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Brian Stuard during ProAm event Wednesday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic.  Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

An auspicious start Friday at the Rocket Mortgage Classic Tournament on the PGA Tour slowed Jackson-area golfer Brian Stuard.

The 2001 Napoleon High School graduate was 3-over-par after two holes, but rebounded for an even par 72 on Friday at Detroit Golf Club.

He finished his round in 43rd place, 6-under-par for the first two rounds. There were still golfers on the course with Stuard finishing at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.

He easily made the cut which is projected at 4 under par.

Stuard bogeyed the first hole and double-bogeyed the second after taking a penalty stoke following his drive on hole No. 2.

He rebounded to birdie five of eight holes beginning at hole No. 4. 

Stuard started the day in 11th place, but slipped due to his round of 72.

 First-round leader Nate Lashley was at 14-under par and Cameron Champ finished the day in second place at 13-under.  Stuard is only three shots out of a top-10 finish.

Play will continue Saturday with the final round scheduled for Sunday at Detroit Golf Club.  Brian Stuard is paired with Roger Sloan teeing off at 10:10 AM Saturday. 

The Rocket Mortgage Classic Tournament is the first PGA Tour event in Michigan in a decade. Ticket for the weekend are sold out, according to the PGA.

Second-Round Leaderboard

Nate Lashley 63-67—130 (-14)

Cameron Champ 66-65—131 (-13)

Charles Howell III 65-67—132 (-12)

Ryan Armour 64-69—133 (-11)

J.T. Poston 70-63—133 (-11)

Friday’s Round

Below are quotes from Brian Stuard following an even-par 72 during the second round Friday at the PGA Tour event Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

The transcript is provided by the PGA to media outlets through TeeScripts.com.

Q. Welcome back. Second round as much fun as the first one?

BRIAN STUARD: No.

Q. What about the course played a little bit tougher today for you?

BRIAN STUARD: I just think the wind made it a little tougher. Greens were still pretty soft so you could make some birdies, but the wind was a little tricky.

Q. What happened on the first two holes?

BRIAN STUARD: I hit it under the lip off my drive on No. 1 and just kind of had to chip it out, and hit it up against the fence on No. 2 and had to take an unplayable.

Q. What happens when you start the round that way after coming off yesterday’s round? I mean, do you have to figure out how to right the ship real quick?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, I think you just have to tell yourself there’s a lot of birdies out there and hopefully you can get one to go quickly after that and kind of get you going, which I was able to do on No. 4.

Q. Brian, are there a couple of holes that stick out as kind of the harder ones, or is every — you just have to hit shots?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, I mean, you know, I think 11’s a tough hole, 9’s a tough hole where they had the pin today, and No. 6 is kind of a tricky hole. There’s a few out there you kind of have to watch, but for the most part you’re just — it’s kind of full speed ahead.

Q. As we enter the weekend now, do you expect these scores — players have seen it twice now, what do you expect to see this weekend?

BRIAN STUARD: That’s a good question. I don’t know. It depends on if we get any rain to get it soft or not. Depends on where they put the pins. You know, I think they’ll probably try to toughen it up a little bit, but you never know.

Q. With Rocket Mortgage, Rickie’s kind of a spokesman so to speak for this

tournament, but you’re the local guy who knows this course. Have other players been asking you for any home field advice?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, a little bit, just kind of what the course is like and that kind of thing. You know, it was tough, I didn’t remember too much about it. I played it a few times, but you just tell everybody it’s just kind of that old-school, traditional Donald Ross kind of course. That’s what it is.

Thursday’s Round

Below are quotes from Napoleon High School graduate Brian Stuard following a 6-under-par 66 during the opening round Thursday at the PGA Tour event Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.

The transcript is provided by the PGA to media outlets through TeeScripts.com.

Q. How much fun was that?

BRIAN STUARD: It’s pretty fun, I have to say.

Q. How what were the crowds like out there?

BRIAN STUARD: Awesome. All my friends and family came and watched. It’s pretty special, for sure.

Q. How did your familiarity with the course work out today?

BRIAN STUARD: A little bit. I think it’s one of those places where you’ve got to hit the fairway and you’ve got to kind of pay attention to where the pin’s at on the greens. I hit some really nice irons on my back nine, which was nice.

