WESTFIELD CENTER: Two-time champion Justin Lower added a 6-under 64 in his second round Wednesday and is the leader in the clubhouse of the rain-plagued 100th Ohio Open at Westfield Country Club.
Torrential rain, brisk winds and occasional flashes of lightning caused suspension of the tournament for the second straight day with play expected to resume Thursday at 8 a.m. Tuesday’s opening round was suspended with approximately half the field of 273 still on the course. Those who were unable to finish on Tuesday returned Wednesday to complete their round. The second round began immediately after everyone had finished their first 18.
The same process will take place Thursday as many in field were called off the course in mid-afternoon.
Lower, who won added the second of his Open titles at Westfield in 2015 after winning at Fox Meadow and Weymouth in 2012, was one of those fortunate to complete both rounds.
“Fortunate is right,” said Lower, a former NAIA national champion at Malone University. “I was fortunate to finish before the weather hit.”
The Canal Fulton native, currently playing on the Korn Ferry Tour, opened play on Tuesday with a 5-under 65 on the South Course and chopped one stroke off par on the North in the second round. He birdied five of his first nine holes and added three more on the back for a 36-hole total of 11-under 129. Over the first two rounds Lower has 13 birdies, one eagle and four bogeys. Two of those bogeys came on Wednesday.
“They were both mental mistakes,” he said of his bogeys. “Both were from the middle of the fairway. One with a 9-iron and the other with a 60-degree wedge. I just wasn’t committed to the shot.”
Most of his birdies came on putts between 10 and 15 feet. No real long bombs and chip-ins. Just a steady stress-free round.
“All in all I played pretty well,” he said. “I thought I played the tougher holes pretty well. I mean I didn’t get myself into trouble.”
If Lower can hold on and win again he will become the seventh man to win three Ohio Open titles, a group that includes World Golf Hall-of-Famer Byron Nelson.
First-round leader Jake McBride, of Uniontown, who opened with a sparkling 8-under 62, stood at 2-under in the second round and must play 10 holes to complete his second round. Cade Breitenstine, a sophomore at Kent State from Akron, matched Lower’s 64 and was alone in third place at 7-under 133. Cameron Willis, of Eaton, O. was fourth at 134. Wills, a member of Wittenberg’s 2017 Division III national championship team and the 2012 Division II high school state champion, was alone in fourth place at 66-68-134.
The field will be cut to the low 60 scores and ties for the final round on Thursday. Tournament officials were hoping to be able to complete the tournament’s 54 holes.
THEY ARE ACES: Delaware’s Jeff Olson and Westerville’s Jacob English scored holes-in-one so far. Olson used a 9-iron to ace the 151-yard 13th on the South Course and English used a 4-iron to accomplish the feat on the 200-yard 15th on the North.
Tim is a Contributing Writer for the Northern Ohio PGA. Award-winning golf writer and sports reporter for the Plain Dealer, now retired. Contributor to the Akron Beacon Journal, Canton Repository, AP, other national publications.