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Len Ziehm On Golf

Teater finds his Web.com comfort zone at Rust-Oleum Championship

Josh Teater was a PGA Tour member from 2010 until 2014, then things changed,

After making 144 PGA starts and posting 11 top-10 finishes, he could get into only 11 tournaments on the PGA Tour last year. He wound up playing in 10 on the developmental Web.com Tour to supplement his schedule and that didn’t work so well either. In his half season on the Web.com circuit he made just one 36-hole cut.

“My focus was on the PGA Tour, and I came out here (theWeb.com) not as prepared as I probably should have been,’’ he said. “I was thinking I should have been on the PGA Tour.’’

So, this year has been different – and not exactly by Teater’s choice, but he’s trying to make the best of it.

“It’s a blessing to know I’m not getting into any PGA tournaments,’’ he said Friday after charging into the lead in the Web.com’s Rust-Oleum Championship at Ivanhoe Club. “I have no status there. This is my home, where my focus is now. Last year I was always on the bubble, wondering where should I play?’’

Getting into Web.com events hasn’t been a problem for the 37-year old Kentuckian, but he didn’t exactly light up the circuit until he got to Ivanhoe. Last week’s tie for 11th finish in the Dominican Republic was Teater’s best in 10 tournaments and the Rust-Oleum promises to be even better based on his play over the first 36 holes. He got off to a 66-67 start and his 133 – 11 under par – is one better than Spain’s Gonzalo Fdez-Castano. Austin Cook, the leader after Round 1, shot 71 to drop into a tie for fourth – three strokes off the lead.

Clearly Teater is getting more comfortable on the developmental tour, which now provides a path directly to the PGA Tour. A top 25 finish on the money list will move Teater back to the premier circuit in 2017.

“This whole season I’ve got to put my foot down or I’ll get run over,’’ he said. “In one way it’s a blessing to get out here, meet some new guys and get tested by the young ones.’’

One great shot gave Teater the momentum he needed on Friday. Starting the day one shot behind leader Austin Cook, Teater came charging on his second nine in Round 2. The big shot came with a hybrid from 220 yards at No. 14. His ball stopped eight inches from the cup on the par-5, leaving him a tap-in for eagle.

Buoyed by that good fortune, Teater made birdie at Not. 15 to tie Fdez-Castano for the lead and then claimed solo possession of the top spot with a six-foot birdie on the par-3 17th.

Friday was cut day and only one of the four sponsor’s exemptions will play on the weekend. Deerfield’s Vince India, who played on the Web.com Tour last year but didn’t retain his card, is in a tie for 21st place – seven shots behind Teater.

Brian Bullington, a Frankfort resident who – like India – play collegiately at Iowa, and Brian Campbell, the former Illinois star now in his rookie pro season, are tied for 12th. They’re five strokes off the pace.