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Goetz, Bell move ahead by one at PGA Canada qualifying

West Virginia Mark Goetz - University of West Virginia

DOTHAN, Alabama—Mark Goetz and Riley Bell, a professional and an amateur, have set themselves apart through 36 holes at the third PGA TOUR Canada Qualifying Tournament at RTJ Golf Trail at Highland Oaks.

In Wednesday’s second round, Sacramento State’s Bell, one of the first-round leaders, joined Goetz at 8-under, the duo sitting atop the leaderboard a shot ahead of Patrick Moriarty, Drew Mathers and J.D. Hughes. Goetz shot his second consecutive 68, while Bell finished with a 2-under 70, the native of Yuba City, California, going to the last hole at 10-under before a double bogey derailed him. An errant drive and the resulting penalty shot dropped Bell into the tie with Goetz.

“I told my playing partners I hit a really solid 3-wood. It felt like I hit [the ball] off the side of the face, but it came off like I topped it. Obviously, it was a poor outcome even though I felt committed over the shot,” Bell observed. He laid up for his third shot on the par-4, his ball landing in a divot. On his fourth shot from 103 yards, he hit his wedge to six feet but missed the bogey putt.

“It was a poor outcome even though I felt committed over the shot,” he said of his errant drive. “I was not as comfortable as I was [Tuesday] on the golf course yet I still managed to post a good score.”

A year ago, Goetz, the former West Virginia University player who competed as an amateur, played the Qualifying Tournament here, earning conditional PGA TOUR Canada status with his tie-for-20th finish. That didn’t result in any 2022 tournament starts, however. Goetz shot his 68 despite a triple bogey-7 at the 14th hole, his fifth hole of the day. He made up for that miscue with nine birdies, a tournament-best for one round.

Hughes is one of two players—along with Goetz—to shoot two sub-70 rounds to begin this tournament. He followed his opening 68 with a 69, a solid showing especially after he began his day with bogeys on the first two holes. Moriarty made the turn at 1-under then had an interesting back nine, that included three birdies, three pars and three bogeys that still left him tied for third.

“My back nine was really up and down. I did a lot of good but had a couple of bad breaks,” Moriarty said. “It’s what it is. It’s golf.”

Mathers posted his 2-under 70 to get to 7-under despite recording a double bogey-6 at the par-4 third, his 12th hole of the day. He added three birdies, at the fifth, ninth and the 15th.

Three other players are two strokes behind. Joseph Dendy, Ian Martin and Will Chandler are all at 6-under.

“We’re at the halfway point with a lot of golf yet. It’s just going to take some heart, it’s going to take some grit and I know I’m ready for it,” Bell added.