Austin Smotherman wrote a note to himself in his yardage book Friday:
“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.”
That quote from a digital artist will apply to Smotherman as he deals with the pressure of the final two rounds at the Simmons Bank Open this weekend.
Smotherman shot a 3-under-par 69 to take the second-round lead at The Grove in College Grove.
A 10-under 134 for 36 holes gave him a one-stroke lead over Stephan Jaeger, a six-time winner on the Korn Ferry Tour.
“If you get uncomfortable out there, just let it kind of settle you down,” Smotherman said. “I mean, just embracing it, enjoying the whole process. The nerves are going to be there, but enjoy it. Why not?”
Smotherman, a former Southern Methodist golfer, didn’t even know he had the lead when he finished the second round.
“I just felt like I was hitting it the best I have, honestly, in probably years,” Smotherman said. “Today was just controlled ball where it needed to be and then just make some putts early.”
Smotherman’s day got off to a good start with a par on the first hole.
“Unreal putt,” he said. “I mean, breaking six feet up the hill. I was blown away that that putt went in.”
Smotherman also sunk a 15-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole.
“I think I kind of started walking after it a little bit just begging it to go in,” Smotherman said.
During the first two rounds, Smotherman has been driving the ball well and his iron play has been spot on.
“Iron play has been so good,” Smotherman said.
Smotherman said ball control under the greens is the key to scoring well on the par-72 course designed by former PGA star Greg Norman.
“Understanding where some of these slopes and bridges are and where these pins are at because there are so many spots that you can kind of auto-shortside yourself and there’s just no chance,” Smotherman said. “I’ve been in the right sections. Fortunate to hit the wedges close when I had wedges in. Stay patient, keep it simple.”
Smotherman ranks 55th in the tour points standings with 609.
The top 25 finishers earn their PGA Tour card. Jaeger leads the standings with 1,889 points.
Dickson County junior Cameron Tankersley, 17, made the cut at even par.
He’s 1-under after 36 holes in the 72-hole event on a minor league tour for the PGA.
Tankersley shot a 1-under 71 Friday after opening with a par 72 in the first round.
The Lipscomb commit celebrated with hugs from his family members Friday.
“I’m speechless,” Tankersley said. “I can’t explain how much they mean to me. Just for them to be here watching me playing in my first pro event means everything to me. It’s making me tear up right now just thinking about it.”
Tankersley rallied after a rough start with two double-bogeys on his first three holes.
“My caddie, Ty Beasley, he was, like, you have 15 more holes left to go,” Tankersley said. “I mean, you got it. It’s right in front of you. You have the game. You’re meant to be here. That helped me for sure.”
Tankersley birdied three straight holes on the back nine.
“It was a lot of fun the last couple of holes,” Tankersley said. “I’m glad to make the weekend. I thought coming into this the pros were different than anybody else, but they aren’t. They’re just like me. I belong here, so it’s a pretty cool feeling.”
Former Vanderbilt All-American John Augenstein missed the cut at 2 over par.
The tournament raises funds for the Snedeker Foundation.