WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Apparently Josh Teater likes his golf 36 holes at a time.
Using a bag from his college days at Morehead State, Teater sits atop the field at the halfway point of the Columbus sectional after a 9-under 63 at The Lakes Golf & Country Club that included a stretch of eight birdies in a row.
Having never before played in a major, Teater is now on the verge of playing his way into two of golf’s four biggest events within a two-week span. He was medalist at the 36-hole British Open qualifier on May 20, punching a ticket to Muirfield thanks to rounds of 64 and 69 at Gleneagles Country Club in Plano, Texas. Monday in Ohio, Teater started on the 10th hole and notched birdies on Nos. 16-18 during an outward 3-under 33 and then added five more on holes 1-5 while coming back in 30.
With 18 holes remaining, Teater leads by one shot over Doug LaBelle and Sang-Moon Bae, who both carded 8-under 64s at The Lakes, which played as the easier of the two courses used in Columbus during the morning wave. Of 22 players to shoot 68 or better, 18 did so at The Lakes, while only four rounds of 68 or better were carded at Brookside Golf & Country Club.
Of the many storylines emerging Monday, none was more intriguing than the plight of Scott Gardiner. The Aussie flew to Ohio Sunday night, but his clubs never arrived; as a result, he was forced to compile a makeshift collection of clubs from multiple staff members at The Lakes and never hit a single practice ball before teeing off. Gardiner took the bad break in stride, though, and actually appeared to benefit from his new equipment. Despite missing 10 of his last 11 cuts, the PGA Tour rookie fired a 7-under 65 that included six birdies and an eagle, putting himself firmly into contention heading into the afternoon session.
With many PGA Tour pros remaining in town after The Memorial Tournament to try their hand at qualifying, the Columbus site offers 15 berths into the season’s second major – more than any other single qualifying site. Among the leaders after 18 holes are one of the youngest – and one of the oldest – players in the 120-man field. Less than 24 hours ago, amateur Justin Thomas was helping Alabama to an NCAA team title; after flying from Georgia to Ohio last night, the sophomore carded a 5-under 67 during the morning session at The Lakes. While Thomas is just 20 years old, Davis Love III is attempting to tee it up in the U.S. Open for the 24th time in his career. At age 49, the former Ryder Cup captain began with a 4-under 68 Monday that featured five birdies and a bogey.