Hot Hicks leads rain-soaked Rex Hospital Open

jgiglio@newsobserver.comJune 2, 2012 

— The rain hit the TPC Wakefield Planation course Friday afternoon long enough to delay Justin Hicks’ second round. The wet weather made Hicks wait but it didn’t slow him down.

After an hour and 40 minutes, he tapped in a 3-foot par putt to finish the round with a 5-under 66, matching his opening round 66 to leave him 10-under and alone in first place of the Rex Hospital Open after a rain-shortened second day.

On Monday, Hicks finished with a 63 at a British Open qualifier in Plano, Texas to secure a spot at the major at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in England.

“It certainly has been a good year,” said Hicks, 37.

First-round leader Jim Renner was one of 78 golfers still on the course when the second round was called after the second rain delay at 5 p.m. Renner is 1-under through seven holes and 9-under for the tournament after a blazing round of 63 on Thursday.

Shane Bertsch and Jeff Curl were in the morning group and beat the rain. Each carded a 69 to finish the round at 8-under, two shots behind Hicks. B.J. Staten and Oscar Serna were still on the course when the round was called and were tied with Bertsch and Curl for third.

Hicks, who spent the 2011 season on the PGA Tour, bogeyed his first hole on Friday after completing his first round without one. He had three birdies on the front nine and then birdied four of the first five holes on the back nine.

On the par-4 14th, he sunk a 45-foot birdie putt to get to 10-under and parred the last four holes into the clubhouse lead.

Hicks said, without hesitation, he’s playing the best golf of his life. He has three top-10 finishes this season and ranks 15th on the money list. The top 25 players on the Nationwide Tour earn their tour cards for next year.

“I’m just having a good time out there and enjoying my game right now,” Hicks said.

The wait to hit his final shot of the round was more inconvenient than unnerving for Hicks. The first rain delay came at 1:30 p.m. with Hicks waiting to tap in his par putt. When the round re-started at 3:10 p.m., he came out and knocked the putt in.

“It wasn’t like something I could go brain dead over,” Hicks said. “You can’t really pick and choose when you have delays.”

The second delay came minutes after Renner made his first birdie of the second round. He dropped a beautiful wedge from about 100 yards right next to the pin on the par-5 8th hole. Renner, who had eight birdies on Thursday, parred the first six holes.

The golfers who didn’t finish Friday will tee off at 8 a.m. to complete the second round. The third round is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. on both the first and 10th holes.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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