FARMINGTON — Ryan Dillon, the 2011 San Juan Open winner, shot well enough today to maintain his second-place standing, but he still has work to do if he hopes to unseat reigning champion Jim Knous.
By birdying on the 14th, 15th and 17th holes and carrying that momentum to the front nine at the San Juan Country Club, Dillon shot a 3-under-par 68 in the second round of the Open. The former champ now has a score of 133, which trails first-place Knous in the professional standings by three strokes.
Dillon teed off today at about 11:45 a.m. after a short delay and he took a few holes to get going. But he said he's right where he wants to be after two days, despite losing two strokes of ground on Knous.
"Everything was fine. Usually the wind picks up in the afternoon no matter where you are in the country, so in the afternoon the (course) plays a little bit tougher," Dillon said. "You know, Jimmy (Knous) went out and played well yesterday afternoon, and he did the same this morning. But no, I'm pleased with the round. I did well."
Dillon parred on his last eight holes to finish strong. Riley Arp, who shot a 68 today, is locked in a three-way tie for third place with DJ Brigman and Derek Fribbs.
Mason Mallory came out of the first day in third place, but he fell back today into a tie for 11th by shooting a 75.
Still, Mallory, along with 13 other golfers, will head into the third day of the tournament under par. Scores are down from a year ago, and David Crafton, the country club's general manager, said he thinks better scores across the board are a reflection of the excellent shape of the course.
"I think (the scores) are more about the weather and great golf course conditions," Crafton said. "The greens are nice and smooth — not extremely fast, but fast enough that it's a challenge."
Dillon, who has competed in the Open four times since winning it in 2011, agreed with Crafton, saying the course is playing as well as it ever has.
"The greens are absolutely perfect. And I think they're a little bit softer than last year," Dillon said. "With the humidity staying up, it's going to keep more moisture in the ground. So that's why I think you're seeing lower scores; you can hit it more and you don't have to play for the bounce as much as you used to."
Crafton said he has no plans to alter the course to make it more challenging.
"We'll let the weather dictate that," he said.
Knous tees off on Saturday at 8:12 a.m., while Dillon, who thinks his putting will factor into whether he can claim his second Open title, gets going at 11:53 a.m.
"Some of it will depend on how the weather's looking, but if I keep playing the way I'm playing and make a couple putts here and there, I'll have a good shot," Dillon said.
Rick Simmons is still on top in the amateur championship flight. His score of 151 has him ahead of Riley Rahm by three strokes.
Knous and Eric Lien's total of 121 over two days leads all pro-sponsor flight duos.
Jake Newby covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.