van Niekerk made eight birdies to match Gavin Hall’s second day 69

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Pittsford, NY – Gavin Hall has a golf swing, and a golf game, that is the envy of quite possibly every player who is competing this week in the RDGA John H. Ryan Jr. Memorial Championship.

Yet Thursday morning, on the heels of shooting a first-round 71 to tie for the lead in the 83rd annual district championship, Hall was up bright and early and on the practice range tinkering because in golf, it’s never good enough.

“I had a great range session,” Hall said Thursday afternoon after completing a 3-under-par second round of 69 at Irondequoit Country Club that vaulted him into a commanding five-stroke lead over Larry Sand and Matt van Niekerk.

“I wasn’t hitting it great (Wednesday), I was grinding,” Hall continued. “So I was up pretty early and I found a little something before the round and started hitting it well.”

What Hall found was that by strengthening his grip just a tad, he was striking the ball more solidly, and it certainly came to fruition on the front nine when he made four birdies for an outgoing 32.

“I talked to my coach, Joe Lusardi, and I was trying to get back my old feel and went back to when I was 15 and had that grip,” said the 18-year-old, who sits at 4-under 140 at the halfway point. “Little changes here and there are good things for me.”

After making three pars in the incoming nine, Hall hit a speed bump when he three-putted 13 and then missed the fairway at 14, hit his approach into a bunker, and made a second straight bogey.

And then came a nearly three-hour weather delay where the players were unable to play, despite no rain falling, because lightning was persistent in the area.

“I kind of like a delay when I’m playing bad because you can regroup and re-focus and get back into the round,” said Hall, who sure had to deal with delays when he played in the U.S. Open at Merion last month. “Last week at Hilton Head I had a delay every day, so I got a little taste of that and we’re getting pretty used to it this summer with all the thunderstorms we’ve had.”

When play resumed, Hall parred 15, bogeyed 17, and birdied 16 and 18.

“I’m just excited to be in good position for the weekend,” said Hall, who plays out of the Country Club of Mendon. “The course is only going to get tougher from here on out so I have to keep striking it well and make some putts.”

Sand, playing on his home course, had an equal opportunity kind of day as he made seven pars, six bogeys and five birdies for a 73 that put him at 1-over 145. van Niekerk, who had a first-round 76, matched Hall’s second day 69 as he made eight birdies.

Because of the lengthy mid-day delay, the second round will have to be completed Friday morning, and following a cut to the low 40 scores and ties, the third round will commence probably around mid-morning.

[Source: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20130718/SPORTS/307180062/Gavin-Hall-RDGA]