Hungry for Win No. 1, Hadley Takes Sole Possession of River Landing Lead
By Stewart Moore
Wallace, NC – Chesson Hadley of Raleigh, NC – one of the eGolf Tour’s more charismatic players – followed up a first-round 65 with a second-round 68 on Thursday afternoon to reach 11-under par at the inaugural River Landing Open, and will now take a two-shot lead into Friday’s third round, with eyes on capturing his first tour title.
The River Landing Open is the 16th event of the 2012 eGolf Tour season, and is being contested this week on the River Course at River Landing Country Club in Wallace, NC.
Hadley, currently fifth on the eGolf Tour money list with $52,210, played the first four holes of his second round in 1-over par before bouncing back with birdies on Nos. 5, 7 and 8 to turn at 2-under 34.
“I just could not shake that tired feeling early in the round,” said Hadley, who is commuting from 50 minutes away in Wilmington, NC. “I’m glad I made that bogey on four because it kind of woke me up. After that, I made a good birdie on No. 5 and I was off.”
The three-time Georgia Tech “All American” played flawless golf on his closing nine, with eight pars and an eagle at the par-5 13th to post another 2-under 34 that finished off his second-round 68.
“I had a perfect number on 13 and hit a great approach to 8 feet to set up the eagle,” said Hadley. “I hit a lot of good shots today, I just couldn’t hit it quite close enough. The wind picked up and the pins were a bit harder, so it was going to be tougher to go low.”
Hadley missed the cut at the tour’s season-opening Palmetto Hall Championship, but has since played brilliantly, recording four top-5 finishes and making 14 consecutive cuts – including this week at River Landing.
The consistent season, which features nine top-25 finishes thus far, has Hadley knocking on the winner’s door again in this, his second full season on the eGolf Tour.
Hadley’s eGolf Tour career began in runner-up fashion, when he battled current PGA TOUR members Tommy Biershenk and Jason Kokrak in just his second pro start at the 2010 Bushnell Championship, before losing to Kokrak on the 72nd hole.
A runner-up at the Samanah Classic in Morocco was the highlight of his 2011 sophomore campaign on tour, as were third-place finishes at the Southern Open and Cabarrus Classic.
At the tour’s inaugural Championship at Wintergreen Resort three weeks ago, Hadley dueled alongside good friend Peter Malnati throughout much of the event’s final round, before coming up one-shot short of Malnati en route to his third career runner-up finish on tour.
“Positively, I draw from the runner-up at Wintergreen,” said Hadley of his close calls. “I played bogey-free golf the last day, and Peter wound up beating me by one. That was my best round when I was in contention.”
Be it early in the week or late in the final round, Hadley’s name has been synonymous with eGolf Tour leaderboards in 2012. The former Yellow Jacket star has 12 rounds of 66 or better on the year – a stat which certainly lends itself to being in contention.
“I feel like I’ve been in the final group, or had the lead, six or seven times this year. Like Drew, the more you’re there the more comfortable you get with it,” said Hadley, referencing good friend and eGolf Tour leading money winner Drew Weaver. “I know I’m going to have to go out there and post a number these next two days, I just feel as though I’m a lot more relaxed now when I try to do that.”
At times, Hadley’s struggles have come in the final round. In 13 final rounds played on the year, Hadley has broken 70 just five times – with three rounds posted at 76 or higher. Knowing he needs to improve on that number, Hadley threw out an ideal scenario for his final 36 holes of play at River Landing.
“I’m not going to complain about my 68 today, I’ll never do that,” he said. “In fact, if you give me two more 68s from here on out, I’ll take it. I’ll just sit back and see what happens.”
Two more 68s would place Hadley at 19-under on Saturday afternoon, which would likely put him on the 18th green holding an oversized check.
With rounds of 66-69—135, David Robinson of Sandersville, GA sits just two shots behind Hadley heading into the event’s final 36 holes.
Robinson, who entered day two in a tie for third following his 6-under effort on Wednesday, got off to a slow start in Thursday’s second round, with three pars leading to a bogey in his first four holes.
The bogey at No. 4 – his first of the week – was quickly erased by a birdie at the par-5 fifth that took the former Georgia College and State University golfer back to even on the day and 6-under for the week.
From there, Robinson carded birdies at 11, 13 and 18 to finish off his 3-under effort in the second round, in turn reaching the 9-under mark at the halfway point.
Robinson, a three-time eGolf Tour winner and leading money winner in 2008, is still looking for his first win since that magical year when he became the first tour player to break the $100,000 mark in single-season earnings. The River Landing Open represents his 54th start since picking up his third win in 2008. In the years between, Robinson made 16 starts as a conditional member of the Web.com Tour, posting one top-25 finish – a T17 at the 2010 Wichita Open.
In third place at 8-under 136, three shots behind Hadley, are Andrew McLardy of Greensboro, NC and Alan Wagner of Argentina.
McLardy, a native of South Africa, is making one of his final starts of the year before undergoing foot surgery in a few weeks. The former PGA TOUR, European Tour and Web.com Tour member has been forced to lay off his right foot at times, and can play roughly 5-6 holes before the pain starts to swell. Once under the knife, McLardy will be out of competition for roughly three months.
McLardy’s 2012 season has been somewhat up-and-down, with 7 made cuts in 11 starts and five top-15 finishes to his name. The five-time Sunshine Tour winner is looking to improve on a career-best third-place finish, posted at last fall’s Spring Creek Classic. McLardy has 56 career starts on the PGA TOUR and 69 career starts on the Web.com Tour – with two career third-place finishes on the latter.
Wagner spent the majority of 2011 away from his native Argentina and competing on the eGolf Tour. The 22-year-old from Buenos Aires recorded four top-25 finishes in his rookie year on tour, and has since followed it up with two more in 2012 – including a career-best T7 at the Columbia Open in May. Both of Wagner’s top-10s on the eGolf Tour came in Columbia, with this year’s T7 and a T8 in the event’s 2011 edition.
Those not familiar with Wagner’s game should take note of his success on international tours, as well as this year’s Web.com Tour – where he has made two cuts in four starts.
In 2008, Wagner burst onto the golf scene with a win at the Peru Open – an event sanctioned by the Tour de las Americas. That breakthrough victory gave way to an even more prestigious title the following year, when Wagner posted rounds of 68-71-68-68—275 to win the Challenge Tour’s Club Colombia Masters, defeating European Ryder Cup team member Edoardo Molinari by one shot.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-under 142, with 49 players making it through to the final 36 holes of play. Third-round play in the River Landing Open will begin at 7:30 AM on Friday morning at River Landing C.C. The tournament is open to the public and free of charge.