By LARRY VAUGHT
Several weeks before the Barbasol Championship, Josh Teater made two predictions — he thought Keene Trace Golf Club would be a great venue for the first PGA Tour stop in Kentucky in over 50 years and he expected a lot of friends to show up to watch him play.
So far, he’s been right about both things and has only added to the excitement after shooting a 6-under par 66 in Friday’s rain shortened second round that leaves him 10-under par after two rounds and five shots behind clubhouse leader Troy Merritt. Teater is tied for fifth place.
Teater, who was born in Danville and graduate from Lexington Henry Clay High School and Morehead State University, may not play again until Sunday. Severe weather stopped play before 27 players even started their second rounds and another 54 were still on the course. Only 41 golfers out of 132 completed a full round.
Second round play is scheduled to start early Saturday morning, but more foul weather is being forecast.
But the potential severe weather did not stop a huge group of fans from following Teater, who was 5-under on the front nine and had an eagle 3.
“It’s great being here. It’s home. To play good, it was everybody kind of pushing me on,” Teater said. “Got a little stale there in the middle. Didn’t make any putts but had plenty of looks. Hopefully we get 36 more tries.”
He mashed a 342-yard drive on the 392-yard 10th hole but a mishit second shot resulted in him having to make a 7-foot par putt. On the next hole, he missed an 8-foot birdie putt.
“This is kind of my major. Has been since they announced it,. Top 25 on the Web (Web.com Tour) does get you on the TOUR, but a win here also does. That’s what we’re shooting for,” Teater said. “I wouldn’t miss it unless I was across the pond (playing in the British Open).”
He had birdies on three of the first five holes Friday before making about a 15-foot eagle putt at No. 6 after hitting a 4-hybrid 246 yards to reach the green to really get his fans excited. He said it was a “simple” putt to make.
Teater said he was “pretty juiced” himself but had pars on the next 10 holes before getting a birdie on the par-5 17th. He tapped in a 1-foot par putt on 18 just before play was halted.
“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,” Teater said. “Kind of a lot like yesterday. Had a lot of looks, awesome putts go in early, and got hot. Wish I could have made a few more in the middle, but got one there on 17 coming in; just short on 18.”
Teater missed the cut in last week’s Web.com Tour event and is battling to finish in the top 25 on the money list to earn his PGA Tour card for 2019. Yet he never considered not playing in the Barbasol to play in the Web.com event in Omaha.
“No way I would miss this,” Teater said.
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Merritt said the weather delays did make it necessary to stay focused mentally.
“Moved up tee times hour 20 minutes, and we ended up teeing off about 20 minutes later than what we were supposed to anyway (because of the weather),” he said. “Just didn’t know if the next round of storms was going to build. It’s just always a little bit tough out there to keep a rhythm when you know you could be pulled off the course at any time. We had some dark clouds roll in from time to time; heard some thunder on the 7th tee. So just to try to put that to the back of your mind is the toughest thing on a day like today. It’s nice to have two rounds under our belt.”
Merritt is almost assured of being the 36-hole leader as no one is closer than two shots. However, he said he can’t think about past failures he’s had when he had chances to win and didn’t.
“We’re going to sit up, if not on top of the leaderboard near the top. We’re just got to maintain focus; just work on one shot at a time. Pound that through your head over and over and over. It gets very repetitive and boring, but that’s what you have to do when you’re near the top,” Merritt said.