WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS —
After two days of play, The Old White TPC seems to be keeping things fair. And it’s best to be starting before noon than after.
For a second straight day, the morning wave was where the low scores were to be found.
Billy Hurley III fired a seven-under 63 to vault to the top of the leaderboard Friday while Troy Matteson came from way off the lead to fourth place thanks to a nine-under 61.
“It was unlike any day I’ve had this year,” Matteson said. “Obviously, I hit it much better, as much as you can out here in the wind when it’s as gusty as it is. It’s going to be tough (in the afternoon)
“The wind is changing direction probably 90 degrees at a time and that’s what made it tough for us. If it blows like that, it’s going to be very difficult out there this afternoon.”
The afternoon conditions Friday were similar to Thursday, with the wind picking up, the course firming up and few players going low.
“It was a tough day,” Steve Stricker said after shooting a 2-under 68 to put him in a tie for fifth at 6-under par. “The wind was gusty. It was coming from all over the place.
“You really couldn’t pick a wind direction and stick with it. It gets down in this valley, bounces off both sides and literally comes from all over the place. It made club selection very difficult and trusting your club selection difficult.”
Temperatures were barely in the 70s for most of the second round, which was a stark contrast to the hot and humid conditions earlier in the week.
“It definitely played a little longer,” said Chris Stroud, who carded a second-straight four-under 66 to sit in a tie for second with Kevin Chappell at eight under. “This morning was probably 60 degrees, but there was no wind. As the day heated up, it plays a little shorter and a little shorter.
“The fairways definitely dried out a little bit, which was nice.”
Stroud and Hurley were part of the first group out Friday morning. It was the second straight day the first pairings produced a low score.
James Hahn shot a five-under 65 Thursday in the first pairing, but he couldn’t back it up in the second round as he shot a four-over par 74 in the afternoon.
The course should continue to firm up this weekend as temperatures are back in the 80s and there will be few clouds in the sky.
“If it stays windy and it gets firmer, the course is tough,” Chappell said following his five-under 65. “You just have to take it one day at a time and see what the course will give you.”
— Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jmgreene516