5 ams in Top 10 at Virginia State Open
MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (July 19, 2013) –– Defending champion and co-first round leader Jay Woodson of Powhatan shot a 3-under-par 68 in the second round of the State Open of Virginia Friday and separated himself from the rest of the field.

Woodson, 31, who plays primarily on the developmental NGA Tour, completed two tours of the 7,026-yard, par-71 Independence Golf Club layout at 9-under 133 and is four strokes clear of amateur Chris O’Neill, 20, of Glen Allen.

PGA assistant professional Robert Taylor, 23, of Zion Crossroads (Charlottesville area) and PGA professional John O’Leary, 38, of Reston are five strokes back at 4-under 138 after each shot 67. Amateurs Vincent Nadeau (69) of Gordonsville, Jimmy Delp (71) of Arlington and Matthew Brittain (71) of Abingdon are at 3-under 139.

First-round co-leader Mike Gooden, PGA professional at Lakeview Golf Course in Harrisonburg, followed his opening 65 with 76 Friday.

Eighteen players are in red figures through 36 holes. For the second year in a row, the cut came at six over par. That’s a 148 aggregate this year since the 13th hole has been converted to a par 4 from its usual par 5 and has played as the toughest hole in the championship.

Woodson has carded five consecutive rounds in the 60s counting last year’s State Open. Playing in the afternoon Friday, he shot 4-under 32 on the front nine and reached 11 under for the event with a birdie at No. 13 but bogeyed the next two holes and missed a good birdie try at 17.

“I started off really well. I hit a lot of wedges close on the front nine,” said Woodson, whose four birdie putts were from inside 6 feet each time.

The back nine was just the opposite on the greens. He made nothing.

“The greens are pretty bumpy right now. It was hard to pick a line and trust it,” he said. “I felt like I gave three or four shots back. You know you are going to have nines like this in a 72-hole [championship]. I didn’t do anything crazy. … I’m almost where I should be for 36 holes. Not quite. We’ll just go from there.”

O’Neill, a Deep Run High School graduate, played No. 1 on the University of Michigan golf team this past season as a freshman. The past two-time Richmond Times-Dispatch All-Metro golfer of the year has a simple desire as he works through the busiest part of his summer golf schedule.

“I want to win. I haven’t won anything in a long time. I feel like I need to win,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill teed off in the morning wave when the greens were smoother.

“[Thursday] I had so many lip-outs. I was really glad to get off early (8:15 starting time) and play without the footprints on the green,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill birdied three of the first four holes and made the turn four under for the day. Three bogeys and a birdie in a five-hole stretch midway through the back nine curtailed momentum, but he got it back with two monster shots and a chip-in from about 10 feet for eagle on the par-5 17th hole.

“To make eagle on 17 was huge. I wanted to get to six under. That was kind of the goal to get back in the [championship],” he said.

This is O’Neill’s fourth event in four weeks. O’Neill was a semifinalist in the Richmond Golf Association Amateur, missed match play by a stroke at the VSGA Amateur and was third in the Eastern Amateur after being the 36-hole leader.

“I’ve been hitting it so well lately. I’ve got a lot of good mojo coming in so I’ll try to keep it going and hope it stays through the weekend and U.S. Amateur qualifying (Monday),” he said.

As it was in Thursday’s first round, the morning wave produced most of the low scores. Past VSGA Amateur and VSGA golfer of the year Scott Shingler of Haymarket shot the low round of the day, a 6-under 65. That followed an opening-day 75 in which he hit a ball out of bounds, had a couple of unplayable lies and finished with a triple bogey.

“The right person showed up today,” Shingler said. “After shooting myself in the foot [Thursday], basically my goal was to shoot three rounds in the 60s for the rest of the week, and I have two days left.”

Taylor, who works at Glenmore Country Club in Charlottesville, is a December graduate from the golf management program at North Carolina State University. He grew up in Charlottesville and attended Albemarle High along with last year’s State Open runner-up Weston Eklund. Baseball was Taylor’s game until he went to N.C. State. This is his second State Open and first as a professional.

Taylor, who was in the first group off the 10th tee and recorded six birdies and two bogeys.

“I’m playing solid golf and giving myself a lot of looks,” he said.

ABOUT THE State Open of Virigina

The Championship is a 54-hole, stroke play event with the field limited to 144 contestants (69 eligible Professionals, 69 eligible Amateurs, the Defending Champion, and 5 Open Qualifier spots). There will be a cut to the low 60 players and ties after 36 holes. Open to VSGA members of all ages. Participants must hold an active GHIN number issued by a licensed VSGA Member Club in good standing.

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