Sports

And now, for your entertainment on 17: Caddie races

The noise level started to rise as Nationwide Tour golfer Tjaart van der Walt's wife, Vicki, and Chris Danneberg approached Crestview Country Club's 17th green Friday during the Wichita Open.

Then it was on. Both caddies, with their players' bags in tow, started jogging up the hill to the green.

Danneberg, looping for Luke List, stumbled and fell and van der Walt reached the green first, setting off cheers in the hospitality boxes from fans rooting for the woman in the blue caddie bib.

"I just told her, 'Don't let the team down,' " said Tjaart van der Walt, who parred the hole en route to a 5-under-par 66 that moved him into a tie for sixth place after two rounds.

Crestview's par-3 17th has become the place to be for a party atmosphere during the Wichita Open. A hamburger giveaway for birdies on the weekend started it all.

Its evolution as a fun zone took a new twist Friday as fans urged the caddies to race the final few yards to the green. Money changed hands between many of the revelers.

"It's nice to see people having fun because golf can be a bit mundane for people," Vicki van der Walt said. "They're having fun. As long as they're being quiet when (the golfers) are on the greens, that's what counts."

Danneberg, a part-time caddie on the tour, insisted he was trying to win.

"I don't know whether it was my shoelaces or whether it was a little indention on the upslope," Danneberg said. "I slipped and I was concerned about Luke's clubs."

Local connections — Former Kansas State golfer Aaron Watkins shot a 5-under-par 66 on Friday and was the lone player with local ties to survive the 36-hole cut. Watkins, owner of top-15 finishes in his two previous appearances, fell right on the cut line at 5 under.

Terradyne Country Club pro Greg Bray followed his opening-round 69 with a 72. Wichita native Dodge Kemmer, who grew up playing Crestview's North course, shot a second-round 68 but was three strokes shy.

Ex-Wichita State golfer Julien Trudeau (141) and former Washburn golfer Ryan Deutsch (145) also missed out on the weekend rounds.

Course data — The average score through two rounds on Crestview's North course is 69.084. Nobody in the field has shot worse than 78.

After 103 golfers shot under par on Thursday, 113 accomplished the feat on Friday.

There have been 57 eagles in the tournament, 51 of them on the back-nine par 5s (Nos. 14 and 18). No. 6, a 468-yard par 4, is playing as the course's most difficult hole (4.227 stroke average), while the 501-yard, par-5 14th is the easiest (4.269).

Catching up with the champ — Chris Tidland, the 2009 Wichita Open champion, graduated to the PGA Tour this year and is not at Crestview. Instead, he's making noise at the Turning Stone Resort Championship.

Tidland fired a 6-under-par 66 on Thursday at the Atunyote Golf Club in Verona, N.Y., then shot 69 on Friday to join Rory Sabbatini in a tie for second, one stroke behind Alex Cejka.

Tidland's best finish of the season was a tie for ninth at the Honda Classic in March. The 37-year-old former Oklahoma State golfer hasn't played on the weekend in his last six tournaments. His most recent payday came in mid-May when he tied for 22nd at the Valero Texas Open.

Derby resident Woody Austin is near the top of the leadboard, as well. Austin's 7-under 137 total put him in a six-way tie for fourth.

Etc. —Tour veteran Brian Smock became the eighth golfer to shoot a 7-under 29 on Crestview's back nine in the tournament's 10-year run at the North course. Smock made five birdies and an eagle on the inward nine en route to his 63.... Australian Ewan Porter, who shot a 73 on Thursday, withdrew from the tournament prior to the second round due to illness. Porter is 24th on the tour money list.... After 19 bogey-free rounds on Thursday, the field combined for 15 Friday.

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