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Montgomery's Robert Gwin Leads Texas State Open

on 04 August 2012.

LEWISVILLE—Nine months ago, Robert Gwin gave up on golf. In his first competitive event since a PGA Tour Qualifying School meltdown last November, he finds himself in the lead halfway through the Bright Realty Texas State Open.

Robert Gwin, the 2010 Bright Realty Texas State Open champ, holds a one-shot lead through 36 holes at The Lakes at Castle Hills.Robert Gwin, the 2010 Bright Realty Texas State Open champ, holds a one-shot lead through 36 holes at The Lakes at Castle Hills.Gwin, the Houston native who lives in Montgomery and plays out of historic Conroe Country Club, shot a 3-under 69 at The Lakes at Castle Hills in the second round of the 42nd playing of the championship. Paired with his first round 70, Gwin leads the field of 144 players through 36 holes of the 72-hole championship at 5-under 139.

Not bad for a guy who thought his full-time competitive playing days ended at the ripe old age of 28.

Gwin holds a one-shot lead over first-year professional Chris Brown, who shot an even-par 72 in the second round. Brown, who won the 2010 Conference USA championship at Rice, shot 68 in the first round and sits at 4-under 140 overall. He leads the field in “pars or better,” making pars or birdies on 34 of 36 holes.

“This it the most challenging course I’ve played this year,” said Brown, who turned pro in 2011 and has one top-five finish this season on the Adams Golf Pro Tour Series. “You have to be in the fairway. If not, you better hope the pin is in the back. The greens are baked, but they’re really true. If you put a good roll on it, you’ll make putts.”

Nathan Tyler of Tucson is two shots back at 3-under par. His rounds of 71-70 leave him just two shots behind Gwin.

There’s a three-way tie for fourth place. David Gossett of Bee Cave, Fort Worth’s Travis Woolf and San Antonio’s Matthew Vela are all at 2-under 142. Five more are 1-under and tied for seventh place, including Brian Norman, an assistant pro at Castle Hills who rebounded from an opening round 75 with a 4-under 68 on Friday. Cameron Doan, the head professional at Preston Trails Golf Club, and Florida’s Tom Murray, the first round leader, also are among the group at 1-under.

They all trail Gwin, who won this championship in 2010. Since then, his lone victory came in a 2011 Winter Series event on the Adams Tour. Not long after that, Gwin headed to Q-School. After advancing through the first stage, he found himself inside the number to make it to the final stage in La Quinta, Calif.

With six holes to play in the final round, Gwin was 4-under when disaster struck on the par-4 13th hole at Redstone Golf Club’s Member Course.

“I hit an 8-iron in the water, dropped, hit that one in the water, dropped again, hit that one in the water,” he said. “I don’t know how many times I did that, but I took a 13 on the hole.”

The incident left Gwin completely dejected. He couldn’t understand what happened. He only said he wasn’t playing or thinking the way he expected of himself.

“I was finished. The bills were stacking up,” he said, “and I told my wife I had to do something different.”

Gwin made the tough decision to put away his clubs. He got a full-time job as a sales representative at Sprint Sand and Clay, a mining operations service that produces landscape materials. He’s been focused on his family; wife Sarah will give birth to their first-born daughter in September. They’ve named her Hannah Grace.

As for Gwin’s golf of late, it’s been strictly recreational.

“I’ve been mostly playing Saturday morning games at Conroe Country Club,” Gwin said. “I’ve been approaching golf differently. I’m not taking it as seriously. Sometimes I don’t even hit balls before I play.”

Still in his first year at his new job, Gwin had to ask off to play in the Bright Realty Texas State Open. He didn’t have any vacation days, but his bosses—Kyle Cain and Fletcher Dunson—allowed him to come out to Castle Hills and see how his game stacked up against a talented field of 144 players.

Gwin is obviously thrilled with his play so far. He putted the lightning-quick greens at Castle Hills beautifully on Friday. He needed just 27 putts for the round, including nine one-putt greens and only 11 putts on the front nine.

Regardless of his position atop the leader board, Gwin’s expectations for the final two rounds are in check. He said he’ll go out with this same attitude on Saturday and take what the course gives him. He’d love to get back into golf full time again someday, but he’s in no rush.

“Whatever happens this weekend,” he said, “I have to go to work on Monday.”

The third round of the Bright Realty Texas State Open begins Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Follow the action with live scoring by clicking here.

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