Love III, both of whom had just 3 points. Stuart Appleby, who had played well in previous Reno trips, managed just 6 points.
John Daly, a fan favorite at Montreux, had a minus-15 total.
LUCAS CONTINUES TO SHINE
Former Nevada golfer Kevin Lucas, despite three bogeys on his final five holes, made the 36-hole cut at 13 points.
Lucas, who started on No. 10, bogeyed Nos. 5, 8 and 9. On No. 9, he missed a 3-footer. Not a great way to end the round.
Lucas was tied for 33rd after the first day following his 11-point performance. He had two points Friday.
“It feels good,” Lucas said when asked about making the cut in his debut. “I had a little bit higher expectations going into today. I wanted to be closer to the lead. It’s exciting. The weekend of my first PGA Tour event, it’s pretty fun.
“My family is here and they are cheering and everything. It’s about as fun as it gets.”
A top-10 finish by Lucas would get him into the Wyndham event in two weeks, and he believes it’s possible.
“You have to shoot 63, 64; put points on the board,” Lucas said. “It only takes one good round to do it.”
TWO WITHDRAW, ONE DQ
David Duval withdrew after 13 holes because of an elbow injury, according to PGA Tour officials. Duval had two birdies, three bogeys and three double bogeys before calling it quits.
Tyrone Van Aswegen withdrew prior to the round because of illness. Y.E. Yang was DQ’d for signing an incorrect scorecard.
The toughest holes of the day were the par-4 17th which played to a 4.391 and the par-3 16th which played to a 3.133.
The easiest holes were again the par-5 13th and the par-5 2nd. The 13th played to a 4.625 and the 2nd played to a 4.758.
HICKS MOVES ON
Justin Hicks is playing in his third tournament in Reno, and he has now made the cut twice. Hicks is tied for 23rd with 15 points after rounds of nine and six, respectively.