Three past champions lead a bunched leader board in the State Open of Virginia at Independence Golf Club, but not every player finished Saturday’s second round.
Thunder and lightning in the area caused a suspension of play around 5:30 p.m. with a quarter of the field still on the course. A rainbow appeared but couldn’t mitigate the forecast of dangerous weather and play was called for the day around 7:15.
Second-round play resumes Sunday morning at 7:30. The final round will start approximately 30 minutes after everyone finishes with a double-tee (1st and 10th) start.
Evan Beck, winner of the 2010 Open at Independence by a stroke in 72-hole, record-tying fashion, is on the 18th hole at 9 under par.
Defending champion Mark Lawrence Jr., the only professional in the top 10, concluded his round shortly before the first suspension. He posted a 3-under-par 68 for a 36-hole total of 8-under 134.
Jack Montague, the 2019 winner, stands at 6 under with two holes to play.
The three were part of a quartet of players who began Saturday’s round chasing first-round leader Robb Kinder. He started at 6 under but dropped two shots and has three holes to play.
Collegians Ross Funderburke (Furman) and Connor Johnson (Virginia Tech) and mid-amateur Kyle Bailey moved up the leader board during the early wave and into contention as the day wore on. All are tied for fourth at 137.
Funderburke posted the lowest score in the morning, a 66. He logged four birdies and an eagle on the par-5 17th against a lone bogey.
“I was a little better at everything [today]. Nothing was really great. I hate to say that because I shot 5 under, but I just putted a little better, chipped a little better,” Funderburke said. “I started on the back and hit three greens on that side and shot 2 under, which was weird, but whatever gets the job done, I guess.”
Bailey, 33, shot a 67. He carded six birdies, including three in a row on Nos. 14-16, and two bogeys.
“I just kept the big numbers off the card. I kept it in front of me, no three-putts, and I had a couple of really good up and downs. Pretty simple, boring golf,” Bailey said. ““I feel like I’ve been playing pretty good all season. I just need to keep it together, like I did today.”
An eagle on the par-5 eighth hole highlighted Johnson’s 68. He birdied the first, fourth and 17th holes. His only blemish was a bogey at No. 15.
Alex Price, the fourth player who started the second round tied for second, returned 1 over on Saturday and is tied for seventh with Sam Jung and Kinder at 138.
Price had 15 pars, a birdie and two bogeys after chalking up nine birdies in Friday’s first round. Jung triple bogeyed the par-5 fourth hole and bogeyed the 11th but countered the miscues with five birdies in a round of 70.
A gusting wind dried out the greens and made them a bit firmer according to Lawrence.
“The wind makes it more difficult although it did help with the heat,” he said.
His take on the round: “I’d really like to do a little bit better…the two best shots I’ve hit all tournament were on 9 and 14. I hit two 5-irons that I just flushed right where I wanted to hit them and on nine it plugged in the lip of the bunker and then 14 it bounced over the green.”
He chipped in for birdie on 14, and with the help of beneficial ruling, made par on No. 9.
“At least I got a shot out of one of them, and getting a 3 [on 9] instead of 4 is good.”