The Barbasol Championship got off a slow start Friday and ended with play suspended following a round of thunderstorms that moved through the area. Only 41 players of the 132 in the event completed the second round, which will resume Saturday.
Troy Merritt holds a 5-stroke lead over local favorite and Morehead State graduate Josh Teater, who fired a 6-under-par 66 Friday. Teater, a graduate of Henry Clay High School, had a birdie on three of his first five holes and collected an eagle on No. 6 as part of his impressive round.
“All in all it was a good day,” Teater said. (It was) kind of low stress. When you’re hitting greens and rolling it up there for tap-ins, that’s the easiest way to play this game.”
Merritt finished the second round with a 5-under-par 67 after setting a course record with a 62 in the opening round. Despite a thunderstorm before his round, Merritt said the course “held up just fine.”
“(The course) had a slightly different wind direction,” he said. “It kept bouncing around out there, so that was probably the toughest part of the day, just trying to make sure we had the right wind direction. When we weren't quite sure, we had to play safe.
“We had a lot more lengthy birdie putts today than we did yesterday, but all this all pretty solid day.”
Merritt opened his round with two straight birdies, setting he tone for the rest of the second round.
“(I) was hitting the driver well (and the) driver got just a little bit sideways towards the middle of the round. We hit a couple less fairways,” he said. “But I hit a lot of greens again. I think I hit 14 greens, and putted on two of the ones I missed again. You know, we were just two poor three-putts and a missed 10-footer away on 11 from shooting another 64. All in all, a pretty good day of golf.”
Billy Horschel is two strokes behind Merritt after shooting a 6-under-par 66 during Friday’s round. His one mishap was a bogey on No. 15. Horschel has enjoyed playing on the course during the past two days.
“It makes it easier to learn the course when it's soft,” he said. “You can get away with shots.
But I really like this course. I think it's a really good golf course. A lot of really cool holes. The par-3s really challenging, really good par-3s out here. I've learned it quickly, which is a nice thing. (I) Just really wanted to get it done today. Didn't want to start and stop and have to come out tomorrow and finish and maybe have to go back out tomorrow and start the third round.”
Like Teater, Hunter Mahan is fore shots off the lead going into the third round.
“I feel fortunate to be where we are right now,” Mahan said. “Obviously the forecast wasn't great for the next few days and today. Feels great to get it done. The course is really — it's been through a lot seems like the last seven days or so, and it's in fantastic shape. Feels great to play the way I did. I had great control of the ball today and had a lot of great looks. Feels good to be where I am right now.”
Brittany Lincicome didn’t play the second round and will tee off at 7:52 a.m Saturday. Lincicome carded a 78 in the opening round on Thursday. The second round will have to be completed before the third round can begin.
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21.