Like a teacher adding additional content to an exam that was already difficult, the wind was the extra challenge Saturday at the 2014 Watson Challenge at the Country Club at Loch Lloyd, a test meant to determine “the best golfer in the greater Kansas City golf community.”
A few golfers used the wind to their advantage. Saturday’s new co-leaders capitalized on the struggles that other golfers faced to climb their way up the leader board.
Former Southern Methodist University golfer Harry Higgs made his debut as a professional in this year’s tournament and shared the lead at 143 with amateur Zac Dittmer of Liberty. Higgs and Dittmer are 1-under and the only two players on the board under par.
Higgs shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday, aided by an eagle on the fourth and four birdies in the round. Dittmer, who finished round one with a 1-under 71, shot even par 72 on Saturday.
“I just kind of hung in there with the wind all day,” Dittmer said. “I made lots of pars, had a few birdies and had a good chip-in on No. 15 which kind of saved my round after I made a bogey on 14. Just steady golf all day.”
One shot back at even par 144 is PGA Tour member and Former Kansas State golfer Robert Streb, who was in a six-way tie for 15th on Friday.
Tom Watson shot a 4-over 76 for a 146 through two rounds and admitted he did not handle the winds.
“The golf course played a lot tougher today with this strong wind and I didn’t manage it very well,” said Tom Watson, who shot a 4-over 76 for a total score of 146 through two rounds.
“If you compared my round to a baseball game, it was no runs, one hit and six errors today. I’m disappointed about the way I played.”
Watson sat in fifth place after Friday’s first round but dropped to a three-way tie for 12th Saturday. He is tied with Curtis Yonke of Overland Park and Friday’s co-leader, 17-year-old Preston Fleenor.
Fleenor, a junior amateur at Pembroke Hills High School shot a 7-over 79 in the second round, 12 strokes more than his mark on Friday. Fleenor birdied No. 4 in the first round but shot for bogey on the same hole on Saturday. He finished round two with six bogeys and one double bogey.
Friday’s co-leader Sean Dougherty of Milburn Golf and Country Club slipped into an eight-way tie for fourth after posting a 6-over 78 in the second round.
“Today the biggest thing (was) I made some good shots I just didn’t judge the wind very well, downwind or into the wind,” Dougherty said. “I don’t know if it was gusty or what, I just didn’t judge that very well which I was kind of disappointed with. I’m usually decent at that.”
One hole in particular seemed to get the best of Dougherty. Friday he hit a tree on No. 17 which resulted in a bogey. Saturday that same hole gave him trouble, and he finished it up with his only double bogey thus far in the tournament.
Still, Dougherty remains only 2 strokes away from the leaders.
With today’s forecast calling for rain and soggy conditions, the golfers will have another obstacle to face while seeking that elusive title for this year’s best golfer in the area.
“I’m feeling good about tomorrow, hopefully the weather holds off,” Dittmer said. “It should be a good day and may the best man win.”