BANGOR, Maine — Mike Van Sickle came back to earth Friday after setting a course record with a 60 in the first round of the 54-hole Greater Bangor Open at the Bangor Municipal Golf Course on Thursday.
But the 27-year-old from Wexford, Pennsylvania, still shot a solid three-under par 66 for a two-day total of 12-under par 126 to share the lead with 24-year-old David Chung of Fayetteville, North Carolina, who shot his second consecutive 63.
“I got off to a bit of a slow start. I was having trouble focusing, getting comfortable and getting into a rhythm,” said former Marquette University three-time All-American Van Sickle. “I finally got a birdie putt to go in on seven which kind of righted the ship.”
”I certainly didn’t expect another 60 but I did expect to get off to a better start than I did,” added Van Sickle. “There were a lot of scorable holes in the first five and I played them in one-over par. I didn’t hit any good shots, I hit a lot of mediocre shots and didn’t give myself any birdie opportunities. I let some scoring opportunities slip away and then I made some birdies on some of the more difficult holes.”
Jesse Larson of Mendon, Vermont, followed his first-day 62 with a 65 on Friday to sit just one shot behind the leaders. Larson finished second in last year’s GBO.
Bangor native Jesse Speirs, the 2011 GBO winner, rebounded after an opening-round 68 with a 62 to tie his career-low at his home course.
Connecticut-born Bobby Gage and Kensington, Connecticut, native Cody Paladino are tied for fifth at 131 with 1995 GBO champion Eric Egloff from Sandy Spring, Maryland, and Floridian Thomas Murray tied for seventh at 132.
Bangor Municipal assistant pro Rob Jarvis said the cut at one-over-par 139 is the lowest in recent years.
Van Sickle, who was the recipient of the 2009 Byron Nelson Award given to the nation’s top senior golfer, followed two pars with a bogey four on the par-three third hole.
“I hit my 9-iron to the back of the green and had a long three-putt,” said Van Sickle.
After the birdie on the seventh jump-started his round, he added birdies on the 10th, 11th and 18th holes.
“I treaded water well today,” said Van Sickle. “I hit a [good] wedge shot on 10 and sank a six-foot birdie putt; I hit a 7-iron 20 feet from the pin on 11 and made that putt and, on 18, I stuffed an 8-iron from 183 to four feet and made that.”
Chung charged into a share of the lead by shooting a 29 with five birdies on the back nine after a 34 on the front. He had one birdie on the front nine.
“I just hit solid shots and I stayed patient. That’s the most important thing because you can make so many birdies out here. If you stay patient, you’ll start dropping the putts,” said Chung, a former All-American at Stanford University who had four top 14 finishes, including an eighth, in seven events on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica this spring.
“I got off to a sluggish start on the front nine but I sank a 20-foot birdie putt on 10 and a 12-footer on 11 and that got me kick-started,” said Chung.
Chung is playing in his first GBO and learned about it from a bunch of Massachusetts friends who have played it.
Two of his friends, Chris Fitzpatrick from Wellesley and Colin Brennan from Andover are tied for 15th with two-under par 136s, and Joe Harney of West Roxbury is tied for 36th at one-over-par 139.
“This is my first time in Maine. I love it. The weather is awesome,” said Chung.
Larson, who played at the University of Rhode Island, carved out his 65 with birdies on the fourth, sixth, ninth, 10th and 16th holes to offset a bogey on the par-three 11th.
Speirs managed his 62 with a round consisting of eight birdies and one bogey.
The former Texas Christian and University of Mississippi standout notched birdies at the second, fourth, fifth, seventh, 10th, 11th, 16th and 17th holes. He bogeyed the par-four 12th hole.
Gage, who played his college golf at East Tennessee State, collected five birdies and one bogey during his round of 65 and Paladino shot a 66 with five birdies and a pair of bogeys.
“I hit the ball really well but I couldn’t make enough putts to go as low as the other guys,” said Paladino, who plays on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica and Canada and is a Baylor University graduate.
Paladino’s brother, Brent, has played in the GBO.
The players are looking forward to Saturday’s round.
“I need to get off to a good start,” said Van Sickle. “I don’t want to do what I did today. Those first five holes are scoring opportunities.”
“It’s going to be fun because I’ll know where and what I have to do,” he added.