Werenski scores 15 to take lead at Barracuda
RENO — If Richy Werenski is feeling the pressure of needing a couple of good performances to get exempt status on the PGA Tour next season, he’s doing a good job of hiding it.
Werenski drained a 16-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th to score five points and take the lead after 36 holes at the 19th annual Barracuda Championship on Friday at Montreux Golf & Country Club.
Werenski, who scored a round-best 15 points on Friday, leads Stuart Appleby (14-10) by two shots, and Luke List (11-12), Greg Owen (9-14), Ben Martin (13-10) and Dicky Pride (13-10) by three shots.
Derek Fathauer is solo in seventh at 21 (7-14), and Rick Lamb (13-7) , Joel Dahmen (10-10), Tyrone Van Aswegen (11-9), and Tom Hoge (11-9) are all tied for eighth at 20 points.
Werenski, who is ranked 154th in the FedEx Cup standings, was happy with the way he finished and his game in general.
“The finish was good,” he said. “I’ve been telling myself, everybody knows eagles are huge out here this week, and (Thursday) I struggled on the par-5s off the tee box.
“I told my caddie we’ve got one goal today and the rest of the week to hit every fairway on the par-5s and try to give ourselves a chance (for eagle).
“I hit a good 6-iron in there and made a good putt. I putted really well today, so I’m happy.”
Werenski recorded six birdies (Nos. 3, 6, 8, 13, 14 and 16) in addition to the eagle on No. 18. He bogeyed Nos. 4 and 17.
The youngster knows there is a long way to go.
“I mean, obviously it’s only Friday,” he said. “I’m just going to take confidence away from this. I know I’m playing good. (My) game feels solid, and honestly I feel like it can be a lot better. I putted really good today, but if I can strike it just a little better this weekend, I think I’ve got no problem.”
Appleby took advantage of the soft greens Friday morning and recorded six birdies and two bogeys.
He could have easily had eight birdies, but he missed birdie attempts of around 10 feet on Nos. 10 and 11.
Through his first 36 holes, Appleby has recorded 14 birdies, including six on Friday.
“Very different golf course than the afternoon (yesterday),” Appleby said. “I mean, I was first group out in the afternoon (on Thursday), so we saw yesterday the course drying out, mostly in the greens. They got quite bouncy, which was a little surprising, being that the practice rounds were quite soft.
“This morning they were back to that. They were soft again. So I can see there’s certainly two sides of the coin here with the course in its condition. You can’t hit it nearly as far in the morning off the tee, but then you sort of gain that back through having softer greens that are more receptive, so if your distance is good, you can stick it in close.”
And, he did exactly that. Starting on the back side, Appleby had birdie putts of 7, 9 and 7 feet. On the front nine, he had a 15-footer on No. 2 and 9-footers on Nos. 6 and 9.
“I’m starting to make some birdies, and I’m rolling it nice,” he said. “I’m reading it nice. I’ve just got to see if I can keep the ball in the middle of the club face and grab the right clubs often enough and see if I can grab 20 points or something over the weekend.”
The last cut he made came at John Deere when he recorded his only top-25 finish of the season with an 11-under 273. He made the second-round cut at Barbasol, but not the 54-hole cut.
Those two performances, however, gave him a little momentum going into this event.
“That’s the thing I’ve found hard is being able to repeat; a couple of good shots or a couple of good holes and then I throw in an awful shot, so that kind of knocks a lot of wind out of your sails,” Appleby said. “I was starting to roll the ball better, so I started making birdies. I was struggling to make a couple birdies a round on average and missing cuts.”
Appleby is looking for his first win since the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.
Owen had his best Montreux finish a year ago, and he obviously likes where he’s at right now.
The veteran rolled in right birdie putts ranging from 1 to 20-feet. Only three of the birdie putts were outside 10 feet.
“The only dropped shots I’ve had really have been three-putts because it’s difficult with us being on the side of a mountain, it’s very deceiving with your eyes whether you’re uphill, downhill,” he said. “The speeds are very difficult to judge. Holed some nice putts today. It’s been a long time since that’s happened.
“I’m just reading the greens better. I’m not finding them easy, but I’m actually doing a better job and hitting my lines. I’m not putting any pressure on myself now. I’m just trying to play well and see what happens.”
List is on a nice roll. He was minus-3 through nine holes, but scored 26 points in his last 27 holes to get himself in contention.
“I chose to play this event because I like the area, and it’s always fun trying to make a lot of birdies and some eagles,” he said.
“I got off to a really bad start, and I kind of told my caddie, let’s play aggressive from here on out, and whatever happens, happens.
“Now I’m in a really nice position. I just kind of winged it for the rest of the 27 holes there, and I was fortunate to make some birdies.”
List said he won’t change anything heading into today’s third round.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m going to try to play aggressive the whole way through; hit a lot of drivers where a lot of guys are hitting irons, and I’m just going to try to take advantage of my length on a few holes.
“For me it’s tough doing some of the numbers with the math and everything with the elevation, but just trying to do the best I can with that, stay patient, and just try to be aggressive on the weekend.”