OTTAWA – GOLF – Bakersfield, California’s Manav Shah followed up a Thursday 65 with a second round 9-under 62 at Hylands Golf Club to get to 15-under and grab the 36-hole lead at the National Capital Open to Support Our Troops, the ninth event on the 2016 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.
Shah, a Mackenzie Tour rookie, sits 26th on the Order of Merit after earning his card at Q-School. Through eight events, the former UCLA Bruins golfer has made four cuts, carding two top-10 finishes.
After breaking his hand at Web.com Tour Q-School last year, Shah is just happy to be playing professional golf.
“I went through a pretty rigorous rehab to get my game back to where it needs to be. I felt it just snap, and then the doctors said don’t hit another golf ball,” Shah said of his injury, after playing through soreness in college.
“Growing up I’ve always wanted to turn pro so turning pro last year was a dream and then I just happened to break my hand at the end of last year so going through that whole process and being able to get back out here so soon and play so well so soon is kind of a blessing,” Shah said.
Shah’s Friday 62 was one shot off the course record, set by fellow Mackenzie Tour member Eugene Wong in 2014. The first-year pro is already feeling comfortable on Tour and looking to build on what has been a solid first season so far.
“It’s exactly what I thought professional golf would be,” the 24-year-old said of his first stint on Tour. “My game has felt great. It’s just a matter of putting up four good rounds.”
In Ottawa, Shah has felt it all come together.
“It was a good day. My levels of serenity were great. I was in a good place physically and mentally,” he said. “I was pretty calm out there and I just tried to play within myself and it added up to a pretty low number.”
To close out his near record-tying round, Shah drove the green on the 310-yard par-4 ninth hole, sticking his tee shot to within six feet before making the eagle putt to get to 15-under.
“I just kind of hit it as hard as I could and it went right at it. I couldn’t really see it from where I hit it, I just heard some claps and I got up there and it was six feet away,” he said of his final hole of the day. “It was pretty fun to walk up to.”
Two shots back of Shah in second place is Canadian Adam Cornelson, who went bogey-free for the second straight day to post a 64 and get to 13-under.
On the 17th hole, Cornelson rolled in a 30-footer to draw within two strokes of Shah heading into Saturday.
“It was a little cheeky, but I’ll take it,” Cornelson, who is fifth on the Order of Merit, said of his birdie.
After playing on the Web.com Tour last week and at the RBC Canadian Open on his previous off-week, Cornelson has learned how to stay consistent this season in what has been a breakthrough year.
“There’s so many guys out here that can put up a number that you have to just focus on your own game,” he said.
After a Thursday 65, Manav Shah opened his second round with birdies on seven of his first 12 holes before finishing birdie-eagle to get to 15-under.
Shah’s 36-hole total of 127 is the lowest 36-hole start in Mackenzie Tour history, besting a 128 total set by Jaco Ahlers (2013 SIGA Dakota Dunes Open) and Hugo Leon (2013 Wildfire Invitational).
The 24-year-old’s best finish of the season was a T4 thanks to a Sunday 64 at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel.
With a win, Shah could move from 26th to as far up as 3rd on the Order of Merit. A solo-second finish would move Shah as high as ninth on the Order of Merit.
29-year old Adam Cornelson carded a second consecutive bogey-free round Friday, posting a 7-under 64 to reach 13-under total.
Cornelson currently sits fifth on the Order of Merit and can move into second place with a win provided Taylor Moore finishes no better than a three-way tie for third.
Cornelson made the cut while playing on a sponsor exemption at the Web.com Tour’s Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper last week and finished T71.
Vincent, a rookie, has been in contention in five of eight tournaments this year. He started his Mackenzie Tour career by finishing T8-5th-T14-T6.
His 18-year-old brother Kieran is caddying for him this week at Hylands GC. Kieran, who Scott credits as the better golfer, travelled from Zimbabwe to North America to get ready to attend Liberty University on a golf scholarship in the fall.
“I got out here this morning and it was just a perfect day; no wind, good weather, perfect greens. It (the course) was kind of made to go right at everything.” – Manav Shah, who carded eight birdies and one eagle against just one bogey to post a Friday 62.
“I was back at home last week and it was great to kind of kick back with the family and not worry about grinding on the golf course so I’m feeling refreshed this week. I’m happy with my game. It seems like after I take a break my game gets better. When I play too much I get some bad habits. It seems like I just go back to the basics and hit it good.” –Corey Conners, who sits at 8-under, on the challenge of playing on both the Mackenzie Tour and PGA TOUR Latinoamerica this year.
- Weather: 29 degrees, partly cloudy, winds at 8-10 km/h.
- 74 players made the 36-hole cut with scores of 3-under 139 or better.
- Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Thomas Baik is looking for the first top-10 finish of his Mackenzie Tour career. He sits 9-under into the weekend at solo fourth.
- Zimbabwe’s Scott Vincent carded a bogey-free 7-under 64 to get to 10-under through 36 holes.
- Manav Shah’s 9-under 62 is the low round of the tournament so far.
- Adam Cornelson is the only bogey-free player through 36 holes.
- Click here for boxscores.