DALLAS – Ryan Grider started the second round of the 110th Texas Amateur on Friday seven shots off the lead. The 20-year-old Baylor junior from Lewisville went out in the first group of the day and proceeded to make an eagle on his first hole.
Suddenly he was five shots back. Then things got better.
Grider birdied three of his next six holes and three of his final five. Long, straight drives and crisp iron shots into the Blue Course at Dallas Athletic Club’s perfect bentgrass greens gave Grider continuous looks at birdie. He made six of them – plus the eagle – and posted a scintillating 7-under-par 65.
When he left the golf course for day, he was tied for the lead at 8-under par.
Then things got even better than that.
As the afternoon winds kicked up to around 20-25 mph, the players who started Round 2 at or near the top of the leaderboard struggled to break par. The Blue Course’s tree-lined fairways seemed to shrink a bit as the south wind shoved any shot not hit perfectly flush more offline than normal. Most of the players in the afternoon wave backpedaled, which made Grider’s 8-under 136 total score better and better as the day wore on.
Grider’s total score held up throughout the afternoon wave. He holds a one-shot lead over Addison’s Chris Wheeler.
“I got off to a good start,” said Grider, the 2014 Veritex Bank Byron Nelson Junior champion. “I hit it great all day. I gave myself so many opportunities for birdie. Fortunately I made a couple of them. Mostly it was great ball-striking today.”
It was that way from the beginning. Grider crushed his opening drive 368 yards on the par-5 10th hole. From 120 yards, he threw a dart to five feet and drained the eagle putt that jumpstarted his round.
“The course is great,” he said. “Off the tee it’s tight in areas, but it still allows you to hit driver. It’s not necessarily a long course, so I’m able to have a lot of wedges in and have a lot of looks at birdie. The greens are perfect. They are rolling so good.”
Wheeler, the 18-hole leader, played in the afternoon wave on Friday. He and the others who teed off late battled the steady high winds and strong gusts that made DAC play tougher than the day before. With five birdies and six bogeys, Wheeler fought his way to a round of 1-over 73. He sits at 7-under 137 for the championship.
“The course played much harder today,” said Wheeler, a 36-year-old mid-amateur. “I don’t know how to quantify it. It wasn’t the same golf course. Yesterday was just ‘point and shoot’ with no wind and receptive greens. Today you’re playing away from holes, and you’re lucky to hit some fairways depending on how much the wind was moving your ball.”
Wheeler said he wasn’t scoreboard watching prior to getting the course. When he heard about Grider’s 65, he was impressed.
“That’s a really good round,” Wheeler said. “I don’t know how much wind he had, but that’s a great score no matter what time he played.”
Two shots behind Grider at 5-under 139 is Wes Artac. The 2018 Texas Tech grad went bogey-free on his final nine holes to shoot 1-under 71 in the second round. Three players share fourth place at 4-under 140 overall. That group includes DAC member and part of the 2017 National Champion Oklahoma Sooners team Blaine Hale, who shot 1-under 71 on Friday afternoon. Jackson Markham from Dallas and Paul Gonzalez from Arlington also are at 4-under overall.
“I would’ve liked to have played this morning, that’s for sure,” Hale said. “The wind got up there and never came down. I caught some gusts, but that’s part of playing in Texas. You just have to deal with it.”
Through 36 holes, there are 10 players under par for the championship. Seven of them are within five shots of Grider, setting the stage for a competitive finish over the weekend. Sixty-two players made the 36-hole cut at 4-over 148.
The third round of the 110th Texas Amateur begins Saturday at 8 a.m. back at DAC’s Jack Nicklaus-designed Blue Course. For more information on this championship, click here.