Garrigus, Bettencort share RTO lead after 36 holes
RENO – Robert Garrigus weathered the storm -literally.
Playing in the afternoon group, he had to overcome gusts of 35 mph to shoot a 7-under-par 65 Friday afternoon and move into a share of the 36-hole lead with Matt Bettencourt at the 12th annual Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf & Country Club. The two are tied at 10-under-par 134, two shots ahead of John Mallinger (67-136) and three ahead of Bob Heintz (68-137), Bill Lunde (68-137), John Merrick (68-137) and Kevin Stadler (67-137). Chad Campbell and Chris DiMarco are another stroke back at 138.
The third round gets under way at 7 a.m. today.
Garrigus trailed co-leader Matt Bettencourt, but thanks to a fast finish and Bettencourt’s bogey-bogey finish, he has a share of the lead.
“I didn’t make any bad swings; not one bad swing all day” Garrigus said. “I had a great day. Just one of those days.
“I got on No. 2 and it started blowing 35 mph. Oh, it’s kind of like the British Open. The guys in the morning got no wind and we’re in the elements
A nice approach shot to 3 feet netted Garrigus a birdie on No. 2, and then he rolled in a 20-footer for par on No. 3. He made it three straight birdies by hitting a good bunker shot on No. 4 and getting up and down.
After saving par on Nos. 9 and 10, Garrigus birdied the par-5 11th, getting up and down from behind the green. He had a tap-in birdie at the par-4 15th and dropped in a 20-footer at No. 17.
“it’s a microcosm of how I’ve been playing for the last month and a half,” he said. “I haven’t missed a cut since Dallas.”
Bettencourt chipped in from 40 yards on No. 11 for an eagle to get to 8-under-par. Birdies at 13 and 14 enabled him to get to 10-under-par. He actually got it up to 12-under with birdies at No. 2 and No. 5. He bogeyed both eight and nine, however.
Bettencourt said a footprint in the sand trap screwed up a bunker shot on No. 8, and he three-putted on No. 9 from 23 feet to fall back into a tie.
“I had no shot,” Bettencourt said. “I’m just frustrated right now. I just need to keep playing the way I’m playing.”
Mallinger was the leader in the clubhouse until Bettencourt rolled through the course with ease for the second consecutive day.
Mallinger followed up a first-round 69 with a 5-under-par 67, which included just one bogey (on No.1, his 10th hole) and birdies on Nos. 4, 8, 11, 16 and 17. The longest birdie putt he had was on the difficult 8th hole when he drained an 11-footer.
“The morning was playing pretty easy,” Mallinger said. “There wasn’t too much wind, so the pulling of clubs wasn’t too difficult. Club selection is the biggest thing here, you know with the altitude and the wind it’s (usually) very tough. We’ve been real specific with our numbers, and I think we got it down as close as we can.”
After a slow start which saw him miss the cut 12 of his first 14 tournaments, Mallinger has started to turn the corner. He has three top-25 finishes in the last five weeks, including a tie for 13th at the Crowne Plaza Championship.
“You know, I like the summer,” said Mallinger, who makes his home in Las Vegas. “I like the heat. I enjoy the golf courses around this time. The beginning of the season is always tough. We had the equipment change and I had a new ball I was trying. I’m looking forward to playing the rest of the summer.”
Lunde, who played in the Stage 1 qualifier at Dayton a few years ago, followed up his 69 with a 4-under-par 68. He’s missed the cut four of the last five weeks, and would like nothing better than to win his first PGA event in his home state.
“Obviously I played pretty good today,” Lunde said. “I hit the ball really well. I think the hardest thing out there now is putting. We’re kind of on the side of a mountain, and it’s kind of tricky to read the putts out here taking the mountain and everything into consideration.
“For the last month, I really feel like I’ve been playing well, and it’s starting to pay off. I’m starting to put up better scores. It doesn’t really surprise me that I’m playing well now because I’ve felt like it was close for the last month or so.”
Lunde got off to a quick start with back-to-back birdies at Nos. 4 and 5. On No. 4, he put his 136-yard approach shot to 4 feet and made the putt. At No. 5, he was 49 feet short of the green with his second shot at the par-5. He chipped to 5 feet and made the putt.
Lunde got it to 3-under on the day and 6-under for the tournament with a birdie at the 439-yard sixth. He drained his longest birdie putt of the day, 26 feet. He continued his assault on No. 10, draining a 27-footer to get to 7-under. After two straight pars, he birdies the 355-yard 13th with a 16-foot birdie putt.
Lunde’s only bogey came on the 491-yard par-4 14th. He parred his final five holes.
Merrick played a solid 4-under-par round, shooting 34 on each side. He birdied Nos. 11 and 17 on the back and Nos. 3 and 4 on the front.
Merrick has two top-10 finishes here. In 2007 he was in the final group and tied for fourth and finished eighth in 2008.
“You really need to be keened in on your tee shots here, and your lines off the tee,” Merrick said. “Fortunately I’ve driven the ball well enough. I think I’ve only missed a couple of fairways this week, which is good. I think hitting the greens is important.”
Merrick wasn’t sure what it would take to win the tournament.
“It depends on the winds,” he said. “If the winds stay down, you can shoot in the 60s. The greens will get firm, but yeah I think you need to keep making birdies and keep shooting in the 60s to win the tournament.”