One of the biggest challenges of playing professional golf is adjusting with only a couple days to prepare on a new course and all of its intricacies. Unfavorable weather conditions make it even more necessary to play conservative.
Daniel McCarthy, of Syracuse, N.Y., has managed to handle both quite well through two unseasonably cold rounds in the National Golf Association’s Milton Martin Honda Classic at the Chattahoochee Golf Course. He shot a 69 on Friday to jump to a 1-shot lead over Seth Fair heading into the final two rounds of the four-day tournament in Gainesville.
“The course and the hills are very similar to where I grew up in New York and I used that to my advantage out there,” said McCarthy. “And I’m used to playing cold golf in the spring.
“Now I have to focus on not changing anything I’ve done in the way I’ve played the course.”
McCarthy learned through practice that placement of every shot at Chattahoochee was necessary. And putting is not the time to take chances with firm, fast greens. In the second round, the new leader birdied two par 5s, including a chip shot from a downhill slope that stopped six feet from the hole and made a downhill putt for birdie.
He only bogeyed once in Day 2.
“The biggest thing for me was that I didn’t make many mistakes,” McCarthy said. “You have to be very careful where you land the ball.”
Fair, 25, also shot a 69 on Friday with three consecutive birdies on 15-17, the front nine he played. Like McCarthy, he wasn’t taking chances on an unfamiliar course, knowing that the greens were the trickiest part to finesse. On the par-5 15th he hit his second shot just short of the green, then got up and down for birdie. Fair said he only missed four greens with two putts remaining for par on Day 2.
“I feel really good about the way I played today and was striking the ball and controlling my yardage really well,” Fair said.
Both McCarthy and Fair are seeking their first victory on the NGA Tour, two levels below the PGA.
“I’m excited,” Fair said. “You want to be in contention heading into the weekend.”
Chris Wolfe, of Warner Robins, is also still in the hunt with a 2-under after 36 holes. He shot a 73 in the second round to move down into a tie for fourth place.
He was tied for the overall lead at 69 after Round 1. On Day 2, his best finish was a bogey on No. 11 after a shot into the green side bunker got wedged into a difficult spot to hit out. His third shot went over the green, but he recovered with a good wedge shot and sank a 15-foot putt for a 5.
Wolfe finished his round with a pair of birdies.
“It feels nice to be able to put together two good rounds,” Wolfe said. “On this course, the greens are hard, break and are so fast.
“Pars are your friend.”
Two eagles were recorded on Day 2 of the Milton Martin Honda Classic.
Seven pairings of golfers still have to complete their second round before Round 3 begins this morning.