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Lower leads after suspended 2nd round BMW Charity Pro-AM

Published on Friday, June 11, 2021

Justin Lower followed up a first-round 64 at The Cliffs Valley course with a second-round 63 at the Thornblade Club Friday  to take a one-stroke lead at 16-under at the BMW Charity Pro-Am as play was suspended due to inclement weather. The second round will resume at 7:15 a.m. Saturday on both courses with the third round to follow after the conclusion of the second round.

“I think this is my fifth year here, so it’s about time I figured it out,” Lower said with a laugh of his past history at the tournament. “I’ve been playing well all year and just haven’t gotten the putter going. I started to get it going over the last month or so a little more and it’s starting to really show now.”

Lower, 32, from Canal Fulton, Ohio, has birdied half of his 36 holes thus far, three more than any other player in the field. On Friday, he had six birdies on his back nine on his way to a closing 5-under 36 and 8-under 63 total.

While his scoring holes have been notable, Lower credited a par at the par-5 second hole early in his round as the catalyst.

“I got up and down right of the green on No. 2 for par,” said Lower. “I was having trouble focusing. Just a lot of people going around, a lot of noise. I had missed the green with a wedge in my hand and I kind of had a tough shot and I hit it to two feet. Just to save momentum early was huge.”

Lower entered the week 37th in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings with eight tournaments remaining. In 2018, Lower experienced heartbreak at the final event of the season, the Korn Ferry Tour Championship. He was hovering around The Finals 25 bubble coming down the stretch before facing an eight-foot birdie putt at the 72nd hole. A birdie would have earned him his first PGA TOUR card but Lower missed on the low side and finished 26th, missing out on TOUR membership by one slot.

“I want that PGA TOUR card,” said Lower, a Malone University alum. “Hopefully it’s not just that, it’s more than that, but my game feels good. Every year I’ve made a steady improvement so hopefully I keep trending in the right direction and it will happen eventually.”

Last week’s champion Mito Pereira is one stroke back at 14-under in his bid to go back-to-back and earn his third victory of the season and an immediate promotion to the PGA TOUR. Michael Miller, the runner-up at the last BMW Charity Pro-Am, is even with Pereira at 14-under.

The teams of professional Andy Pope and former Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star A.J. Pierzynski are tied with professional Evan Harmeling and former MLB All-Star David Wells in the low-handicap celebrity division (termed the X6 Division) while professional Matt Picanso and world champion boxer Canelo Alvarez lead the high-handicap celebrity division (X7 Division). 

  • The professional cut is projected to be made at 6-under, though it is subject to change.

  • Lower projects to move to 18th in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings with a victory; just 10 of 35 second-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win this season, but that includes four of the last five.

  • Mito Pereira has now had eight consecutive rounds of 68 or better, dating back two tournaments (68-67-62-67-67-67-65-63).

  • Tommy Gainey (-14, 4th), 45, from Hartsville, carded the low round of the tournament with an 11-under 61 at The Cliffs Valley course on Friday; the 61 was the lowest round at the tournament since eventual champion Michael Arnaud shot a 60 in the second round of the 2018 tournament.

  • Jonathan Hodge (-13, 5th) aced the seventh hole at The Cliffs Valley course on Friday from 183 yards out; the ace was the third of the tournament after two on Thursday.

  • Lee Hodges (-10, T10) needs 12 points to pass the 1,700-point threshold the Korn Ferry Tour is using as its fail-safe mark to secure a spot in The 25 and earn his PGA TOUR card; 12 points is the equivalent of a finish of 44th or better.

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