TAG RIDINGS AND MARTIN FLORES SHARE TWO-SHOT LEAD
Columbus, Ohio – Tag Ridings and Martin Flores carded the best two scores of the day Friday to take a share of the second-round lead by two shots at 8-under 134 at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship, the third of four Web.com Tour Finals events. Ridings carded the best round of the day – a 6-under 65 – to grab his share of the lead, while Flores bogeyed the last for a 5-under 66 to join Ridings at the top with a two-shot lead over eight players – Nicholas Lindheim (68), Xander Schauffele (68), Jason Millard (67), Grayson Murray (67), Kevin Tway (70), Bobby Wyatt (69), Whee Kim (71), and Erik Compton (69 – in a tie for third at 6-under.
“I’m very happy with [my round],” Flores said. “I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie. I hit it close, hit it well, so extremely happy. I hit the shot I wanted to there [on 18], I thought I hit a good drive, but that’s just kind of how it goes sometimes.”
After opening with a 2-under 69, Ridings began his second round on the back nine with a chip-in on No. 10 that was the start of three straight birdies on Nos. 10-12. Ridings’ first bogey of the day came at the par-4 13th, but he reeled off birdies at Nos. 14, 16, 4, and 6 on the way in to finish off his best round of the season.
“Well, this is kind of my favorite thing to do is play long, tough conditions and tough golf courses,” Ridings said. “So, why that is, I wish I knew, but probably more under par after two rounds on this golf course than I was anywhere all summer. It makes you think a little bit. If you mess up, you’ve got to take your punishment and get out of there and I did that a couple of times the last two days.”
Following a 52nd place finish on the Web.com Tour Regular Season money list, Ridings is hoping to get hot at the right time and use this Web.com Tour Finals as the vehicle to take him back to PGA TOUR, where he’s spent the bulk of eight seasons with 12 career top-10s on TOUR.
“I think everybody that hasn’t done their job so far in the first two weeks or first part of the year definitely feels that pressure,” Ridings said. “You want to get it done as quickly as possible to take the heat off.”
Flores doesn’t have that pressure, having already locked up his PGA TOUR card for the 2016-17 season. The 34-year-old began his second round on the front nine and turned in 1-under, but he got hot starting on the back nine, knocking it within five feet for easy birdies on Nos. 10, 12, 13 and 14 to tie the lead at 8-under. Flores surged into the solo lead with a 20-footer at the par-4 15th for his fourth consecutive birdie – and fifth in his first six holes of the back nine – but bogeyed the last to end the day with the co-lead.
“I’m very, very happy with my ball striking,” Flores said. “I gave myself a lot of close putts, and I converted those today. The speed control has been really, really great. Other than that I haven’t really had to deal with anything else up to this point. So I would like to just keep doing what I’m doing and see what happens.”
A year ago here at Ohio State University Golf Club’s Scarlet Course, Flores also held the 36-hole lead but weekend rounds of 74-71 dropped him into T20. Flores feels like he’s more prepared to close out a victory this year, though, after securing his first Web.com Tour victory at the Lincoln Land Charity Championship in July to lock up a return to the PGA TOUR.
“I just want to win more often,” Flores said. “I haven’t won very much at all. I just want to keep putting myself in position to win and see how I can do.”
In 20 starts on the Web.com Tour this season, Flores posted a victory, two thirds and three additional top-10 finishes on his way to a fifth-place finish on the Regular Season money list. With 142 career PGA TOUR starts under his belt, the Fort Worth, Texas native is looking to round his game into shape just in time for his sixth full season on TOUR after spending the better part of 2010 and 2012-2015 on TOUR before returning to the Web.com Tour in 2016 to work his way back.
“You are where you are for a reason, and obviously, I didn’t play very well in the 2015 season, so I had an opportunity to come back out here and keep improving on my game,” Flores said. “So I’m very thankful for that, and I look forward to the return and should. It’s always a challenge to play on the PGA TOUR, so I really enjoyed that.”
Schauffele, who is currently T3 after back-to-back 68s, is also looking for his PGA TOUR card after finishing one spot out of a jump to the TOUR with a 26th place finish on the Regular Season money list. The 22-year-old entered this week inside the Finals bubble but just barely at No. 25 on the Finals money list, setting the stage for what could be a huge weekend for the young San Diego native.
“I still get nerves like everyone else, I hope, but I feel like I belong the more and more I do this and more and more I have these talks with [the media],” Schauffele said. “It makes me feel better about how I’m playing, so I’m definitely feeling comfortable.”
* Friday weather: Partly cloudy. High: 88, Low: 65, Winds: S-SE 5-10 mph.
* This week’s purse is $1,000,000, with $180,000 going to the champion.
* A total of 66 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 1-under 141.
* This is the fourth time in the tournament’s 10-year history that the cut has been under par.
* This is the third event in the Web.com Tour Finals, a series of four events that will conclude at the Web.com Tour Championship in Atlantic Beach, Fla., Oct. 6-9. Twenty-five PGA TOUR cards were awarded four weeks ago following the WinCo Foods Portland Open. An additional 25 cards are up for grabs during the four Finals events, as well as positioning for all 50 cards.
* This is the fourth year of the Finals format and it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much money it will take to finish in the top-25 on the Finals money list and collect one of the remaining 25 PGA TOUR cards that will be handed out in a few weeks. Here’s how much money the No. 25 man on the money list earned in each of the past three years:
2013 No. 25 Bobby Gates $33,650.00
2014 No. 25 Eric Axley $36,311.66
2015 No. 25 Rob Oppenheim $32,206.00
* With two of the four Finals events completed, it’s still difficult to gauge exactly how much money it will take to secure a top-25 spot on the money list, but history dictates that something over the $40,000 mark could be enough to garner a 2016-17 PGA TOUR card. Here is a list of those eight players who have topped that number after two events and how they finished in the DAP Championship and Albertsons Boise Open presented by Kraft Nabisco, respectively:
– Michael Thompson $184,000 T39, 1st
– Bryson DeChambeau $180,000 1st, MC
– Miguel Angel Carballo $108,000 MC, 2nd
– Andres Gonzales $87,266 P2, T18
– Scott Stallings $68,875 T6, T5
– Andrew Johnston $54,910 T28, 4th
– Zack Sucher $44,018 5th, T37
– Gonzalo Fdez-Castano $41,500 T16, T9
* Tag Ridings has led/co-led after 36 holes three times in his career on Tour. Ridings has only made $9,493 in two starts in the Finals, well back of the magic number of $40,000. Ridings is making his sixth appearance in the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. He’s made the cut four times with his best finish coming in 2010 (T9).
* Ridings’ third-round scoring average at the Scarlet Course is 71.33.
* Flores trailed heading into the third round earlier this year at the Lincoln Land Charity Championship, carded 65-67 and earned his first Tour victory to secure his PGA TOUR card for 2016-17.
* Schauffele has recorded a T50 at the DAP Championship and a T18 at the Albertsons Boise Open and earned $15,395 in the first two Finals events. His third-round scoring average this season is 69.71.
* With a stroke average of 72.773 (+1.773) in 2015, the Scarlet Course played as the third toughest track on Tour last season.
Scoring Average for the Scarlet Course for the week:
Front (36) Back (35) Total (71) Cumulative
R1: 35.819 34.976 70.795 —-
R2: 36.120 35.096 71.216 70.998