FLOSSMOOR, ILLINOIS (Wednesday, June 18) – Daniel Wetterich retained his share of the lead on day two of the 2014 Western Junior Championship but found new company atop the leaderboard.
Dawson Armstrong, of Brentwood, Tennessee, shot a 3-under 69 to claim a piece of the lead on a day when bad weather plagued the tournament’s second round. Brief torrential rain delayed the round at 11:37 a.m., with play resuming at 1:15 p.m. Another severe thunderstorm forced Western Golf Association officials to suspended play again, this time for the day, at 7:15 p.m.
Play will resume at 7 a.m. Thursday when 26 players set to complete their second round. Following a cut to the low 70 and ties, the third round will begin at 9 a.m.
Despite the delays, plenty of compelling action took place on Wednesday.
Flossmoor Country Club was kinder in the second round, offering up 18 sub-par rounds versus two over the opening 18 holes. The co-leaders capitalized, each shooting below par to wrap up 36 holes at 2-under 142.
Dawson pointed to a nearly absent wind in explaining the better scoring conditions. Wetterich noted the more receptive putting surfaces.
“The greens were a lot softer,” Wetterich said. “You were able stop balls on the greens a lot quicker.”
Despite their success, the course has yielded only three 36-hole totals below par.
Wetterich, of Cincinnati, Ohio, started fast in Tuesday’s first round at 3-under through six holes and got off to similarly promising start on Wednesday. The Xavier commit birdied three of his first six holes but struggled thereafter with a double bogey and two bogeys over his next nine. At that point, he was 1-over on his round through 15.
“It was a little bit tougher for me today because I wasn’t hitting the ball as well as I was yesterday,” said Wetterich, who started his second round on the back nine. “But I finished strong this time.”
Indeed, Wetterich birdied two of his last four holes to finish off his second straight 1-under 71.
Armstrong put on the most entertaining performance of the day, as he threatened to run away from the field for a time.
That didn’t seem likely when Armstrong, who will be attending Lipscomb University next year, could only a muster a 1-over 73 in the better afternoon conditions on Tuesday.
But Armstrong felt his time would come during the second round.
“Yesterday, I played well but I left some shots out there,” he said. “Today I had a feeling I was going to play well. I didn’t know just how well, but today was pretty good to say the least.”
He was right. After a birdie and seven pars to start, Armstrong went on a tear in the middle of his round. The future Bison birdied Nos. 9 and 10, holed a 35-footer for another birdie on No. 13 and rounded out the scoring barrage with a curling 10-foot birdie putt on No. 15.
At that point Armstrong was 5-under for his round, 4-under for the tournament and in possession of a four-shot lead. Then, things started to unravel.
Armstrong bogeyed No. 17 and had five feet for birdie on his final hole. But his putt violently lipped out and his four-foot comebacker never touched the cup. The closing bogey meant a 69 and dropped him to 2-under.
Rather than sulking, Armstrong somehow took his four-putt on the final green as a positive circumstance.
“That kind of thing happens to everyone,” Armstrong said. “It helps me a lot more than it hurts me because it helps me to understand that I have to learn more. I found out things about where I miss it under pressure and how I putt when I’m under pressure.”
In the afternoon, KK Limbhasut, of Loma Linda, California, made it to 1-under with a second-day 69 and sits in solo third. Ian Holt, of Stow, Ohio, tied the course record with 4-under 68 and is five back at 3-over.
Phillip Barbaree, of Shreveport, Louisiana, is in solo fourth at even par. Luis Gagne, of Orlando, Florida, is alone in fifth at 1-over.
First-round co-leader Kevin Conners, of Downingtown, Pennsylvania, stumbled to a 77 and is 4-over and tied for 15th. Sam Burns, of Shreveport, Louisiana, and the highest-ranked player in the field, posted a 75 and is tied for eighth at 3-over.
All scores are updated live throughout the week and can be viewed here.