Carolina blue skies and lower humidity greeted the 96 competitors for Round 2 of the 2nd U.S. Adaptive Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort’s Course No. 6, setting the stage for players to jockey for position heading into Wednesday’s final round. First-round leader Conor Stone of Ireland had another under-par score in the works before stumbling to a bogey-double bogey finish, allowing 25-year-old Kipp Popert of England to claim the 36-hole advantage after he fired a 3-under-par 69. Popert, who has cerebral palsy, stands at 5-under 139 for the championship, one stroke clear of Stone and two strokes ahead of defending men’s champion Simon Lee.
On the women’s side, first-round leader Ryanne Jackson, 25, of Seminole, Fla., improved by one stroke on Tuesday and completed a 3-over-par 75. Her 36-hole total of 7-over 151 is three strokes clear of defending women’s champion Kim Moore, of Battle Creek, Mich., who shot the best round of the day among women with a 1-over 73.
Jackson, who was diagnosed with a form of muscular dystrophy as a college freshman, works as an EMT and will attend paramedic school in the fall. She is playing in her second U.S. Adaptive Open; she took home the medal as the winner of the Neurological Impairment category in 2022 and is in position for an even more significant victory this year.
“For the most part of the day my driving was very consistent,” said Jackson. “I hit a lot of greens, made a lot of two-putts.
“It would mean a lot to win this,” she added. “I haven’t had many opportunities to be at the top of the leader board, so it’s a different experience. But it’s kind of a nice one.”
Popert parred his first five holes, then jump-started his round with an eagle on the sixth hole, a par 5 with a dogleg that Popert has the length to challenge.
“I hit a perfect drive, straight over the trees,” said Popert. “I had 175 in, hit a perfect 6-iron and then a perfect putt. It’s probably the first perfect hole I’ve ever played in my life. I really enjoyed that one.
“Anyone who knows me knows I love this. I love a putt to win. I love pressure. I’ve got a good friend on my bag, Ben, and we’re a good team. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
For Popert to finish on top, he will have to hold off Lee, who wasn’t as sharp on Tuesday after his 4-under 68 on Monday. Still, Lee knows what it takes to emerge as the champion, having prevailed over Felix Norrman in a two-hole playoff for the 2022 men’s title. Normann is not competing this year.
“I didn’t play very well today,” said Lee. “Several bogeys, a birdie, and I’m a little bit disappointed. If I don’t play like today, I think I can win. Need to make a lot of birdies.”
Likewise, Jackson will be keeping a close eye on defending champion Moore. The two will be grouped together for the final round.
“I think that will help,” said Moore about playing with the leader. “I think just staying patient out there again is going to be important, hitting the ball solid like I did today. Hopefully that kind of stays with me.”
Not to be counted out for the men’s title is the only other player to complete 36 holes under par: Mike Browne of England, who has a leg impairment. Browne shot a 2-under-par 70 and stands at 2-under 142, three strokes off the lead.
“I obviously love the course, and it just suits my eye and suits my game,” said Browne. “I’m looking forward to hopefully being in the mix again tomorrow.”
The final round will take place on Wednesday, with tee times again beginning at 8 a.m. EDT and continuing through 10:12 a.m. Tune into Golf Today (1-3 p.m. EDT) and Golf Central (5-6 p.m. EDT) on Golf Channel for highlights and live look-ins, along with interviews and analysis from reporter Andy Stevenson.
Seated player Max Togisala, 19, from Ogden, Utah, was paralyzed in a ski accident in February 2022. While he was a golfer prior to his accident, he had to relearn the game from a seated position. Togisala shot a 2-under-par 70 on Tuesday, which betters by 10 strokes the lowest round by a seated player in the two years of this championship.
It seems likely that this championship will again have an international overall men’s champion and American overall female champion. The low American on the men’s side is Jack Bonifant of Kensington, Md., who sits in fifth place at 1-over 145, six strokes behind leader Popert; while Natasha Stasiuk of Canada is in third place on the women’s side at 163, a full nine shots behind Moore and 12 behind leader Jackson.
There have been five eagles recorded in the championship, all on the men’s side. Two were made on the par-5 first hole, by Conor Stone and Jack Bonifant, both in Round 1; two on the par-4 third hole, by Kurtis Barkley (short stature) and Mike Browne in Round 2; and one on the par-5 sixth hole in Round 2 by Kipp Popert.
In addition to the trophies awarded to the overall men’s and women’s champions, the male and female winners of each of the eight impairment categories will receive a medal and be recognized during the ceremony following the conclusion of play on Wednesday.
“As we saw today, Kim Moore had a really solid round, so we know she’s capable of it, so I’ll have to go out and put up another really strong round to be able to win.” – Ryanne Jackson (neurological impairment), 25, Seminole, Fla.; 7-over 151
“It would be pretty cool [to win this]. Sorry, I’m getting a bit choked up. This time last year my dad passed away, so this would be for him. He would be over the moon. Bless him.” – Mike Browne (leg impairment), 45, England; 2-under-par 142
“After I won the championship last year, I got a congratulations letter from the president of the Republic of Korea, and many people now recognize me and congratulate me.” – Simon Lee (intellectual impairment), 26, of Republic of Korea; 3-under-par 141
“I said yesterday I was going to shoot 70. Hopefully I can back that up again tomorrow. But I just play one shot at a time and look for the good breaks and ignore the bad ones.” – Kurtis Barkley (short stature), 35, Canada; 3-over 147 (second-round 70)
“I was hitting the ball much better today. Just trying to hit greens in regulation. I made a couple good putts there on my front nine. Almost had three birdies in a row. Hopefully tomorrow I can strike it well at the beginning like I did today. I think I'll be just fine.” – Kim Moore (leg impairment), 42, Battle Creek, Mich.; 10-over 154