Q. Do you think there was a turning point for you today at all?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, I think on No. 16 I was able to make that putt to get me back to even. Kind of just got me going a little bit, maybe settled me down a little bit, was able to play well from there.

Q. Maybe a bit of a dominoes effect, once birdies start?

BRIAN STUARD: Sure. I made two good putts at 16 and 17, and then I played pretty nice on my second nine, hit some really nice iron shots, so that was nice.

Q. What’s it been like for you to come back obviously home and then play this course in front of all familiar faces?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, it’s pretty special. I didn’t get to play in the Buick Open when they had it, so to get to play in a PGA TOUR event in Michigan is pretty awesome.

Q. How long have you been actually with the (inaudible) since the day they announced it?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, no doubt. As soon as they announced it, they said it was going to be at Detroit Golf Club, such a classic, special course, so I think everybody’s looking forward to it.

Q. Did you play this course much growing up?

BRIAN STUARD: I did a few times. I played the Horton Smith a couple times, but it’s been a while.

Q. The OU people were out there today?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, definitely heard some “Go Grizzlies.” That’s cool, for sure.

Q. How gettable will this (inaudible) we saw some numbers pretty early?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, not much wind, greens were receptive, kind of take dead aim. I was able do that, so it was nice.

Q. Is this one of those courses that everyone’s going to kind of come out and jump out and maybe it will level out as the week goes on?

BRIAN STUARD: That’s a good point. You know, just depends on if they get it to dry out a little bit, I think. The greens are, like I said, pretty receptive right now, so if you hit a good iron shot, you’re going to have a good chance.

Q. Do you feel like you’re going to be that guy that a lot of people who don’t maybe know a lot of the other names, they can start to gravitate towards with your day to day?

BRIAN STUARD: You know, we’ll see. Hopefully that’s the case, that would be cool.

Q. Tell us about your shot on 9.

BRIAN STUARD: Just 192, just kind of a smooth 5-iron and just came off nice and high and landed soft.

Q. What are some of the things for golfers who have maybe never played in Michigan (inaudible)?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, you know, I think it just kind of can just, you realize how great of a golf state Michigan is, how many great golf courses there are here. I think that’s — you know, not having a Tour event here the past how many years has been kind of a, I don’t know, it’s kind of negative, but just kind of miss out on some of these courses. Detroit Golf Club is such a great place.

Q. Given that this is probably some of the most friends and family you’ve ever had watching you at a Tour event, how do you keep your focus? Can it be a little distracting seeing people in the crowd that you know?

BRIAN STUARD: Sure, a little bit more, sure. I think probably beginning of the round I was probably a little nervous, a little unsettled maybe, but once I got on a roll I felt like I kind of fed off of everybody, so that was fun, a lot of fun.

Q. Pins seem to be pretty favorable today?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, it seemed like a lot of them were pretty accessible. There’s going to be some good scores today, for sure.

Q. Because it’s such an unknown, first time event and everything, is it necessarily a bad thing to maybe take it easy on the putters the first day, then maybe come back the next day?

BRIAN STUARD: You know, that’s a good pace. Ty, my caddie, and I were talking about that, that it probably would be a little generous the first setup. So we’ll see, we’ll see how tomorrow is.

Q. Is this almost like your Buick Open? Used to be 20, 22 under would win that. Might that be the number this week?

BRIAN STUARD: That’s kind of what everybody thought to start with and seems to be playing out that way so far.

Q. What’s the routine after a great round like that?

BRIAN STUARD: Not much. Just go get a little lunch and just hang out, I guess.

Q. First time here at Detroit Golf Club. What can you tell our listeners about this golf course that they may not be able to see that are listening to us or watching on TV?

BRIAN STUARD: It’s just a great old traditional golf course, tree lined, big tree-lined fairways and greens that got some slopes to ’em and you’ve got to kind of aim (inaudible).

Q. During your round, what really worked for you today?

BRIAN STUARD: I didn’t get off to a very good start, and I guess about No. 16, my seventh hole, I made a good putt and kind of got me going, and then I hit some really nice irons on the back nine.

Q. A lot of players talk about a lot of the undulations on these greens. How challenging are they?

BRIAN STUARD: Yeah, they are. If you hit in the wrong spot or the wrong side of the hole, it can be tough. It’s a place where you’ve got to — if you hit it below the hole, you’re going to feel good.

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