University of Illinois sophomore Jackson Buchanan (Conner Penfold photo)
, who recently completed his freshman season at Illinois, remains the leader halfway through the Dogwood Invitational after a second-round 68 on Thursday at Druid Hills Golf Club left him at 10-under for the tournament.
“Today was completely different,” said Buchanan who played high school golf at Buford High School in suburban Atlanta. “Yesterday, I might have mishit just a few shots. Today, I was in the woods left and right, punching out, saving par. It was a grind today.”
He holds just a one-shot advantage over Connor Creasy
and Carson Bacha
, who grabbed the lead early in the afternoon and stayed atop the scoreboard until Buchanan completed his second round.
Buchanan, who grew up in Buford, Ga., didn't take up golf until the eighth grade. He played the hilly par-72 Druid Hills course for the first time on Tuesday in the Am-Am tournament and thought he might struggle on several holes where hitting a draw is the favorable play. Buchanan hit a lot of “pure” shots in the first round, but had to grind out pars on Thursday due to errant shots off the tee.
RELATED: Round 1 Recap
He got some positive momentum going when he drained a 15-foot downhill putt for par on the ninth hole. He would proceed to make four straight birdies on the back nine which made his round what it was.
“On 10, 11 and 12, I made 6-footers,” Buchanan noted, “and 13 was a big one.”
Creasy and Bacha, who are both at 9-under going into the third round on Friday, are set to play in the final pairing with Buchanan.
Connor Creasy tees off on 18 during round two of the Dogwood Invitational. (Conner Penfold photo)
Creasy, a rising senior at Georgia, followed his opening-round 69 with a 6-under 66 as one of the early starters Thursday to climb the leaderboard. Bacha, who will be a senior next year at Auburn, also gained a share of the lead at one point during the day after carding a four-under 68.
Creasy was the first player Thursday to get to the clubhouse at 9-under. His second-round scorecard included seven birdies and a single bogey at the par-4 10th hole. Creasy made three consecutive birdies on the 11th, 12th and 13th holes.
“I hit it pretty solid and just gave myself a lot of looks,” he said. “The birdies I made were all inside 15 feet. I think I made all but one putt I had that was inside 10 feet. Out here, that’s what it takes to have a good solid round.”
In the opening round, Creasy made four birdies and one bogey on the way to his 69. He has played well at Druid Hills in the past, finishing eighth in the 2019 Dogwood and 12th in last year’s tournament.
Creasy likes the way the course looks to his eye. “I’m a visual player. I like to draw it and fade it,” he said. “There’s doglegs left and right, and that’s good for me. The greens are nice, too, so if you get the putter hot, it’s a fun course to play.”
Carson Bacha hits driver at the 15th during the first round of the Dogwood Invitational. (Conner Penfold photo)
Bacha got off to a slow start for the second straight day, but again he recovered nicely and finds himself in contention for the win halfway through the tournament.
He parred the first hole on Thursday but made a double-bogey at the par-4 second. Following two pars and a birdie, Bacha made bogey at the sixth but then proceeded to close his front nine strong with a birdie, a par and then an eagle-3 at the ninth when he rolled in a 70-foot putt from the front of the green after reaching it in two to end up shooting 35 on his front nine.
“I managed to stay patient,” Bacha said. “This course offers a lot of birdies, so you know they’re gonna come. I hit every single green the rest of the day after the bogey at six, so I hit the ball solid and took my chances when they came.
“That back nine I played good yesterday and felt comfortable going into it today.”
Bacha is 7-under on the back side at Druid Hills over the first two days. He had three birdies and six pars on the back on Thursday after having four birdies and five pars in the first round.
“I burned a lot of edges coming in, hit a lot of good putts, but just didn’t get a lot to drop,” he added. “I was able to knock it on 18 in two and lipped out another eagle putt from about 30 feet. But I’m excited about the next couple of days, just looking to play some good golf.”
Just behind the two SEC golfers is Clemson’s Carter Pendley
who will begin Friday’s round at 8-under after carding a bogey-free 67 in the second round that included a birdie at the par-5 finishing hole.
Another Georgia Bulldog, Nicolas Cassidy
, is fifth after two rounds at 7-under par. He posted a 4-under 68 on Thursday with six birdies and two bogeys.
