PGA TOUR Canada – Baker takes two-shot lead at halfway point

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PGA TOUR Canada tee marker

DOTHAN, Alabama — Bennett Baker seized the lead at RTJ Golf Trail at Highland Oaks on Wednesday after posting 68 for the second consecutive round at the Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament. With two rounds remaining, Baker (8-under 136) holds a two-stroke advantage over Maximilian Mehles (6-under 138).

Starting on the front nine for Wednesday morning’s second round, Baker bogeyed the second hole but bounced back with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to make the turn in 35. On the back nine, he birdied three of his first five holes before adding another on the 18th hole in a back-nine 33.

“I’ve just been trying to stay patient and take advantage of my opportunities when I get them,” Baker said. “There are definitely opportunities out there, but there are also spots where you have to be conservative and not challenge the pins; just try to make pars on certain holes. I think I’ve done a good job of that.”

Despite shooting 68 for the second consecutive day, Baker said the golf course didn’t play the same as it did Tuesday.

“It was totally different,” Baker said. “The numbers were the same, but I felt like both rounds were completely different. I’m just going to stick to my plan and keep doing what I’m doing.”

When the morning wave ended, Baker held a four-shot lead over his closest pursuer, but Mehles carded the round of the day and matched the low round of the tournament, with a 5-under 67 in the afternoon. Mehles birdied three of his first five holes and played a bogey-free back nine to improve on his opening-round 71.

“I gave myself more chances to make birdies than [Tuesday],” Mehles said. “Yesterday was very solid. I hit a couple good putts, but I had a few mistakes too. Today was more flawless—just very solid.”

Cole Madey and first-round leader Keenan Huskey are tied for third, at 4-under. Madey responded from an opening-round 71 with a second-round 69 and attributed the improvement to his putter.

“I made a few putts in the 10- to 20-foot range,” Madey said. “My lag putting was really good—putting over slopes. Pretty similar to yesterday but kept it pretty stress-free.”

Huskey posted 1-over 73 Wednesday after his 5-under 67 set the tone on the opening day.

“I got a little loose off the tee today, so we’ll work on that and we’ll be good to go [Thursday],” Huskey said.

Matt Wilson and Logan Lockwood round out the top five, each posting 3-under 141 after two rounds.

Did you know Maximilian Mehles is a two-time German individual champion and has represented the German National Team in six European Team Championships and two World Cups?

Key Information

How the Tournament Works
Ninety-nine players entered this tournament, and there are 97 remaining. Below is a breakdown of the various Mackenzie Tour membership statuses available this week.

Finish Position
Status
Medalist
Exempt membership for the 2021 season
2nd through 6th (no ties)

Exempt through the reshuffle, which will occur approximately halfway through the season
7th through 25th (plus ties)
Conditional membership

This is a 72-hole, no-cut event. There will be playoffs, if necessary, for the medalist position and for the sixth and final position available.

Players in this week’s field come from eight countries (Canada, Chinese Taipei, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the United States)

Bennett Baker played collegiately at Florida State University, from 2015 to 2019, and his best finish was a victory at the 2018 USA Individual Tournament as a junior.

Maximilian Mehles played collegiately at Kentucky and turned professional in 2020 after graduating from the school.

Cole Madey played collegiately at UCLA, from 2015 to 2018, earning second-team All-Pac-12 honors during his final season. He won the 2018 Sahalee Players Championship, which annually showcases the best amateur golfers in the Pacific Northwest.
Matt Wilson played college golf at Cal State Fullerton from 2015 to 2019 and helped the Titans capture the 2019 Big West title by taking medalist honors individually. In October 2020, Wilson played in the PGA TOUR’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and shot a second-round 69.

Quotable from the Players

“I hit a lot of good irons out there, especially in the beginning. It was a bit breezy, but I gave myself a lot of good looks and took advantage of a couple on the front. And then I just stayed patient and rolled two putts in on the back.” -Maximilian Mehles

“I played better today, score-wise, but I think it was playing a little more difficult. The pins seemed to be up on ridges instead of in bowls.” -Cole Madey

“It was playing tough. The pins were a little bit harder, and it was way windier this morning. There was a little stretch where I got loose and let a few things slip, but I got it back together the last few holes and kept a decent round going.” -Keenan Huskey

“It was just harder to get the ball closer to the hole today because of the wind. It was more difficult to hit it in the right sections of the greens. That makes it harder to make birdies and two-putts as well.” -Keenan Huskey

“I honestly expected the greens to be a little bit more firm because that’s what it was like last year. I was actually surprised with how the green held my longer irons today.” – Maximilian Mehles

“I haven’t played much. I graduated last year and then got conditional status but decided to give that status back and try again this year to earn full status. I haven’t played much golf. Whenever I practice or play with friends, I feel pretty good. I was just excited to come out and play some competitive golf again.” -Maximilian Mehles

Second-Round Weather: Sunny, with a high of 75. Wind SSE at 6-12 mph.