ENDICOTT, N.Y. – When Dan Forsman knocked a 3-wood straight down the middle of the first fairway, he thought it might be another good day.
Forsman shot his second straight 6-under 66 on Saturday to surge past first-round leader Wayne Levi and take a one-shot lead over Brad Bryant after two rounds at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open.
“I trusted my swing, finally. It gave me a lot of confidence,” Forsman said. “All of a sudden it just took a lot of the anxiety (away).”
Forsman was at 12-under 132 and somewhat lucky to be there alone – Bryant (67) kept pace until a bogey at the final hole. Russ Cochran (66) and Levi (69) were tied at 10 under.
Bill Glasson (66), Mark Calcavecchia (68), and Nick Price (66), third in the Schwab Cup standings, were another shot back.
Andy Bean, who had an 8-under 64, just two shots off his career low and the best round of the day (Bruce Vaughan also shot 64), was tied with Loren Roberts (68) at 8 under. Fred Funk (70) was alone at 7 under.
Ken Green, in just his second start in a stroke-play event since an RV crash a year ago resulted in the loss of the lower part of his right leg, had a 2-over 74. It was the best round in his comeback.
Levi, so solid in the opening round with seven birdies and no bogeys, lost his edge at the outset despite ideal conditions, save a few afternoon sprinkles, and virtually no wind. He saved par at No. 1 but made bogey at the second hole when his second shot found the water hazard in front of the green.
“You can’t do that. It’s devastating,” Levi said. “It could have been worse, but I couldn’t do anything on the front side.”
That allowed his playing partners to surge past and duel for the lead all day around the En-Joie Golf Club course.
Forsman, who won the Regions Charity Classic in May, one of six top-10s on the season, birdied the first three holes to quickly erase Levi’s one-shot lead. He followed that with birdies at Nos. 7 and 8 to reach 11 under at the turn.
Bryant, tied for second with Forsman to start the day, kept pace with the lone eagle of the tournament at the 379-yard, par-4 second hole. Bryant’s soaring sand wedge from 80 yards at the dogleg left landed on the green and bounced right into the cup, eliciting a smirk from Bryant and a roar from the gallery.
Bryant matched Forsman with birdies at the seventh and eighth holes and headed for the back nine one shot behind.
Both men birdied Nos. 10 and 12, and Bryant finally drew even at the 215-yard, par-3 14th hole when Forsman drove the rough to the right of the green and couldn’t get up and down, missing an 8-foot par putt. It was Forsman’s first bogey in a span of 33 holes, but he averted a two-shot swing when Bryant pulled a short putt for birdie.
“You don’t want to make two bogeys in a row. You want to stop the bleeding immediately,” said Forsman, who parred the final four holes.
Bryant escaped trouble at No. 15 with a clutch shot out of a stand of trees after an errant drive right and saved par. He got lucky on the final hole when his drive sailed toward the trees that line the right side of the fairway and caromed into the rough. But his second shot landed in rough at the back left of the green and he was unable to save par, missing a 12-foot putt. It was his second straight bogey at the par-4 18th hole.
“I’m really disappointed again in my finish. I left a couple of out there on the last three holes,” Bryant said. “Hopefully, tomorrow I’ll find a way to finish strong.
“I didn’t drive the ball quite as well as I’d hoped, but I hit several great shots out of the trees to get the ball up on the green or around the green. I’m lucky to be where I’m at.”
The last time the 58-year-old Levi was in sole possession of the lead after the first round was at the 2005 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, and he eventually finished tied for 21st. He seemed destined to repeat that performance until rallying late.
Levi made a nice uphill birdie putt from just over 20 feet at No. 15, one of only 10 birdies on what statistically was the most difficult hole of the day. His second shot at the par-4 16th hole spun backward and barely past the pin to set up another birdie that got him to 9 under, and he drove within 6 feet of the pin at the par-3 17th hole but missed the putt.
Unfazed, Levi rebounded with a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
“That’s a good way to finish,” he said.
There was a chance off showers overnight, and Bryant was wary of Sunday’s final round.
“We’re going to have to go make lots of birdies,” he said. “The golf course is just playing that way right now. It’s probably in the best shape I’ve ever seen it, and when a golf course is in this good a shape, guys are going to make birdies. If we get a little bit of rain tonight and this place softens up, it’ll be a shootout tomorrow.”
Divots: There were 27 rounds below 70 and 48 rounds below par. … Ken Green was at 8 over par, two shots ahead of Dave Eichelberger and four in front of Jim Dent.