CROMWELL – In his last two Monday qualifiers on the Korn Ferry Tour, Will Gordon missed the cut by three and four strokes, respectively.
On Friday, in round two of the Travelers Championship, the 23-year-old walked off the 18th green to see his name on top of the leaderboard.
A sponsorship invitation to the Travelers, Gordon shot 8-under par in his second round of play, hitting nine of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens, helping him take the lead with 12-under par over Mackenzie Hughes (-10) to cap off a dominant round for a recent Vanderbilt graduate still looking for his PGA Tour card.
“I think after [Thursday] I was able to kind of fight out a good round and had some momentum going into today, and after seeing the scores yesterday morning I knew that it was going to be gettable this morning,” Gordon said. “[I] just tried to come into [Friday] with a really positive mindset and aggressive mindset and I was able to do that and execute early, which whenever I get that momentum early, I usually don't let it go, so I was pretty proud of myself and how I hung in there early.”
Gordon has hung in despite a number of disappointing turn of events related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Mackenzie Tour, the pro golf tour in Canada, was canceled, as was this year’s Korn Ferry finals, which Gordon had enough FedExCup points to be a part of had it not been called off. Despite a number of bumps on his quest to be a PGA Tour pro, Gordon ran into nothing but smooth fairways and greens at TPC River Highlands on Friday.
“My initial reaction was just kind of roll with the punches and take it in stride and try to make the most of any opportunity I do get,” Gordon said.
Gordon certainly has been making the most of his opportunities at the Travelers, particularly on Friday. On the eighth hole, Gordon sank an impressive 24-foot birdie putt, and on the 10th hole, converted another birdie putt from 45 feet out, beginning a stretch of six birdies on the back nine, helping make up for his lone bogey of the day on the 12th hole and finishing the round with a 62.
Not bad for a recent college graduate still looking for his pro status.
“The uncertainty of having kind of 18 months and being kind of at the mercy, like you said, of the Monday qualifiers and sponsor exemptions makes you really thankful for the opportunities you do have,” Gordon said. “But I mean, I can't force it and I can't try to…if it was all up to me, I'd have my PGA Tour card right now, but it's not. So I've just got to take it with stride and have fun and do it confidently.”
Gordon looked confident on Friday, which is more than he could say for his first round on Thursday, though he was still able to gut out a 4-under par performance in the first round, helping him ease into the second round with the realization that he could compete with the pros.
“Yesterday, honestly, I was tense out of the gate,” Gordon said. “I didn't hit it great. But my putter really saved me yesterday. Today I knew if I came out with a little bit better commitment and a more aggressive mentality that I could get the ball closer to the hole because the wind would lay down and I'd be a little bit more comfortable today. So I felt that if I came out here with a good mentality this morning that it was out there for the taking.”
Gordon’s mentality on Friday was hardly the one of a tentative youngster happy to be playing among the best golfers in the world. Instead, he’s right up at the top of the leaderboard after a monster day two.
“Last summer when I was up in Canada there [were] guys down here my age getting starts,” Gordon said. “They were able to take advantage last summer and I was really excited and thankful to have the opportunity this year and looking forward to taking advantage and felt confident.”