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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Homesick Percy Nationwide BMW Charity

Australian Cameron Percy blistered the Thornblade Club on Friday, firing a 9-under-par 62 to take a two-shot lead at the halfway point of the BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Nationwide Tour. Seeking his first Nationwide Tour win, the 38-year-old reeled off nine birdies between the fifth and 17th hole.  Four of them came in succession on holes 14 through 17.  His 36-hole aggregate of 130 is 13 under par.

First-round leader Darron Stiles followed up Thursday’s 64 with a 68 at Thornblade.  He was joined at 11 under by Reid Estrom, who bettered his first-round 67 by one shot at Carolina Country Club, and Aaron Watkins.  Also playing at Carolina, Watkins posted birdies on five of his last seven holes, including the final three.

The unique Nationwide Tour event features 168 professionals and celebrities in a better-ball format hosted by the Thornblade Club and Greenville Country Club/Chanticleer Course in Greenville and the Carolina Country Club in nearby Spartanburg.  Play resumes Saturday at all three clubs with the professional cut to the low 60 and ties coming after 54 holes.  The low 14 celebrity/amateur teams will also advance to play their final rounds on Sunday at Thornblade along with the professionals.

“It was about as good as I can hit it,” Percy said. “I missed a few putts early or else it could have been something crazy. It was just one of those days where I seemed to have the perfect yardage all day. Every number was perfect. That’s how you shoot 9 under.

“I like it,” Percy said when asked about the unique tournament format.  “We’ve got two good guys we’re playing with. They’re interesting to talk to.  The rounds take a little longer but it’s good.  I get a lot out of it.  I’m enjoying myself.”

First-round leader Stiles commented on the difference between course conditions Thursday, when he played the rain-soaked Carolina Country Club, and Friday.

“The ball actually bounced in the fairways, so it was a little bit of an adjustment with the greens,” he said. “Yesterday everything was sticking. Today you had to play for a little bit of a release, so it was an adjustment. I didn’t hit it quite as well. I drove it awful on the par 5s.”

Like Percy, Watkins is after his first Nationwide Tour win.  The 2004 Kansas State University graduate expressed confidence in his chances.

“Tomorrow I’ve just got to keep doing the same things I’m doing,” he said.  “I’m putting well this week. The best I have all year. So, if I can just keep giving myself looks, I think I have a pretty good shot.”

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