Ravell Call, Deseret News
SANDY — Chad Collins had just completed the golf round of his life, firing a blistering 11-under-par 60, which included a sizzling 9-under score of 27 — yes, that's right, a 27! — on his first nine holes.
So what does a guy do after putting together arguably the most memorable day on the golf course he might ever have?
"You pretty much have to try to forget about it, hard as that is to do," Collins said Friday following his record-breaking round that gave him a two-day total of 126 (16 under par) and a three-shot lead at the midway mark of the Web.com Tour's Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club.
"It's hard to block it out," he admitted. "It's probably mentally and physically impossible to block out a round like that. But I'm gonna try my best to try to shoot as low a score as I can again. ... I guess we'll see what happens. But it's definitely difficult to back up a low round like that."
Collins, a self-described "small-town country boy" from Indiana "that likes to fish and hunt just as much as this if not more," enters Saturday's third round of the 72-hole tournament with a three-stroke margin over the trio of Jamie Lovemark, Adam Hadwin and Brian Prouty, who were tied at 13-under.
Lovemark had a great day of his own, as he was one of four golfers who shot 9-under 62s as Willow Creek's par-71 track took a beating from the field, with the 36-hole cut coming in at 6-under 136.
Hadwin had a second-round 65 and Prouty, the first-round co-leader, settled for a 66 Friday to share second place at 129.
Five other golfers — Ashley Hall, Alex Cejka, Ben Martin, Kevin Foley and Peter Tomasulo — were deadlocked at 12-under 130. Hall, Cejka and Tomasulo also shot second-round 62s, while Martin had a 63 and Foley a 66.
But by far the biggest story of Friday's second round was Collins, who tied the Web.com Tour's nine-hole record, which was set 15 years ago.
Beginning his round on the back nine, he birdied No. 10, parred No. 11, and then ran off an amazing string of five consecutive birdies, an eagle on No. 17 and another birdie on 18 en route to that eye-popping 27.
"(It was) one of those days you dream about," he said. "It doesn't happen very often you get a chance to shoot 59 or even 20s on any nine. Just one of those days where I started on the back, birdied the first hole, made probably an 8- or 9-footer, maybe a 10-footer, on (No.) 11, a par-3, for par. And then I don't know what happened after that.
"I just kept hitting greens and kept making putts. Made about a 50-footer on 14. Just played pretty solid all day, hit some fairly close shots but then obviously made some putts that I was even surprised I made.
"Obviously, if you're gonna shoot a low round, you've gotta be putting well and obviously I did," said Collins, 34, a three-time NCAA Division III champion who turned pro in 2001. "And you've got to hit the ball well, too, to give yourself opportunities. But the putter's the main thing on a low round like that."
Collins found himself in that rare zone that athletes occasionally find themselves in, where everything they do turns out right.
"It was just one of those days where it just kept rolling along and kept making putts," he said, "and go to the next hole and try and make another one, and go to the next shot and try and make it your best. It just kept rolling on. That opening nine was, I don't know, it was special. It's hard to do; it's not like this course is easy by no means. But we have some altitude here so the ball goes pretty far.
"The course is in phenomenal shape. The views are spectacular. The course back home that I play on is a lot easier than this course, so to do it on a lot tougher golf course is special for me. I'll probably never shoot a score like that ever again on nine holes, so it's pretty nice."
His previous best nine-hole score of 29 came on his home course, Clover Meadows, an 18-hole public course in Cloverdale, Ind.
And although the 5-foot-9, 165-pound pro said he "just ran outa birdies" on his final nine holes, when he came back down to earth and managed two birdies after his unbelievable start, he's eager to see what the next two days may bring.
"I'm excited," he said of holding the 36-hole lead. " ... It's where you want to be; it's what you dream about doing — having an opportunity to win. Obviously there's a lot of golf to be played, but I just hope I've got an opportunity come Sunday with a few holes left.
"I'm just gonna try to give myself as many opportunities as I can, try to hit as many fairways and as many greens as a can, try to free up the putter and try to continue making putts. I'm sure it's gonna be difficult mentally to try to do that, but I've been there before. I've won before out here. But there's a lot of golf to be played and I just want to continue doing what I'm doing."
After all, what he was doing Friday was something special indeed.
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