RENO, Nev. (AP) – Andres Romero birdied his last four holes Friday to take the second-round lead in the Reno-Tahoe Open with 22 points in the modified-Stableford scoring event on a Sierra Nevada layout that reminds him of the mountain courses in his native Argentina.
Romero, who finished third at Reno last year, had nine birdies, a bogey and a double bogey for a one-point lead over Gary Woodland.
The scoring system awards eight points for double eagle, five for eagle, two for birdie, zero for par, minus-one for bogey and minus-three for double bogey or worse.
Woodland, who started the day in second place with 14 points, had a chance to take the lead on his last hole Friday when his 90-yard approach to the par-4 ninth rolled and glanced off the pin, but he missed the 5-foot birdie putt coming back.
Stuart Appleby, Rod Pampling and Charlie Wi, who played his freshman year at Nevada, were three off the lead with 19 points, followed by Greg Chalmers, Chris Knost and Brian Harman at 18. David Toms was in a group with 17.
“The (scoring) system is really good for me,” said Romero, who birdied four of his first six holes and five of his last six.
“I feel very comfortable here. Makes me remember to home, you know?” he said with his caddie translating. “Last week I made 22 birdies and two eagles. If you made all those birdies here and eagles, it’s very good for you.”
Woodland overcame three bogeys with five birdies – three in a row during the middle of his back nine beginning with his approach 183 yards to inside 2 feet on the 491-yard, par-4 fifth. He hit inside a foot for a tap-in on the 477-yard sixth and made a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh.
“Today was a struggle,” said Woodland, one of the longer drivers in the field who was hitting middle irons into the par 5s on Thursday.
“Today I was punching out, laying up, so it was frustrating from that standpoint,” he said. “But I hit some good shots coming in and I got myself into the golf tournament and I’m getting into a good position going into the weekend.”
The swirling, gusty wind that had players reaching back to their bags repeatedly on Thursday eased significantly most of the day at the 7,472-yard Montreux Golf Club.
But Appleby said he still was having difficulty reading putts in the mountainous terrain where optical illusions sometimes make the ball appear to roll uphill.
“It’s definitely tricky when you have a massive contour coming off a mountain that sometimes shows up more than other holes,” said Appleby, who had four birdies and a bogey. His tie for 16th at Reno last year was the best of his four top-25 finishes.
“If you started not making many, it seems to be like you second-guess: `Am I seeing too much or not enough break and is the mountain pushing it more than the last hole.’ So you’ve really got to be committed,” Appleby said.
It wasn’t a problem for Romero, who made birdie putts from 27, 33 and 39 feet. After dropping the shortest of those on the 477-yard, par-4 sixth, he hit his approach on the next three holes within 8 feet of the pin and made them all to finish the string of four closing birdies.
He credits a change in putters after the HP Byron Nelson in May. He hasn’t missed a cut since and had his best finish this season last week with a tie for 21st at the Canadian Open.
“It gave me a lot of confidence. I played the last five or six tournaments very well,” Romero said.
Playing together, Wi and Knost both eagled the 518-yard, par-5 13th. Wi hit his second shot 233 yards to the green and sank the 20-foot putt, while Knost chipped in from the fairway about 40 feet away.
Pampling started the day with just two points but posted a second-round best 17 points to get into the tie for third on the strength of nine birdies and a bogey.
Josh Teater, who led the first round with 15 points, bogeyed two of his first five holes Friday. He regained the lead with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 13 and 14, but his approach to the 15th missed left and he failed to make a 5-foot par putt.
On the 616-yard 18th, he drove the ball 340 yards and hit his next shot 283 yards in the rough left of the green with about 45 feet to the pin. But his third shot got caught up in the rough again and his fourth held up in the fringe where he two-putted from 20 feet for a double-bogey 7 that cost him three points in the Stableford format.