Wichita Open notebook: Austin survives to the weekend

Woody Austin’s performance in the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open has been too similar to the rest of his 2011 golf season to make him happy.

But at least Austin will still get the opportunity to perform. After shooting a 2-under-par 69 in Friday’s second round at Crestview Country Club, the PGA Tour veteran and Derby resident finished right above the 36-hole cut line to advance to today’s third round.

Austin will be paired with Australian Adam Blyth at 8:30 a.m.

After finishing a weather-delayed first round with two bogeys and an even-par 71 Friday morning, Austin came back with four birdies and two bogeys in the second round. The three-time PGA Tour winner recovered from a bogey at the par-3 17th with a birdie at the par-5 18th for a two-round total of 140.

“I hit a few more good shots today,” said Austin, who was followed by a gallery of approximately 60 that included family members and friends. “I putted like a 15-handicapperr and I hit it about like a 10-handicapper, so I’m getting there.

“But that’s not very good for (scoring) when you’ve got to go out and shoot low.”

Playing in Nationwide events this season for the first time since 1999, Austin has made the cut in all three of his tournaments on the developmental tour. He has made three cuts in eight starts on the PGA Tour.

The up-and-down nature of Austin’s game surfaced on the back nine. After pitching close and making a 6-footer for birdie on the 11th hole, Austin hit his tee shot at the par-3 12th into the water and made bogey.

“I hit so many bad shots every day,” Austin said. “That was one of them.”

Senior moment — Nationwide veteran Ben Bates, who celebrated his 50th birthday on Sunday, was a bit melancholy after leaving the scoring tent Friday.

Bates, the 1997 Wichita Open champion, said this week’s tournament will likely be his last on the developmental tour. The tour’s career leader in tournaments played (409) and cuts made (226), shot a 74 in the second round and missed the cut by three shots.

“What better place to do it than Wichita,” said Bates, one of four players in the field who played in the first Wichita Open in 1990. “I really love this place.”

Bates is turning his attention to the Champions Tour. He will attempt to Monday qualify for the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, N.Y. , next week and later take his first shot at making the field for the U.S. Senior Open, which is in late July.

Scoring error costs Garza — Former Wichita State golfer Dustin Garza was disqualified from the tournament for signing an incorrect scorecard after Thursday’s opening round.

Garza, 23, a rookie on the Nationwide Tour, noticed the scoring error when he viewed the scores on the PGA Tour’s web site and notified tournament officials. He signed for a birdie 4 when he actually made 5 at the par-5 14th hole.

The error disqualified him from the 156-player field.

It was Garza’s first tournament as a professional at Crestview. Garza, a two-time All-American at WSU, was attempting to make his first cut in 10 Nationwide starts this season.

Nationwide veteran Bryan DeCorso was also disqualified Friday after playing a ball on the par-4 seventh hole that was out of bounds. Once DeCorso holed out and teed off on the eighth hole, he violated Rule 15-3 for playing a wrong ball.

Quick fix — Charlotte’s Joey McLister returned to Crestview on Friday to complete a 6-over 77 that left him tied for 150th. The Monday qualifier came back strong in the second round.

McLister fired a bogey-free 64 to post a 36-hole total of 1-under 141. The 13-shot improvement between rounds tied for the second best in tournament history. Still, McLister missed the weekend cut by one shot.

Steve Schneiter followed an 81 with a 65 in the 2007 Wichita Open at Crestview, the biggest scoring gap in the tournament’s 22 years. Bob Ralston made a 13-shot improvement (80-67) in 1993 and Cliff Bailey (80-67 did it in 1995. Those occurred at Reflection Ridge.

Etc. — John Riegger withdrew from the tournament nine holes into the second round with blisters. Riegger was 4 over at the time. . . . Wichita’s Rod Nuckolls posted rounds of 79 and 78 to miss the cut. Nuckolls, Willowbend’s director of golf, shot 42 on Crestview’s front nine in both rounds. He also birdied his final hole in both rounds. . . . The field’s 71.135 stroke average in the first round was the highest Thursday average since the tournament began playing Crestview North as a par 71 in 2003.

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