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BLAINE, Minn. – Par is not always your friend.
Not at the 3M Open at the TPC Twin Cities speedway, which is running like the Indy 500 as players maximize the RPMs in search of red numbers to keep up with all others. With scoring conditions on the optimal side – manageable wind, course a touch on the soft side, generous fairways, getable pins and plenty of wedges in hand for approach shots – a long stretch of pars tests the patience and does little to boost the scorecard.
Shoot even-par 71 here and you’re getting lapped.
“You only have one option. You know you’re going to have to shoot a good round or else you’re going to get left behind,” said Bo Hoag, who followed up his opening-round 67 with a 66 on Friday. “There’s no real guessing game. Just got to be pretty aggressive with the scoring clubs in your hands and try to make some birdies out there.
“Played a good round yesterday and it’s nice to get back out and put another one with it. Sometimes it’s easy to kind of back off and just maybe play a little more conservatively when you get off to a good start, but I kind of kept the pedal down today and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities.”
Hoag, who shot four rounds in the 60s in last week’s Barbasol Championship to end up in a tie for 11th, stands at 9 under through 36 holes and shares the clubhouse lead with Chez Reavie (67), Roger Sloan (69) and Jhonattan Vegas (69). Rickie Fowler and Troy Merritt, who each shot 64 in the first round, are at 8 under through six holes.
The cut currently is hovering at 2 under.
“It’s hard, it’s really hard, but at the end of the day, and especially coming off a good round, you’ve just got to try to piece another good round together,” Vegas said of needing to go low to keep up with the pace car. “Obviously, the conditions are not super easy, you still have to hit really good shots around this place.”
For the most part, Vegas did just that. The two-time PGA Tour winner reached 11 under before his errant approach from 193 yards using a 6-iron on his final hole wound up in native area and he needed to take a penalty drop and made double.
“Should have hit a cut to hold it into the wind and decided to hit it straight and kind of came across and hit it long left and I was completely dead from there,” Vegas said. “It’s golf, sometimes you’ve got to put those behind and focus on what’s coming. I played solidly. I can’t really complain too much.”
Sloan wasn’t complaining too much after making his only bogey of the week on the par-5 18th when his second shot wound up in the water. In fact, by his way of thinking, it could prove beneficial.
“Tough to end with a bogey, but at the same time it was nice to get that bogey out of the way. We don’t have to think about being bogey-free anymore, so it sets us up for a good week,” he said. “I didn’t really think about it until my caddie and I were walking off the green. He just said, ‘Well, we don’t have to worry about going bogey free anymore,’ and it kind of loosens you up a little bit. So, maybe donating a shot back there at the last could help us play a little bit more freely on the weekend.”