The 22-year-old former amateur star tamed the 6,859-yard Circle C Ranch for a 5-under 67 and finds himself at 11-under 133 through 36 holes, three shots clear of Calgarys Wes Heffernan. Americans Jason Bohn, Steve Runge and Jeff Quinney are four strokes back.
Following play Friday, 71 players had shot 1-over or better to make the cut and will play for the $100,000 total purse over the weekend.
In addition to Hearn and Heffernan, three other Canadians are in the top-10. Winnipeg natives Rob McMillan and Todd Fanning, as well as Brian McCann of Mississauga, are tied for sixth at 6-under. A total of 15 Canadians will see action on the weekend, a fact made even more impressive considering only 38 of the 144 golfers in the starting field hail from Canada.
Craig Matthew of Ile Bizard, QC was the lone Canadian to win a 2001 Tour event when he captured the Ontario Open Heritage Classic last July.
Hearn, a former member of the Canadian World Junior Team who also represented Canada at the Four Nations Cup last year, had a grin from ear-to-ear as he came off the course Friday.
I am pretty excited right now, I worked hard all winter and its nice to see it paying off, he said after hitting 13 of 18 greens in regulation and playing the par-3s at 3-under. I still think I left a few shots out there, but I made a lot of putts.
Perhaps the most telling sign of Hearns confidence level came just past the midway point of the round. After struggling to a double-bogey on the previous hole, he stepped to the tee at the par-3 13th and almost holed out before tapping in a three-footer for birdie.
That shot was big for me, it just kept things going. Ill try to eliminate the mistakes on the weekend, have some fun and see where I am. The key for me is to keep doing my thing.
Last season, the former University of Wyoming star, who advanced to the second stage of PGA Tour Qualifying this past fall, made the cut in both Tour events he entered, including a fifth-place finish at the season'ending Bayer Championship. On that day, his first win as a pro was well within reach until Bohn, playing two groups in front of Hearn, snuffed out those hopes with a 13-under 58.
Gee, I remember that like it was yesterday, laughed Hearn when asked about that final day in Sarnia, ON. I begin the day one shot in front of Jason, shoot 67 and lose by eight. Something on the leaderboard didnt look right as we played, and then I realized what it was. He was 9-under on the day through seven holes. It was right then I knew I was playing the rest of the day for fun.
David Hearn hopes to do much of the same this weekend, only this time with a much different result.
Full-field scores from the Texas Challenge