Sports

Wichita Open: Low the only way to go

When it comes to golf, Roberto Castro's dad is easy to please.

"He doesn't play golf," Castro said of his father, Alberto. "He thinks anything under par is good.

"If I shoot 2 under, but the scores are stupid low and I miss the cut, he'll be like, 'Good going, 2 under,' " Castro said. "I'm like, 'Dad, I missed the cut.' "

After two rounds of the Wichita Open at Crestview Country Club, Alberto's boy hasn't left much to interpret.

Castro, trying to gain a foothold on the Nationwide Tour, was one of five players who shot 8-under-par 63s on Friday. Castro moved to 15 under and grabbed a two-stroke lead over Steven Bowditch and Scott Gutschewski at the midway point of the $575,000 tournament on Crestview's North course.

Sixty-nine golfers finished above the cut line at 5-under 137, a score that matched the lowest 36-hole standard for weekend play in the Wichita Open's 10-year run at Crestview. Tommy Gainey and Martin Piller, the tour's lone two-time winners this season, were in that group. Gainey is tied for 29th at 7 under, while Piller was tied for 55th at 5 under.

Matt Davidson, the tournament's first-round leader at 8 under, followed it with a 67 that moved him to 12 under and tied him for fourth with Dan Buchner.

Castro, a four-time winner on the eGolf Professional Tour, earned a spot in this week's field by tying for 19th at the Cox Classic on Sunday in Omaha. He survived a Monday qualifier playoff to get into the Omaha field.

A victory at Crestview would put him on a similar path as 2001 Wichita Open champion Jason Dufner, who parlayed a Monday qualifying spot the previous week into a full-time spot on tour.

While Castro hasn't made a bogey in 36 holes, he knows there's plenty of work ahead.

"Look at the scores," Castro said. "You have to be really good to play out here and on the PGA Tour. It's a totally different level of maturity."

Indeed, the 63s were flowing like never before at Crestview, as little or no breeze gave golfers a free run at the 6,932-yard layout. In addition to Castro, Luke List, Jin Park, Brian Smock and Nathan Tyler matched Davidson's opening-day score.

"The greens are so nice and the course is in such good shape that if you hit some good putts and some good shots, you're going to have a chance to score well," said List, who had an eagle putt from the front fringe at No. 18 to tie the course record of 61, but settled for par.

Castro, who played at Georgia Tech from 2003-07 and earned All-America honors each season, followed Davidson's first-round recipe for success. He hit all 14 fairways, and after opening his round with four consecutive pars, rolled in a 10-foot birdie at the par-5 14th to start his climb.

"It's always hard to back up a low number," Castro said. "When you take that lid off, you kind of get rolling again."

Castro, whose aunt, Jenny Lidback, played 17 seasons on the LPGA Tour, set the pace for 10 golfers who will start the weekend at least 10 under. Those include Gutschewski, an Omaha native who is 12th on the money list; Davidson, who is playing in his sixth Nationwide event this year; and Hunter Haas, a Wichita Open runner-up in 2004 and '08.

Castro posted his 36-hole total before Davidson started the second round.

"I expected something like that to happen," Davidson said of Castro's score, which was one shot off 2008 champion Scott Piercy's tournament record. "I definitely thought I'd be four or five shots behind by the time I teed off.

"It really almost makes it easier, though, because you know you've got to keep going, got to keep on making birdies."

For Castro, who will tee off with Bowditch in today's final pairing at 12:50 p.m., the opportunity to find a new tour home over the next two days is welcome.

"There have been some guys who have kind of played their way out here, which is nice," Castro said. "It's not easy to do, but it's doable."

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