Two weeks ago Friesen hadn't made a start on the Nationwide Tour. After picking up an oversized check for $112,500 he is now No. 23 on the money list. The 25 leading money winners at the end of the year will earn PGA TOUR cards for 2012.
Friesen started the season on a minor medical exemption but hadn't gotten a start until a sponsor's pick last week. The money earned ($2,411) wasn't much but moved him far enough up the list to qualify for this week. He was out playing a pro-am on Monday when a friend, who checked the internet, and called him with the good news.
Friesen took it from there. He blitzed the Highland Springs Country Club course with a 10-under 62 in the opening round to take the first-round lead by two strokes. A pair of 68s left him at 18-under and sharing the lead with Hampshire, while the leaderboard was stacked behind them.
"There are so many great players on this Tour that I knew I had to go real low today," said Friesen, who became the fourth winner in the past five years to post a 26-under total. "When you have an opportunity like this you want to take advantage of it."
Friesen managed only one birdie in his first six holes and was in a battle for the lead with several challengers. Birdies at 7, 8 and 11 gave him a little breathing room over Broadaway, who was one group in front. Another at 14 gave him a cushion and then he put the hammer down with a trio of birdies to distance himself from the rest.
"I wanted to stay strong at the end," he said. "I didn't want to just hover. I know that you can't force anything."
Hampshire and Broadaway had the best chances but managed only seven birdies between them and failed to put serious pressure on Friesen who was canning birdies and saving pars. His Sunday scorecard featured eight birdies and required only 24 putts. His only bogey of the week came on his back nine in round two.
"The putter was the difference this week," he said after a small change put him a little more upright over the ball. "It just clicked. I rolled it well and that's what it takes out here."Springfield, MO
- For the second straight night, the Springfield Cardinals made a comeback at the eleventh hour.
This time, the extra inning encore took a decidedly different turn.
After relinquishing a two-run lead in the ninth, Corpus Christi struck for two runs in the top of the tenth on RBIs from Brandon Barnes and TJ Steele, ending their 12-game losing streak with a 5-3 win.
Steele broke out of a massive batting slump, finishing 2-2 with a home run, a triple and four RBIs, leading the Hooks to their first win in August.
Once the Texas League leader in wins, Michael Blazek (10-6, 5.92 ERA) came into the game on a dry spell, with only one win since July 4. Blazek had especially struggled in August, losing both starts with a 7.88 ERA.
Any sign of a lingering struggle was nothing more than a distant memory, as Blazek threw one of the finest games of the season for the Cardinals.
Ross Seaton (4-8, 5.63 ERA) entered the start for the Hooks on an even longer drought than Blazek, winless since July 1. Despite the drought, Seaton has had his fair share of success, winning the Texas League Pitcher of the Week award for the week of July 11-17.
Excellent pitching by both starters dominated the first three and a half innings of the game, with only two batters reaching base for each team.
Springfield got on the scoreboard first, clawing their way to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Eric Duncan roped a line drive single to left field, his second in as many at-bats, and advanced to third as Zack Cox extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a single. With runners on first and third and only one out, Donovan Solano grounded back to the Seaton, who neglected to hold Duncan at third, allowing the Cardinals to score the first run of the game.