AVONDALE — A magical week continues for Lafayette native Michael Smith, who assured himself of his first paycheck on the PGA Tour with a 4-under 68 in the second round of the weather-plagued Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana.
The 29-year-old Smith stands at 6-under 138 after an opening-round 70, two shots clear of the projected weekend cut of minus 4.
Smith played his way into the tournament through a pre-qualifier last Friday and a qualifier Monday, both at English Turn Golf & Country Club where he shot 5-under 67 both days. Since his days at UL-Lafayette (2004-08), Smith has toiled the past seven seasons on the Adams Pro Golf Tour.
The Zurich Classic represents his second tour event. He missed the cut in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club after round of 76-76.
“I’m having a good time,’’ Smith said while eating a post-round lunch with his parents at a nearby restaurant. “It’s a blast. To be honest with you, I’m not hitting the golf ball that well but I’ve really putted and chipped well. That makes up for a lot.
“If I can hit the ball a little better and keep putting like this, I’ll play two more good rounds.’’
Smith’s round Friday featured six birdies and two bogeys.
“I don’t think you ever see this coming,’’ Smith said. “It’s so hard to Monday qualify anywhere, on the Web.com Tour or the PGA Tour. But I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t think my game as good enough but still it’s hard.
“My main goal was to make the cut, and then if I played better than that, great. That’s always the main goal when you get in for a guy like me. I just want to go out there and enjoy the moment and play up to my potential this weekend.’’
Snake in the grass
No really, there was a six foot water moccasin curled up on the seventh fairway Friday afternoon, either innocently napping or waiting to strike. The Golf Network gave it ample air time during lulls in the action, along with the countless alligators on the property.
A back injury forced defending champion Noh Seung-yul of South Korea to withdraw midway through his second round Friday.
Noh, 23, withdrew after playing holes 10 through 17 at even par and finished his 26 holes at 1-over par after shooting a 73 Thursday on the 7,425-yard, par 72 Pete Dye layout.
Noh earned his first PGA Tour win in New Orleans last year, becoming the seventh first-time winner in the past 10 years in the Big Easy.
One putt too many
All good streaks must come to an end and one did for Freddie Jacobson on Friday in the second round.
He three-putted his first hole of the day — the par 4, 398-yard 10th — ending a PGA Tour-best streak of 542 consecutive holes in which he had two putts or less.
He 3-putted from 33½ feet on No. 10, with his first putt sliding past by 3 feet, 2 inches. He missed the comebacker before holing out from 2 feet, 1 inch.
He needed 31 putts en route to a 1-under, 71, Friday. By comparison, he shot 68 Thursday with only 20 putts, including 14 one-putt greens.
By the numbers
36: A tour-best consecutive cut streak made by Steve Stricker. That streak is in jeopardy as Stricker stands at 2-under through 15 holes when the weather halted play Friday afternoon. He is facing a second shot from the fairway on the par-4, 355 yard 16th, 113 yards to the pin when play resumes Saturday at 8 a.m.
He said it
“I watched the Pelicans play the Warriors last night. Made it until the end of the third quarter,’’ Brendon de Jonge said. When told the Pelicans lost a 20-point lead after three quarters and eventually succumbed to Golden State 123-119 in OT, de Jonge replied: “Well, they won three quarters.’’