When it comes to US PGA Tour careers, you won’t find two on more opposite ends of the spectrum than those of Brian Gay and Austin Cook. Gay, 45, has won four times and is making the 523rd start of his career at the RSM Classic, while Cook, 26, is making just his 14th career start, and the fourth of his rookie campaign. After two rounds at Sea Island Golf Club in St Simons Island, Georgia, the veteran sits one shot back of the rookie, who has the solo lead at 14-under 128.
Gay’s round began at the par-4 10th of the club’s Seaside course, and he went to work in the windy conditions early, making four birdies on his first seven holes en route to a front nine, three-under 32. He backed it up with another 32 on the home nine, this one bogey-free for a six-under 64 to get to 13-under 129.
“Tough day today I thought, but I was able to hit a number of greens and stay out of trouble and the putter worked well,” Gay said.
Through 36 holes, the University of Florida alum has made just one bogey, and has had every facet of his game working. He ranks T-5th in the field in driving accuracy, T-14th in greens in regulation and 3rd in strokes gained: putting.
“I’ve kept the ball in front of me, there’s a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing. I haven’t had to make too many saves, and I’ve putted well.”
After exploding for three victories between 2008 and 2009, Gay went through a bit of a dry spell, not winning again until the 2013 Humana Challenge. He heads to the weekend in good position to earn the fifth victory of his career, and hopefully end another drought, this one nearly five years long.
Cook, who also began his round on the par-4 10th of the Seaside course, posted an eight-under 62 to pair with his first-round six-under 66 on the Plantation course. He’s tied for first in the field in birdies with 14, and has not made a single bogey this week. The former University of Arkansas All-American is coming off his best season on the Web.com Tour, having finished inside the top three twice and inside the top 10 eight times. Cook has made every cut in three events so far this year on the PGA Tour, finishing T-25 in the Sanderson Farms Championship, T-20 at the Shriners for Hospitals Children Open and T-50 in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba.
Three players sit five back in a tie for third at nine-under 133, including Taiwan’s C.T. Pan, who carded a seven-under 65 on the Plantation course. He’s joined by Vaughn Taylor and Chris Kirk, who followed his first-round 62 with an even par 70 on the Seaside course.
In his first start back from injury, Brandt Snedeker has shot matching 67s to get to eight-under 134, six off the lead. The eight-time tour winner not only looks to be back in top form already, but feels pain-free as well.
“No pain at all,” Snedeker said. “I’ve been shocked at how good my body has held up. My game’s in a really good place, my mind’s in a really great place because I’m probably the most excited guy about being here on the weekend, and I’m feeling fresh and can’t wait to get after it.”
Also at eight-under is South Africa’s Brendon de Jonge, who will play the weekend for just the second time in his last 20 combined starts on the PGA and Web.com Tours.
The only Kiwi in the field was Danny Lee, who shot 70-72 to miss the cut by three strokes.