(Victoria, B.C.) – Langley, British Columbia’s Adam Cornelson and Rockford, Illinois’ Brad Benjamin shot matching rounds of 3-under 67 on Friday at Uplands Golf Club to share the 36-hole lead at the Bayview Place Island Savings Open presented by Times Colonist, the second event of the 2016 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.
Both players reached 9-under through 36 holes, one stroke ahead of a trio of players including West Vancouver, British Columbia’s Seann Harlingten, Cibolo, Texas’ Jeff Rein and Harare, Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent.
“It’s a thinking golf course that tests all facets of your game. There’s a bit of stress on this course, so I’m happy with how I’ve played,” said Cornelson, who has finished in the top-25 at Uplands in each of the last four years.
While Cornelson carded four birdies and one bogey on the day, Benjamin continued to threaten to hole out from nearly anywhere on the course. A day after recording an albatross on the par-5 seventh, the 29-year old chipped in for birdie on the 11th and eagled the 16th from 120 yards out in the trees right of the fairway.
“It’s crazy,” said Benjamin, the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion. “Anybody will tell you to have success on any tour, you have to have a little bit of luck. Hopefully I can keep it going. I’m not planning on holing out, but if I can keep making a few putts I think I’ll be in good shape.”
Despite the hot start, the 28-year old Cornelson refused to get ahead of himself on Thursday, noting he’s held the lead before – when he held the solo lead at the 2014 Wildfire Invitational – and been passed by lower scores on the weekend.
“I’ve slept over leads before, and there’s still so much golf to be played,” said Cornelson. “I’m extremely happy with where I’m at, but this golf tournament’s a long way from being over and I’m taking it one day and one night at a time. There are tons of guys who have made the cut that can still win.”
Rein, who shared the first round lead with Cornelson, Benjamin and two others, fired a second round 68, while Harlingten and Vincent managed a pair of 3-under 67s to sit 8-under through two rounds.
Second Round Leaderboard (Bold denotes Canadian):
Brad Benjamin – 64-67 (-9)
Adam Cornelson – 64-67 (-9)
Seann Harlingten – 65-67 (-8)
Jeff Rein – 64-68 (-8)
Scott Vincent – 65-67 (-8)
Wil Bateman – 67-66 (-7)
KEY NUMBERS TO KNOW:
22/28 (78.6%): Brad Benjamin’s field-leading fairways hit this week.
24: Brad Benjamin’s field-leading putts per round this week.
8: Canadians inside the top-20 heading to the weekend.
Adam Cornelson is making his 52nd career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. In 2015 he finished 94th on the Order of Merit after making five cuts in 11 starts, but regained exempt status through the first four events of the year with a T9 finish at the British Columbia Qualifying Tournament.
Cornelson has finished in the top-25 in each of the last four seasons in Victoria, with a career-best T13 finish coming in 2013.
Cornelson has entered the weekend inside the top-3 on the leaderboard twice. In 2014, he led at The Wildfire Invitational and was 3rd at the Freedom 55 Financial Championship through two rounds and went on to finish T5 and T2, respectively.
One day after recording an albatross on the par-5 seventh hole, Brad Benjamin holed out twice from off the green on Friday. He chipped in for birdie on the par-4 11th hole and holed out for eagle from 120 yards on the par-4 16th hole.
Benjamin won the 2009 U.S. Amateur Public Links, defeating Abbotsford, B.C.’s Nick Taylor 7&6 in the championship match.
Benjamin is making his second career start on the Mackenzie Tour. He earned conditional status with a T22 finish at the USA East No. 1 Q-School.
Benjamin is currently 2nd alternate for next week’s GolfBC Championship, but can get into the field with a Top-20 finish this week in Victoria.
Jeff Rein is making his 13th career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. In 2015, he finished 96th on the Order of Merit with a season-best T21 at The Wildfire Invitational. He regained status with a solo 4th place finish at the British Columbia Q-School in 2016.
This week marks the first time Rein has been inside the top-10 entering the weekend at a Mackenzie Tour event.
Scott Vincent is making his third career start on the Mackenzie Tour this week. He earned conditional status with a T22 finish at the USA East No. 1 Q-School, and played his way into the field in Victoria with a T8 finish at last week’s Freedom 55 Financial Open.
A graduate of Virginia Tech, Vincent was named a 1st team All-American in 2015 and finished his four-year collegiate career with the program’s all-time best scoring average at 71.65.
Vincent also has Asian Tour status after finishing T2 at the final stage of Q-School earlier this winter.
“I don’t like taking anything for granted. I feel like the Q-School was good for me, in that it’s the beginning of the season, but I felt more pressure at Q-School than I have in a while, and I think I dealt with it pretty well. I think I’ll look back at going back to Q-School as a positive for my career.” – Adam Cornelson on feeling humble after returning to Q-School this spring.
“I chipped in on 11 and holed out on 16. The one on 16, I had a nice little gap through the trees. It was a tough shot but I had a good number, and just got so lucky. It went in again, just like yesterday.” – Brad Benjamin on holing out from 120 yards with a gap wedge on the 16th hole.
“It’s big for me just to make the cut, because I was at the end of the field this week and I know I’m on the outside looking in for next week’s event. It would be nice to play my way into next week and hopefully improve my position on the re-shuffle for the rest of the season. There was some pressure on today’s round but I felt calm and I never got too far ahead of myself.” – Benjamin on trying to turn a good result this week into more starts.
“The pins were a lot tougher today, and usually when you shoot a good round, the next day you’re not quite as sharp. I had to fight through that, and I took advantage of the opportunities I had. You just want to make the ones that you don’t necessarily expect to make, but they’re short enough that you can make ‘em.” – Jeff Rein on following up Thursday’s 64 on Friday.
“I think you have to be smart and pick your holes where you’ll be aggressive. It’s not one of those courses where the longest guy out there is going to have a huge advantage, and that’s definitely. You have to play smart and hit some good quality iron shots, and so far it’s been good.” – Scott Vincent on making his way around the tricky layout at Uplands.
“After I birdied 17, I wanted that one pretty bad. You want to break that bubble a little bit.” – Wil Bateman on shooting 29 for the first time as a professional. Bateman’s back-nine 29 gave him a 4-under 66 to sit sixth at 7-under.
“I feel like Victoria’s a great spot for support from the community, and for sure for the B.C. guys. It’s fun to see Canadian players on the leaderboard. I’m super pumped up to have a good day and have some fun out there tomorrow.” – Seann Harlingten on competing as a British Columbian in his home province.