Andrew Putnam, Harry Higgs and first-round leader Cole Hammer find themselves tied atop the leaderboard in the RSM Classic.
Higgs (pictured) recorded a bogey-free, 7-under-par 63 on the Seaside Course, where Hammer shot 66, while Putnam carded a 7-under 65 on the Plantation Course at Sea Island Resort in St. Simons Island, Ga.
Every player in the field played one round on the Seaside Course and one on the Plantation Course in the first two rounds, and after the cut was made on Friday afternoon, the last two rounds will be played exclusively on the Seaside Course.
“It’s in the back of your mind,” Higgs said of having only conditional status on the PGA Tour this season. “It always is for almost everybody except for some of the top players in the world. But it can motivate you to work a little bit harder, make better decisions. The goal is to not really have to worry about it come March or as early as possible, right?
“I would like to continue to play the golf that I’m playing now. It doesn’t happen forever, you’re going to have poor days and whatnot.”
Higgs, whose only pro victories came in the 2019 Price Cutter Charity Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour and the 2018 Diners Club Peru Open on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica, started at No. 10 and made three birdies on the back nine and four more on the front while posting a 36-hole score of 12-under 130.
Hammer, who is playing this week on a Sponsor’s Exemption, opened with a 64 on the Plantation Course and matched two-round Higgs’ total by bouncing back from three bogeys on the front nine with three of his seven birdies in a bogey-free back side.
“I was a little bit depressed after (bogeys) on No. 7 and 8,” said Hammer, a rookie who missed the cut in six straight events on the PGA Tour earlier this year after helping Texas capture the NCAA Championship. “I put myself in great position to make birdies and I walked out with two bogeys, and that’s almost inexcusable.
“But coming back firing on No. 9 and then making a birdie on 10, erasing those bogeys on two of the tougher holes right away, that was huge for momentum and for my confidence.”
Putnam, whose only PGA Tour victory came in the 2018 Barracuda Championship, reeled off four straight of his seven birdies through the eighth hole while finishing on the front nine, and had sole possession of the lead until making his only bogey while finishing at No. 9.
The former Pepperdine star also shot 65 in the first round on the Seaside Course.
“My driving accuracy’s been probably the best in my career this last year,” said Putnam, who also won twice on what is now the Korn Ferry Tour. “The putting is back to being pretty good, like it normally is, and my irons this week have been pretty sharp. Pretty much every part of my game has been pretty good right now, so it’s a fun time to play golf.
“I didn’t really miss too many shots. I hit a lot of close iron shots and just played really great golf.”
Sahith Theegala of Chino Hills and Pepperdine made three of his eight birdies in a row down the stretch in a 63 on the Seaside Course and is one stroke behind in a tie for fourth with Joel Dahmen, who had four birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 64 on the Plantation Course, where Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita had six birdies and a single bogey in his 67 to gain a share of fourth.
Seung-Yul Noh of South Korea collected five straight birdies on the front nine en route to a bogey-free 64 on the Plantation Course and is two shots back in a tie for seventh with Kevin Streelman, who had seven birdies and a single bogey in a 64 on the Seaside Course, David Lingmerth of Sweden, who made six birdies against one bogey in a 65 on the Seaside, and Callum Tarren of England, who birdied the last two holes for a 68 on the Plantation.
This is the final event of the Fall portion of the 2022-23 PGA Tour season, which will continue with the Sentry Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, on Jan. 5-8.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html