Cassidy is tied with Wake Forest player Scotty Kennon
who also is 7-under after posting a 2-under 70 on Thursday while closing with a birdie at the par-5 18th. He also birdied the par-5 ninth after making an eagle-3 there in the first round.
Both Pendley and Cassidy have contended at The Dogwood in the past and could go low in either of the next two rounds.
Pendley, a native of Dalton, Ga., actually competed in the tournament prior to going to Clemson as a freshman in 2019. Considered one of the top recruits in the country, he tied for fifth that summer at 15-under.
Cassidy finished second at Druid Hills just last year when he made a serious charge in the final round to finish tied for second. He shot a 62 over the closing 18 that included a 28 on the front nine when he recorded birdies on the first five holes.
, who held the first-round lead with Buchanan after carding a 66 on Wednesday, remained at 6-under after posting an even-par 72 in the second round. The Emory University golfer is making his first-ever appearance at The Dogwood.
Klutznick is among a group of six players who are tied for seventh at 6-under. This grouping also includes Georgia Tech’s Bartley Forrester
and Southern California’s Alex Ross
who shot 57 in the third round of the 2019 Dogwood Invitational to match the lowest-ever score recorded in competitive golf.
The field will be cut to the low 40 and ties plus anyone within 10 shots of the lead prior to the final round on Saturday.
The Defending Champion:
Last year’s tournament champion is nowhere near Druid Hills Golf Club this week. Australian Louis Dobbelaar who turned professional late last year is currently playing on the Latin American Tour. And, he is actually in action this week, too. Dobbelaar was tied for 12th following the first round of the Fortox Columbia Classic after shooting a 65 on Thursday. He has only played in two other tour events to date and missed the cut in both. Dobbelaar finished tied for second at the tour’s qualifying school last November.
Long in the Tooth:
The Dogwood field is primarily made up of current collegiate players coming off their college seasons, but some noteworthy older players are competing against the younger golfers here this week.
Atlanta’s Billy Mitchell
is entered in the event this week. Mitchell, currently sixth in the AmateurGolf.com Senior Rankings, finished as the low amateur last summer at the U.S Senior Open held at Omaha (Neb.) Country Club. The tournament was his 18th USGA championship.
Through two rounds here, Mitchell is tied for 88th at 148 (75-73). He has won several big amateur championships here in Georgia.
Also here this week are Garrett Rank
and Stephen Behr
, the sixth- and seventh-ranked players, respectively, in the U.S. mid-amateur rankings.
Rank, a hockey official in the NHL, settled for a 73 in round two on Thursday and fell to 4-under-par overall after shooting 5-under 67 in the first round to trail the overnight leaders by a shot. He is now tied for 18th.
Behr is tied for 37th at 2-under (72-70) and also will have a chance to make the cut when he plays Friday’s third round.
Father and Son:
Auburn’s Carson Bacha has enjoyed his week thus far at Druid Hills. Yes, it’s largely because he’s playing good golf and goes into the third round as one of the top contenders for the championship.
But, the York, Pa., native is also having fun spending quality time with his dad who is serving as his caddy during this week’s tournament.
Bacha said Thursday he actually can’t remember the last time his father caddied for him in competition.
“He hasn’t been on the bag in a while, it’s probably been two or three years,” Bacha said. “My mom does a lot of the caddying for me, surprisingly. She enjoys it. I enjoy it with both of them. It’s great to have them out here, getting one-on-one time with them. It’s nice to catch up with them, spend time with them after being away another year at college.”
His mom usually uses a push-cart to get the clubs around the course when she works as the caddy, but Bacha said his dad is lugging the sticks around on his back this week as they walk the hilly terrain.
“It was his choice,” he said with a chuckle.
The first three days are super long days here at The Dogwood. The first tee times in each of the first three rounds are set for 8 a.m. with the final tee time scheduled for 3:20 p.m.
The field consisted of 117 players at the start, but one player was disqualified on Wednesday.
It was taking approximately 4 hours, and 40 minutes for players to complete 18 holes on Thursday. Thus, the final putt was holed around 8 p.m. or 12 hours after the first tee shot was struck in the morning.