WICHITA, Kan. – They say records are made to be broken and that was certainly the case in Wichita on Friday afternoon. Web.com Tour rookie Aaron Wise continued his torrid pace at Crestview Country Club with a flawless 62, his second consecutive round of 8-under-par. Wise set a new Air Capital Classic supporting Wichita’s Youth low 36-hole record with his 16-under-par 124 total. He leads Curtis Thompson, who tied the course record with a 9-under 61, and K.H. Lee by six strokes heading into the weekend.
Seven back are Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada alum Seth Reeves and John Chin.
Once again, Wise got off to a hot start. He didn’t birdie the first three holes like he did on Thursday morning. Instead, he made a routine par on No. 10, his first, and birdied holes 11 through 14. The 20-year-old from Cape Town, South Africa added one more at the 16th and carded a 30 on the back nine for the second straight day.
Wise added three more birdies on the front side, including a chip-in for three at the par-4 ninth to closeout his round and card a second straight 62. His back-to-back 8-under-par scores set a new tournament record for lowest consecutive rounds at the Air Capital Classic, previously held by 2008 champion Scott Piercy.
“I had a little bit of an upslope that I knew I had to land it into and pulled it off,” said Wise, about the hole out on his final hole. “It came out just the way I thought it would. Even if it missed I thought it would’ve gone a foot or two by. It was just a good chip and it was just a bonus when it went in.”
Wise is coming off two missed cuts in his last two starts and is currently No. 35 on the money list. The former standout at the University of Oregon has only recorded one round under par in his last five. Despite the poor play, Wise didn’t get discouraged and spent countless hours working with his teacher, Jeff Smith, at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been working on a swing change and I’ve hit some bad shots while I’m working on it,” said Wise. “A good result of that is my short game has gotten better because it had to. Now I’m starting to hit the ball better and the short game is good, so it’s all coming together and obviously, you can see that in the scores.”
Before Thursday’s 62, Wise lowest round on Tour this season was a 63 in the third round of the Club Colombia Championship by Servientrega. The swing changes that Wise has been working on have been three years in the making.
“I tend to roll the club in, get a little long and across the line,” Wise explained. “I pull the shaft down and flip at it through impact, which requires a little more timing than I would like and takes away from consistency. Just working on getting that stuff out.”
While Wise could make the correct move at home, he would revert to whatever felt the most comfortable during tournaments including his individual win at the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship and his rookie season on the Mackenzie Tour, where he secured his Tour card by finishing No. 4 on the Order of Merit.
Earlier this season, Wise was one off the lead after 54 holes in Bogota, carded a final-round 73 and finished tied for 12th. The next week, the former Australian Masters of Amateurs champion carded one of four rounds under par ended the event tied for 52nd. It was on that Sunday at the Panama Claro Championship, after signing for a 2-over 72, that Wise had enough of the inconsistent nature of his game.
“That was really the point where I decided to go all in on it,” said Wise. “Before I said I would do it and then I would get into competition and forget about it and do whatever I wanted and what I thought would work. After Panama, I had a conversation with Jeff and decided to be all in.”
Thompson’s career-low didn’t exactly come out of nowhere. The former Louisiana State Bayou Bengal switched his putting grip after six holes in the first round. After reverting to the claw, a technique he’s been using for the last few years, he’s made 11 birdies and two eagles. Friday’s course record is the second Thompson holds on Tour. In 2015, he carded a bogey-free 9-under-par 62 at Pumpkin Ridge’s Witch Hollow Course in the first round of the WinCo Foods Portland Open presented by Kraft Nabisco.
“You almost lose feeling,” said Thompson, about his lowest round of his career on Tour. “You don’t even know that it’s happening. I was on the course for an hour and I was already on track to shoot 27 on the back nine. You don’t realize it because it flies at you so fast.”
Thompson’s course record, as impressive as it is, was overshadowed by Wise’s performance the first two rounds. Instead of getting discouraged by the large deficit, the Coral Springs, Fla. resident is embracing the challenge of trying to catch Wise this weekend.
“We are all out here to win,” said Thompson, who is currently No. 86 on the money list. “Nobody is out here to second or no less than first. I’m going to chase it and keep playing aggressive. If it bites me, it bites me. That’s just how I play and what I’m going to keep doing.”