BRENTWOOD, Tenn.—Lanto Griffin, the defending champ of the Nashville Golf Open, is halfway to doing it again after a big finish on Day 2.
Griffin and Wyndham Clark sit atop the leaderboard at minus-12 at the completion of Round 2 of the NGO at the Nashville Golf & Athletic Club on Friday.
Play was suspended just after 8 p.m. due to darkness. Several dozen golfers were able to finish their rounds due to two weather-related delays.
One such player was Conner Godsey, who finished Friday at minus-10 for the tournament. Godsey has yet to play the final six holes on the front nine.
Sebastián Muñoz, who’s a shot behind Godsey, tied for sixth with Wes Roach and University of Tennessee graduate Rick Lamb, has yet to play the ninth hole.
Brentwood native and former Lipscomb University star Dawson Armstrong ended the day at three-under for the tournament. Armstrong was only able to play eight holes on Friday.
Griffin birdied his last hole of the day to tie. His last two shots were about two hours in the making, thanks to a lightning delay beginning at 1:41.
“I played great on the back early, but, I didn’t birdie 13 or 18 from green-side bunkers,” Griffin said. “I’m a good bunker player, so that kind of (upset me). … Four under is still good, I birdied 11, hit a really good shot in there, birdied 16 again.
“It was nice turning a four, then, I made a lot of pars on the front and birdied two coming in. I’m pretty happy with that.”
The 29-year-old would have preferred to finish his last hole earlier. But tournament officials stopped the tournament at 1:41 Central due to lightning and thunder in the area. Play didn’t resume until nearly two hours later.
From there, Griffin put his approach shot about 15 feet to the right of the pin, and sunk the birdie putt.
“I got a little jittery in that delay,” he said. “I didn’t get to eat; I don’t eat pork, and that’s all they had. I ate a salad and fruit and got a little jittery, but, I went out and made that putt, so that’s all good.”
Griffin is playing on the PGA Tour this year, his best finish (tied for 12th) coming at the Farmer’s Insurance Open in January.
Clark, a Las Vegas native and a 2017 graduate of the University of Oregon, shot a minus-8 on Friday. He was paired with Josh Teater and Stuart McDonald in a group that teed off at 6:45 a.m. They were the day’s first threesome.
Teater, one of three leaders at the end of Round 1, finished the day a shot behind the pace.
“Even the ones that aren’t going in are so much closer. I’m leaving more tap-ins than those knee-knockers that you’ve got to mark, and wait for everybody else to finish,” Teater said.
Clark ranks No. 11 on the web.com money list this year, with Teater ranking 53rd.
Brad Hopfinger finished the day two shots back at minus-10.
“I played really well,” Hopfinger said. “I played a good round of golf. I kept it in position. I played the hard holes pretty well today. … Just one sloppy double (bogey) at the end, but other than that, it was a really good round of golf today.”
Hopfinger had been tied with Clark until a disastrous tee shot at 18. It resulted in a penalty and consequently, the Iowa native was hitting three off the tee.
“I just sent one miles right, I don’t know why,” Hopfinger laughed. “I wish I could tell you (what happened.) I hit it a little left yesterday. My line was a little more right of it, so I was favoring the right side, but the ball was miles right.”
Rounds 3 and 4 will be played Saturday and Sunday.
Birdies for charity
For once, a Twitter spat might do the world some good.
Country music star Jake Owen was granted an exemption to play in this event, and stood at 10 over through nine holes on Thursday. About that time, Owen was on Twitter when he noticed the “@DougWalker21” tweeting to criticize his inclusion in the field.
That evoked a rapid response in which Owen, between shots, called out the offending tweeter, responding that he was playing as best he could.
That account responded by promising to contribute $50 every time Owen birdied a hole on Friday.
PGA golfer Brandt Snedeker pledged $5,000 per birdie. Country music star Chris Young agreed to match.
Web.com digital content producer Kevin Prise estimated as of 2:20 p.m. Central on Friday that over $20,000 per birdie had been pledged to the charitable foundations that Snedeker and Owen run.
In Owen’s eight Friday holes, he failed to make a birdie. He’ll get another crack on Saturday morning.
The NGA benefits the Snedeker Foundation, which Brandt and his wife, Mandy, run. The foundation generated over $100,000 last year to support Our Kids and the Sneds Tour.
For more on the Snedeker Foundation, visit www.brandtsnedeker.com/foundation/
Thunder sounded minutes before play was stopped on Thursday afternoon. That resulted in a faster pace of play than normal in at least one instance.
Griffin paired with James Driscoll and Jhared Hack, who were teeing off on the 410-yard par four, which is on a significant downhill slope from tee to green. A tournament official stood nearby with an airhorn, standing ready to signal a stoppage of play at any moment.
Knowing what was coming, the three walked faster than normal down the fairway to the green.
Driscoll wasted little time and landed his approach shot on the green. Sitting at plus-six, knowing he wouldn’t survive the cut, and not wanting to wait who-knew-how-long, Driscoll rushed to the green, left a putt a couple of feet short, and jogged to the ball to hole out.
Seconds later, the horn sounded, with Griffin and Hack waiting to finish the hole.
“We were trying to get done, man,” Griffin said. “Luckily, James got done. He had a flight (to catch), he got to tap in. When you’re at the top, you don’t want to really rush it too much when you’re within a shot of the lead. So, if i had to stick around an hour, it’s an hour less of nap before dinner. But I’ll be taking a nap before dinner, I know that.”
Griffin joked about the price he’d have paid to delay the sounding of the horn by a few minutes.
“I’d have paid $100, that have probably been my number. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad. It could have been (delayed) three or four hours.”
A tough day for former Master’s champs
After shooting plus-seven on Thursday, Angel Cabrera withdrew before Friday’s round. Cabrera was 153rd after the first round.
The 48-year-old Argentinian won the 2009 Master’s Tournament, as well as the 2007 U.S. Open.
Canadian Mike Weir, a lefty who won the Master’s in 2003, stayed at even par after two rounds after shooting the same on Friday.