Thatcher Leads Play Halted

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Roland Thatcher fired a 6-under 66 Friday and leads by one stroke with second-round play at the Envirocare Utah Classic suspended due to darkness. Thatcher stands at 11-under-par 133.
 
Play was halted during the second round at Willow Creek Country Club due to thunder and lightning in the area. The 70-minute delay pushed some afternoon tee times back leading to the overnight suspension. The second round will resume at 9:45 AM (ET). The cut line is projected to be 2-under-par 142.
 
Jeff Freeman, who was one of three overnight leaders, carded a 3-under 69 and is tied for second place with Scott Gump at 10-under-par 134.
 
Thatcher opened the day two strokes behind the leaders, but made his move quickly. He eagled the par-5 first to climb to 7-under. However, he could not continue that momentum as he bogeyed the next.
 
'I made a putt I had no business making to start the day,' said Thatcher, who drained a 40-footer on the first. 'That first one was stealing a shot, but then I gave it back. Walking off the third hole, I was right about where I figured I'd be.'
 
The 2002 Monterey Peninsula Classic winner got back on track with birdies at the par-3 seventh and par-4 ninth to make the turn at minus-8.
 
On the back side, Thatcher birdied Nos. 10 and 12, both par-5s. He again stumbled to a bogey at the 15th to drop back to minus-9. However, he took advantage of the final par-5, No. 17, as he eagled that to take the lead.
 
'I wish there were more par-5s out here,' said Thatcher, who is 10-under on the five par-5s through two rounds. 'The putter bailed me out a few times today and I swung the club pretty well. Mentally I made a few mistakes but overall they didn't hurt me as much as they could have.'
 
Gump vaulted into second place with a course-record tying 9-under 63 on Friday. Mark Hensby first set the mark in 2000 and it was tied by David Sutherland one year later.
 
Gump, a two-time winner on the Nationwide Tour, opened on the back nine and birdied three of his first four holes. He continued to roll with birdies at the 15th and 17th to make the turn at minus-6.
 
On the front side, Gump birdied the par-5 first. He then ran off three consecutive birdies from the par-5 third to move into a share of second place.
 
'I was making a bunch of putts. That's about the only way you can shoot 9-under,' said Gump. 'I kept hitting the ball in play and keeping it below the hole. Nothing too heroic. Instead of lipping putts out, they went in.'
 
Freeman, who is searching for his first Nationwide Tour win, stumbled out of the gate with a bogey at the second. He fought right back with an eagle at the next however. He rolled home birdies on the fifth and seventh to move to 10-under.
 
That didn't last long though as he faltered to consecutive bogeys from the eighth. Around the turn, he stopped the downward turn with a birdie at the 10th. He settled down to par six straight holes before closing with a birdie at the 17th.
 
Mark Hensby and Bobby Gage share fourth place at 9-under-par 135. That duo is followed by Jimmy Walker, Andrew Morse, Lee Porter and Jason Schultz at minus-8.
 
Of the six remaining players on the course, Steve Gutschewski is highest on the leaderboard. He has completed 16 holes and stands at 7-under par. He shares 10th place with Rick Price, Roger Tambellini, Brett Wetterich, Shane Bertsch and Zach Johnson, who have all completed their rounds.
 
Third round play will commence at 11:00 AM (ET) with the final twosome slated to tee off around 4:00 PM.
 

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