Thatcher four clear in Florida

Roland Thatcher carded a nine-under par 63 to move into a four-shot lead at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic.

Roland Thatcher fired a brilliant second-round 63 to earn himself a four-shot advantage at the midway point of the PGA Tour Children’s Miracle Network Classic near Lake Buena Vista in Florida.
Thatcher’s flawless nine-under-par round on the Magnolia Golf Course, coupled with Thursday’s opening 65 on the Palm Golf Course, gave him a healthy cushion over fellow Americans Chris Stroud and Brian Gay.
For Thatcher, the stakes are high this week. Sitting at 179th on the PGA Tour money list, he needs to win or finish solo second to avoid a trip back to q-school. Starting off with a 65 and a 63, he might just get the fairytale ending he would have been hoping for.
“Obviously the goal has changed after these first two rounds,” said Thatcher. “I’d like to skip second stage finals if I can. I’m hoping to have a nice long off season and start the year early next year.
“On the Nationwide Tour in ’06 I played pretty poorly all year and was on the bubble going into one of the last two events and finished fourth, which locked up my Nationwide card. So it wasn’t quite as dramatic as locking up the PGA TOUR card, but no less important to me at the time.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to draw on some of that and just try to go out and play well. If I go out and play solid the next two rounds on a good golf course, I’ve got a pretty good chance to avoid all that.”
Stroud, the first-round leader following a stunning 62, could manage only a two-under-par 70 on Friday. He was one over for the day through 15 but birdies on his final three holes got him back in contention.
His achievement in comfortably making the cut ensured he retained his PGA Tour card for next season.
Gay had eight birdies in his second-round 65, the only blemish a bogey on nine, to finish tied for second.
Robert Garrigus also signed for a seven-under 65 on Friday to lie a shot back in fourth – two strokes clear of Mark Wilson, Brett Quigley, Jeff Quinney, Jerry Kelly, Brett Wetterich and Johnson Wagner.
Garrigus is in a similar position to Thatcher; sitting at 129th on the money list, he needs a strong finish after the good work of his opening two rounds.
His meltdown in Memphis earlier this year could still be playing on his mind, however. Leading by three shots with one hole left to play, he triple-bogeyed the final hole to fall into a playoff that he ultimately lost.
“I’ll never get over it,” Garrigus said. “You can’t get over something like that, but what you can do is you can learn from it. I think about it all the time.
“That’s the thing about being a professional golfer, if you let that stuff affect you, you’re not going to be a professional golfer for much longer.”
PGA Tour rookie Rickie Fowler was among a group in joint 11th, eight shots off the pace, after a 70, with England’s Greg Owen (68) and American Tom Lehman (70) a further shot back.