COLUMBUS, Ohio – A former Oklahoma State University golfer sits atop the leaderboard at the halfway point of the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, but it may not be the cowboy everyone expected. Kevin Dougherty fired a second-round 5-under 66 to take the 36-hole lead at 134 (-8). Brandon Hagy sits alone in second, one stroke back after a final-hole birdie for a 4-under 67. Third at 6-under 136 is Brendon Todd, who shot a 7-under 64, the low round of the day.
Overnight co-leaders Viktor Hovland, tied fourth at 137 (-5) and Cameron Percy, tied eighth at 138 (-4), struggled in the afternoon conditions with rounds of 73 and 74, respectively.
Dougherty, a 28-year-old from Murrieta, California, began on the 10th hole and notched three birdies on his opening nine, at Nos. 12, 16 and 18, before adding a fourth birdie at No. 4. When his sand-wedge from 117 yards settled less than two feet from the cup on his final hole, he tapped in for birdie and a bogey-free, 5-under 66.
After coming in off three missed cuts, Dougherty said his tee shots have been his strength this week.
“I think I missed three fairways the first two days and two of them were in the first cut by a foot,” he said. “I’m driving it really good and giving myself really good looks at the holes.”
Dougherty, No. 26 at the conclusion of last year’s Korn Ferry Tour Regular Season when he narrowly missed a chip-in birdie on the 72nd hole that would have moved him inside The 25, is at the Korn Ferry Tour Finals this season after finishing the Regular Season at No. 33. His highlight was a runner-up finish at the Wichita Open Supporting Wichita’s Youth where he was eliminated in a five-man playoff won by Henrik Norlander. The following week he tied for third at the Utah Championship presented by Zions Bank.
Now that the Regular Season is complete, Dougherty, who got engaged to Lindsay Suchy two weeks ago, feels like it’s nice to have a fresh start this week.
“Everyone is at zero so it doesn’t matter what we did from January in the Bahamas until now,” he said. “Then again, these events are really important, so there’s just as much on the line for sure.”
Brandon Hagy, on the comeback trail after being sidelined by a hairline fracture of his left wrist that kept him out of the game for five months in 2018, mixed five birdies with three bogeys and an eagle at the par-5 sixth hole to move into solo-second, one stroke back of Dougherty.
“I never dealt with taking five months off before,” he said. “I had some flashes of some good golf last summer on this tour, which gave me some confidence.”
This season on the PGA TOUR, Hagy made one cut in the 13 events he played, advancing to the weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, eventually finishing in a tie for 66th. His lone Korn Ferry Tour start was a missed cut at the Knoxville Open.
“It’s a fine line out there (on the PGA TOUR),” he added. “I think I missed like six or seven cuts by one shot, which you’re not really playing that bad on that tour if you’re missing a cut by one shot. So, I’ve just been trying to stay positive, keep reinforcing the good stuff. It’s a lot easier said than done, for sure, but I think I can do it.”
The best move of the day came from PGA TOUR winner Brendon Todd, who closed with four straight birdies to shoot 7-under 64 in the early wave and sit third at 136 (-6). Todd, who began the tournament with a double bogey on Thursday when his opening tee shot ended up just inches over the out-of-bounds line and sat tied 65th, credited his jump of 62 spots on the leaderboard to improved ball-striking.
“It’s a good golf course for me because it is difficult and there’s some strategy involved, because the holes are so tight and there’s so many doglegs,” he said. “From that standpoint, being a shorter hitter but somebody who kind of places the ball, it’s a pretty good track for me.”
Todd had struggled with his game for several years before seeing notable improvement this year, making the cut in seven of 11 PGA TOUR starts. Before those 11 starts in the 2018-19 PGA TOUR season, the only cut he’d made in his 20 previous starts was a tie for 70th at the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson, the tournament he won in 2014 for his lone PGA TOUR title.
“I really built a lot of momentum this year and I feel ready to compete out here,” he said. “These finals are really all about having that great week. I look at each week as a one?week race to the top. If you can win or cash in on the top three, you can get back on the PGA TOUR, and that’s kind of what this is all about for me.”
Scott Harrington, who finished solo-second at last week’s WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz to move to No. 19 and earn a PGA TOUR card, birdied five of his last six holes for 67 to sit tied fourth with Hovland, Ben Taylor and Ben Martin at 5-under 137.
The 36-hole cut came at 1-over 143 with 75 professionals advancing to the weekend.
* Friday’s weather: Partly cloudy, with a high of 85. Wind SW at 7-14 mph.
* The cut came at 1-over with 75 players advancing to the weekend.
* Kevin Dougherty holds the 36-hole lead for the first time in his Korn Ferry Tour career. Last season at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz, Dougherty missed a chip on his 72nd hole by inches that would have secured his first PGA TOUR card.
* Through two rounds, Dougherty ranks T1 in putts per green in regulation with 58 putts on 32 greens. The 28-year-old also ranks second in driving accuracy having hit 23 of 28 fairways.
* In 2013, Brandon Hagy (2nd/-7) won individual medalist honors at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational contested at the Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlet Course.
* Hagy sits alone in second place through 36 holes for the second time in his Korn Ferry Tour career. At the 2016 United Leasing & Finance Championship, Hagy was second through two rounds before finishing T36.
* Brendon Todd (3rd/-6) fired the low round of the day, posting a 7-under 64 on Friday. Todd is making his fifth start in Columbus and first since 2013.
* Entering the 2018-19 PGA TOUR season, Todd had made just five cuts in his previous 44 starts. This season, he made seven cuts in 11 starts, and now has a chance to secure his 2019-20 PGA TOUR card.
* Five of 24 second-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win this season, most recently Kristoffer Ventura at the Pinnacle Bank Championship presented by Chevrolet.
* Scott Harrington (T4/-5) is the only player from The 25 within three shots of the lead. Harrington birdied five of his last six holes to close his second round. Last week, Harrington secured his first PGA TOUR card with a solo-second at the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by KraftHeinz.
* Defending champion Robert Streb (T8/-4) sits four strokes off the lead through two rounds. Streb defeated Peter Malnati in a playoff at the Scarlet Course last season.
* After 36 holes, first round co-leaders Viktor Hovland and Cameron Percy sit T4 and T8, respectively.
* This week’s purse is $1,000,000, with $180,000 going to the champion. The winner will also receive 1,000 Korn Ferry Tour Points.
* It is estimated that players with 200 or more Korn Ferry Tour Points at the conclusion of the Korn Ferry Tour Championship presented by United Leasing & Finance will secure a 2019-20 PGA TOUR card.
* The par-4 14th hole (473 yards) ranked as the toughest hole on the course Friday with a scoring average of 4.276.
* The par-5 12th hole (562 yards) ranked as the easiest hole on Friday. The hole played to an average of 4.500 and yielded four eagles and 66 birdies.
*Ohio State University Golf Club – Scarlet Course Scoring Average:
Front Back Total Cumulative
R1 36.232 35.580 71.812
R2 35.933 35.642 71.575 71.693