The earlier the tee time, the better, says Wes Homan.
Out in the first group Friday on Day 2 of the Staal Foundation Open, the Cincinnati golfer conquered Whitewater Golf Club, firing a seven-under 65 to earn a share of the lead at the first-year PGA Tour Canada event.
Homan, seeking his first win on Tour, rolled off four straight birdies to start his round, eagled the par 5 12th, the lone blemish on his card a bogey on No. 15.
“I’ve been hitting where I wanted for a couple of weeks and just waiting for some putts to drop. Finally it’s kind of shaking my way, so we’ll see what we can do,” said Homan, whose 12-under 132 total equalled England’s Greg Eason.
Eason, a former construction worker at one point ranked the third-best amateur in the world, had seven birdies and no bogeys on his round, following Thursday's 67 with a solid 65 on Friday, one shy of the course record set by Brandon Harkins a day earlier.
"It's been great. I played really well. I putted really well. I've had an awful lot of fun this week. The course suits me I think. I've got a nice game plan for it and I've managed to play well," the former NCAA star said. "I had no bogeys yesterday as well, so it was nice. I'm trying to play a little smarter this week than I have been."
American Josh Stone was third at 135, nine under par.
Homan said he thought his approach shot on 12 was off the mark when he hit it, but it wound up in a pretty good spot, setting up an easy eagle putt.
“That’s kind of a funny tee shot, but if you hit a good one, you get a good look at it,” he said of the dog-leg right hole that offers plenty of risk-reward.
“The pin was back, kind of in the middle of the green, kind of on a side-hill lie. I had a great number and kind of hit it straight over the bunker and it wasn’t cutting. Then all of a sudden it started going. The guy up there said it almost went in for a double, but I got the eagle. I’ll take anything I can get.”
Homan thinks he’s in pretty good shape hitting the weekend.
“Thursday and Friday, you just want to get past them and play the weekend,” said Homan, whose best PGA Tour Canada result was a second-place finish in 2011. He also had a top three finish last summer.
“That’s when the fun starts.”
Homan wasn’t the only golfer dialled early in on Friday.
One player who helped his cause immensely with a single shot was American Bryan Bergna, who scored a rare deuce on the par 5 third hole.
Bergna said he used a six-iron from 210 yards.
"It looked good the whole way and it just disappeared," he said.
"It was shocking. I thought it was funny because I've never had a hole-in-one and then I get a double-eagle before I get a hole-in-one. It's just how crazy this game is. It was amazing feeling."
Ted Brown is the top Canadian at seven under par. Fellow Canuck Devin Carrey recorded the tournament`s first hole-in-one, scoring an ace on No. 15. He made the cut on the number.
It was a day to forget for first-round leader Brandon Harkins. The California native, who set a new Whitewater course record with a 64 on Thursday, was 16 shots worse on Friday, his even par 144 total leaving him one shot on the wrong side of the cut line.
Homan won't have the advantage of an early tee time on Saturday. Homan and Eason, the final group of the day, are scheduled to tee off at 1:10 p.m.
Greg Eason, -12
Wes Homan, -12
Joshua Stone, -9
Tim Madigan, -8
Blake Snyder, -8
Ted Brown, -7
Joel Dahmen, -7
Ryan Brehm, -7
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