Gooch emerges as second day leader

Friday, July 3, 2009
Gavin Hall watches his fairway shot to the sixth green Thursday during the second round of the AJGA's Rolex Tournament of Champions at Dalhousie Golf Club. (Fred Lynch)

The Oklahoma golfer moves two shots out front.

Talor Gooch battled up the leaderboard to take the lead in the AJGA's Rolex Tournament of Champions at Dalhousie Golf Club.

Gooch entered Thursday's second round one stroke behind leader Michael Weaver, but quickly made up the difference.

After starting the round on No. 10, he birdied holes Nos. 12, 15 and 16 to move to 7-under 33 through his first nine holes.

"All around it was really solid," Gooch said. "I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. I got a couple putts to drop and I played pretty well all day."

ABOVE: Yaroslav Merkulov coaxes his putt on the sixth green Thursday.
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Gooch's lead could have been larger if it wasn't for a slip up on the par-5 No. 7 hole.

"I was at 8 under, but I double bogeyed on my 16th hole and I kind of slipped back a little bit," he said.

Gooch said that he didn't change anything about his game from the previous round.

"It was basically the exact same round," he said. "[Wednesday] I had six birdies and today I had six birdies. [Wednesday] I had two bogeys and today I had a bogey and a double bogey, so it was the same round."

Gooch, who verbally committed to play at Oklahoma State, credits his ability to hit the ball on the green as one of the reasons he's playing so well.

Rak Cho chips onto the 9th green Thursday during the second round of AJGA's Rolex Tournament of Champions at Dalhousie Golf Club. (Fred Lynch)

"I didn't really make many putts outside of 5 or 10 feet," he said. "I was just hitting everything really close and shot some easy putts to give myself easy opportunities to make birdies."

Gooch, who finished the day at 7 under, realizes that there's still half of the tournament left to play and isn't taking the rest of the field lightly.

"There are a lot of good players out here who have shot some good scores out here," he said.

Weaver, the leader after the first round, struggled the entire day and never was able to get it going.

His lead quickly disappeared as he double bogeyed the par-4 No. 12 hole and bogeyed 15 and 16 after starting his round at No. 10.

He carded his first birdies on Nos. 6 and 7.

"I had a couple of mistakes that cost me some shots," Weaver said. "I took some unnecessary risks that I didn't need to take, especially being in the position I started the round at. So that was a little frustrating."

He finished the day at 2-under, which was good enough for a tie for seventh.

Gavin Hall sits two strokes off the lead at 5 under, followed closely by T.J. Vogel at 4 under. Last year's Rolex runner-up, Jeffrey Kang, dropped to 14th.

"Today was pretty good," Hall said. "I started out pretty well on the back side, which was my front side today."

Hall credits his ball striking for his improved score in the second round.

"I hit the ball really well, a lot better than [Wednesday]," he said. "Hit a lot of greens and kind of just two-putted and made some pars and threw in some birdies."

He also said that Thursday's late start helped him out.

"Since I played in the afternoon, the course was running, so I had a lot of shorter clubs in," Hall said.

Eight players were tied at 69 and 25 golfers were at par or better for the round.

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