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Juan Pablo Hernandez shoots 65, leads by a stroke at Northern Amateur

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Updated: August 27, 2013 6:42AM



CHESTERTON — Juan Pablo Hernandez, a native of Mexico, warmed up to the warmer weather in the second round of the Northern Amateur.

Hernandez, who just graduated from Arizona, has had, in his words, two forgettable performances at the Northern Am.

“Honestly, I don’t know how I finished,” he said.

Thursday, Hernandez had a round he won’t soon forget.

He shot a 7-under 65 at Sand Creek Golf Course in conditions that were considerably easier than they were on Wednesday when the wind blew and the temperatures were hovering in the mid 60s.

“I hit it much better,” he said.

How much better? He got around the course with 24 putts and he finished off his day with a pleasing birdie — an 18 footer — that turned out to be his longest putt of the day. He leads the tournament with a 137 total.

His round topped off plenty of really good scores for the day. Chad Merzbacher shot his way back into the tournament, finishing with a 66. His two-day total is 5-under-par. First-round leader Jack Perry is a stroke back after shooting a 69 — the same score he had on the first day. And Matt Gilchrest, from Auburn, shot a 67. He is three strokes back after shooting a 67.

The 65 for Hernandez ties his best round ever in competitive play.

He said he has shot that number about 10 times.

After he finishes with the Northern Am, he will play in the Western Open and the U.S. Amateur before he heads off to South American to play on the Latin America Tour. The LAT is a new feeder for the Web.com Tour, which is one step away from the PGA. The top five finishers in the LAT automatically qualify for the Web.com.

Kyle Grassel of Chesterton had the low round for the local players. Grassel shot a 70.

His 2-under score was nine strokes better than what he opened with.

Grassel said he felt more comfortable on the tee after a poor opening round.

“I just was more confident,” he said. “I got a little to ahead of myself in the first round.”

Grassel also got off to a good start, playing his opening nine 3-under par.

He slipped a little on the back, mostly because of some loose drives.

It also helped that the wind was down and the course was playing easier.

He doesn’t expect the final round to be as easy.

“The pins were definitely accessible,” he said. “The pins are going to be harder. They’re going to make the leaders go after it.”



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