A first round that seemed like it would never end finally did Friday afternoon at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club.
At 12:43 p.m., the final first-round grouping of the South Georgia Classic finished on the ninth green ending a round that lasted just 29 hours and 28 minutes. The second round had already begun 88 minutes earlier as the tournament began the process of working though the backlog caused by the two rain delays that totaled more than five hours during Thursday's opening day of play.
That led to short turnarounds for half the field and lengthy breaks for the other half. For example, Max Homa, who was one of three tied for the lead following the first round at 5-under 67, had about an hour break before returning to the 10th tee to begin his second round. The other first-round leaders Carlos Ortiz and Jeff Curl, though, had quite the break between the conclusion of their opening round Thursday afternoon and evening and teeing off Friday. Ortiz teed off about 23 hours, 15 minutes after completing Round 1 and Curl began right at 23 hours later.
“It was nice to get some holes in,” said Homa, who played seven holes Thursday before play was called for the day. “I feel like the guys that got just a couple holes in kind of are in a little bit of a disadvantage. But I don't think I had an advantage or a disadvantage, it's just everybody is going to have play a big number of holes eventually.
“It was hard because I had a lot of people asking if I was even going to play, which is weird to have. But I actually played in the U.S. Open this past summer and I had the same problem. I ended up teeeing off at 5:50 (p.m.) and I think I learned quite a bit on how to bide my time. I also got lucky that the (Los Angeles) Dodgers game was on yesterday on TV, so that killed about three hours.”
With all that down time followed by all that golf Friday, the feeling among the leaders was patience paid off. With some playing close to two full rounds, mistakes were minimized as plenty of golf remained to clean up those miscues.
“For me, the biggest thing is to maintain my energy levels,” said Daniel Berger, who is in a tie for fourth place at 6-under. “Make sure I'm eating out there and just staying patient. It's a long day and you're going to make some bogeys, but if you can offset those with some birdies, then you're going to be all right.”
Added Jimmy Gunn, who also was in that group at 6-under: “You've got to be patient. There's obviously a lot of golf, you're going to be playing a lot of golf, I knew I was playing 32 holes. That's a lot of holes of golf in one day, so you've got to be patient. You're going to have some chances. You just have to minimize your mistakes. You have to hit the fairways.”
After rain drenched the course for three days, the wet weather finally stayed clear Friday. While there were light showers in the morning, it wasn't enough to measure and despite cloud cover the temperatures reached 70 in the afternoon.
That break should be a sign of things to come as today's forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with temperatures nearing 80 and clear skies expected for Sunday's finish as well.
Making a move
Garth Mulroy, the 2009 tournament winner, dug himself out of a rough start to Friday morning's completion of the first round. One-over through seven holes when play was suspended Thursday evening, Mulroy then opened play Friday with a double-bogey and a bogey on his first two holes.
From there, though, he started to put things together getting back to 2-over after the first round with birdies on Nos. 5 and 7. After starting the second round with a bogey on the first hole, Mulroy strung together birdies on three of the next five holes to get back to even and then answered a bogey on No. 7 with birdies on Nos. 9, 10 and 11 and added a final one on the 18th to get to 3-under for the tournament heading into the weekend. The 5-under was also the best score of the second round.
Also shooting 5-under for the round, at least through the 12 holes he got in before darkness set in was Ryan Blaum. Blaum, whose grandfather Gordon grew up in Valdosta, was at even-par following the first round Thursday, but he got to work early Friday with four birdies on the back nine where he began. Adding one on No. 2 moved him to 5-under.
Two-time major champion John Daly birdied his second hole Friday to move to 1-under and remained there through 12 holes when play was stopped. Lee Janzen, who twice won the U.S. Open, got a pair of birdies during his round Friday, on the par-5s on the front nine, Nos. 2 and 5. However, he followed the first with a bogey and then double bogeyes the sixth to leave him at 1-over through eight holes, and above the projected cut line.