Jones Free chased Maxwell Ford throughout the second round of the Press Thornton Future Masters. The Alabama commitment and Morgan Academy golfer fired an 8-under par 62 on Friday.
He didn’t catch Ford, the first-round leader who set a Future Masters record 61 in Thursday’s opening round, but he finished just one shot back.
Ford, the Peachtree Corners, Ga., resident, followed his record round with a fine 1-under 69 to lead by one with a two-day 10-under 130 total at the Dothan Country Club.
The leader started his round on the front nine and was 2-over through the first eight holes. He made bogey on No. 5 and No. 7. He birdied No. 9, two-putted the par-5 10th for another birdie and added a birdie on No. 15 for a solid 69.
“I didn’t feel like I played the front that much worse,” Ford said. “Holes 2 through 6 are all hard. I played those holes really well yesterday.”
Free said he had a great putting round – which was unfamiliar territory at the DCC course.
“This course has pretty much always let me down with the putter,” said Free, who is playing here for the fifth time. “I putted really well today – finally.”
He only had 28 putts – compared to 34 in the first round – and it didn’t take long to get started. He eagled his first hole – the 10th – with a 30-foot putt.
“It’s a pretty good way to start off your round,” he smiled.
It wasn’t just a hot putter, which also provided birdies on No. 16 and No. 18.
“I don’t think I missed a green today, except the one I hit in the water. I hit the ball good and I finished very strong, too,” Free said.
He bogeyed No. 2 when his drive bounced off the cart path and found the water.
But he finished very strong – with birdies at 4, 5, 6, 7 and 9, a stretch that included a lip-out on No. 8.
After the two leaders, it’s another five shots back to Harrison Davis of Fort Payne, who shot a 6-under 64 and is at 4-under 136 through two rounds.
“I hit it a lot closer than yesterday,” Davis said when asked about the difference. “Yesterday it was 20-, 25-foot putts about every hole. I had 16 pars and two bogeys and didn’t sniff a birdie all day.
“So I was like, ‘Let’s just make one birdie.’”
He birdied 10, his opening hole, and added another on 11. A great sand save kept things going on No. 13. He added birdies on No. 14 and No. 18.
On the front, he nearly aced the par-3 No. 3, tapping in from three inches. His second shot on No. 4, the par-5, went way right. He found himself on the No. 5 tee box.
“I had 58 yards and a big tree in front of me,” he said. “I had to go over the tree and hit it to three feet. It was probably my best shot of the day.”
He said he missed makeable birdie putts on 7, 8 and 9.
“If I hit like I did today I’ll be happy with tomorrow,” Davis said after needing just 27 putts.
It underscored his ball striking that he said he didn’t make a putt outside of 15 feet in his round of 64.
“I just let myself play today. I didn’t try to get in my own way. I was in a constant groove all day,” Davis said.
Earlier in the day, Andrew Spaulding of Spring, Texas, and Eli Ortego of Broussard, La., both followed an opening-round 71 with a 3-under 67. They are tied for fourth place at 2-under 138 with Logan Jerrells of Windermere, Fla.
Jerrells opened his tournament with a 68 and shot even-par 70 on Friday.
“It was a grind out there. It wasn’t as smooth as yesterday, but we ended up at even so I’m happy with it,” Jerrells said.
“Ball striking,” Ortego answered quickly when asked the difference in his first two rounds. “I just hit it a little better, had some closer putts.”
He birdied both par-5s (Nos. 4 and 10). His only bogey came when he three-putted 13.
He highlighted his day by holing out for eagle on No. 16.
“I hit a 7-iron from 183 yards,” he said. “But nobody saw it. The guy thought it was out of bounds. We started looking for it and I looked in the hole and it was in there.”
Andrew Spaulding said he capitalized on his opportunities better on Friday than the opening round.
“I struck the ball well today and putted better today,” he said.
That included birdie putts on 2 (four feet), 7 (three feet), 10 (shot tap-in) and 14 (six feet). His only bogey came after a hooked drive on No. 6.
His twin brother, Matthew Spaulding, is a shot behind after a 2-over-par 72 on Friday. Matthew started with a 67 and is 1-under through 36 holes.
“Conditions are a lot tougher today,” Matthew said. “Wind is part of it, but the greens are getting a lot harder and the ball is bouncing a lot farther and we’re not used to it. The greens are also a lot faster. I experienced the faster part where I three-putted a couple times that really cost me in the end. Still, if I can throw up a good round tomorrow I’ll be fine.”
Brett Schell of St. Augustine, Fla., had the best score in the morning wave Tuesday. His 4-under 66 left him among those at 1-under 139 for the tournament.
“A lot better putting today, that’s for sure,” Schell said. “I struck the ball better, as well, but I made some putts I didn’t make yesterday. That’s how it happens. And I made a triple yesterday.”
His only bogey Friday came on No. 6, when he couldn’t get up and down out of a bunker. He had birdies on Nos. 4, 9, 10, 14 and 17.
“There wasn’t a lot of danger. Those are the fun rounds of golf, for sure,” Schell said.
Others at 1-under through 36 holes were Preston Topper (69) of Duluth, Ga., Andrew Sullivan (73) of Louisville, Kye Meeks (68) of Walnut, Miss., and Harrison Harper (72) of Tampa.
The cut line fell at 8-over 148. The field is trimmed to the low 104 and ties and the cut fell at exactly 104 golfers. 9-over 149 did not make it.
Saturday’s final round will begin at 7 a.m. The final group of Maxwell Ford, Free, Davis and Eli Ortego will start at 8:48 a.m.