After someone had the audacity to shoot 65 in the first round of the Dogwood Invitational, the field was greeted by a set of hole locations that were a bit more challenging. A pace on the other side of the ridge here, a couple steps over a bunker there. It was not friendly by design.
But no one bothered to tell Buford’s S.M. Lee. He went out and shot a 64, which paired with his first-round 69, leaves him at 11-under par. Lee will take a two-shot lead at the midway point of the 52nd Dogwood Invitational at Druid Hills Golf Club.
“I know someone probably isn’t going to be happy to see a 64,” Lee said. “The pins may have been a little harder today. I just got some good breaks. I kept calm and kept playing my game.
Tied for second at 9-under 135 are first-round leader Jake Fendt of Kennesaw State, David Laskin of the University of Arizona and Ashton Poole of the University of Virginia. Fendt shot 70, Laskin had a 69 and Poole fired a 66.
Tied for fifth at 8-under are: Chandler Eaton of Duke, who shot 67; William Nottingham of Clemson, who shot 69; and Jacob Solomon of Auburn, who shot 70.
Zachary Healy of Georgia and Scott Stevens of South Carolina are tied for eighth at 137. Steven shot 66 on Thursday.
Healy, a Peachtree Corners resident who just completed his career at Georgia, overcame a brutal start to shoot 70. He made bogey on three of the first four holes, but played the final 12 holes in 5-under. That included an eagle at No. 9.
Defending champion Lloyd Jefferson Go shot 68 and is tied for 20th at 140.
Lee just finished his sophomore season at Dalton State, where he won the Jack Nicklaus Award that’s given to the nation’s best college player. Lee is only the second NAIA winner to win back-to-back seasons. He was selected to represent the United States in the Arnold Palmer Cup and will turn professional before the end of the summer.
But right now his goal is to win the Dogwood Invitational.
“Whenever I play, I’m always out to win,” Lee said. “That’s what I’ll be trying to do this weekend.”
Lee made a bogey on the first hole, but did little wrong the rest of the day. He made four straight birdies, No. 4 through No. 8, to shoot 33 on the front. He closed with three birdies on the back nine, including a 10-foot slider from above the hole at No. 18, to shoot 31.
“This is a really big event,” Lee said. “A lot of Tour players have played it. Just to be in the same group as those kind of players mean a lot. Winning this is something I’d love to have on my resume.”
Fendt couldn’t get the putts to drop like he did in the first round. He said there were four putts that were within 10 feet that didn’t fall. He missed a short birdie putt on 16 and a five-footer at No. 18.
“That’s golf,” he said. “Sometimes that happens. I’m disappointed, but I’m still in it.”
Charles Huntzinger of Penn State, a Peachtree Ridge graduate who won the tournament in 2016, shot a 74 and stands at 7-over 151.