Becker jumps up to take Second Round lead in Korn Ferry Tour Qualifier at Dayton Valley
DAYTON — The wind blew from the opposite direction and temperatures dropped in the second round of Stage One Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying at Dayton Valley Golf Club. And players felt the effect as scores rose higher than in the first round and the veteran players in the field took advantage.
Rafael Becker, Dallas, Tex. playing in his fifth Q-school fired a 7-under 65 and Eddie Olson, Aptos, Calif. carded a 3-under 69 playing in his seventh Dayton Q-school to share the 36-hole lead at 8-under 136. Fredrik Nilehn, Lubbock, Tex. shot 3-under 69 for solo third at 7-under 137.
Robert Bell, Pierz, Minn. in his fifth Dayton Q-school and Patrick Grimes, Menlo Park, Calif. both shot 2-under 70 and are tied for fourth at 6-under 138.
With a 2-over 74, Reno’s Trent Virden slipped eight places into a seven-way tie for 11th at 3-under 141. The McQueen High grad is still well positioned to advance if he can maintain his current position with steady play.
Only 24 players in the field were under par in the cold and windy scoring conditions that favored the players with late tee times. There were an additional four players at even par and the total scoring average for the entire field went up over one stroke to 73.42 compared to 72.11 in the first round.
Becker, a 28-year old native of Brazil who played collegiality at Wichita State, moved up 17 places on the leaderboard following an opening round 71. He credits the experience he has gained through playing the qualifying process for helping him cope with the difficult conditions even though this is the first time he has played at Dayton Valley.
“It’s all part of the deal you go through and I’ve learned a lot,” he said about making it to last year’s Q-school finals and playing in eight tournaments on the 2019 Korn Ferry Tour. “The experiences have totally helped me learn to deal with whatever comes up out here.
“I putted very, very well today after switching putters (from the first round),” he explained. “I made a 30-foot bomb on No. 8 that gave me confidence and got me on a roll after I made two dumb birdies.”
Olson, a 32-year old former UNLV golfer, was happy he was just able to play the second round.
“I woke up at 2:30 this morning and couldn’t move my neck and shoulder,” he said. “I have a chronic bad neck from a car accident a long time ago and it stiffens up if I sleep on it wrong or twist it funny. So I stretched as much as I could all the way up to tee time.
“I’m pleased with the round given I didn’t even know if I could play,” Olson continued. “It was tough out there because the wind changed directions and made the hard holes play more difficult.
“For example, on No 9 yesterday I hit 3-iron, 9-iron downwind and today I hit driver 6-iron into the wind,” he said about the difficult 450-yard par 4 that plays as the toughest hole every year. “But I know this course and where to miss and I’m playing my best ever coming into Q-school, so I’ll be fine the next two days.”
Virden had a simple explanation why his score was seven strokes higher in the second round.
“I didn’t hit the ball well at all today, I hit half as many greens in regulation and I didn’t putt very well,” he said. “The different wind made putting more difficult. I’ll need to get back to form the next two days.”
Former Nevada Wolf Pack golfer Kaleb Gorbahn, Smithers, BC, Can. soared to a 6-over 78 dropping 21 places into a three-way tie for 51st at 6-over 150. That position would be seven strokes above the qualifying number if the tournament ended after two rounds.
The 20 low scores and ties after Friday’s final round of the 72-hole tournament will advance to Second Stage Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying at five sites in November. Players advancing to the second stage will play to make the Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School Final where they will vie for a spot on the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour.
For complete results and individual player scorecards visit the web link: https://pgatq.bluegolf.com/bluegolf/pgatq19/event/pgatq1910/contest/1/leaderboard.htm