Co-leader de Jonge has some Hokies in the crowd on his side
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS - There's an alumni gathering area at the Greenbrier for those who went to school at four area schools: West Virginia, Marshall, Virginia Tech and Virginia.
Brendon de Jonge, who stands at 7 under par and tied for the lead after two days of The Greenbrier Classic, would enter the one where those milling wear Chicago maroon and burnt orange. He's a Tech Hokie, and there were plenty of Virginia Tech followers following the Charlotte, N.C., resident initially from Zimbabwe.
"It's a little bit of adrenaline," de Jonge said of his support. "Keeps you going. You know, it's always a little pick-me-up if you're struggling a little bit.
"It's fun. It's nice to hear 'Go Hokies!' on every tee."
Tech also had products Johnson Wagner and Drew Weaver in the field, but it's de Jonge who stands at the top of the leader board - with support.
"Any time you play a sport [at Tech] ... It's a pretty close-knit community," de Jonge said. "It's fun."
Undoubtedly it was on Friday.
"I felt comfortable from the start," de Jonge said. "I love the changes [to The Greenbrier course]. The changes obviously made the golf course a lot more difficult, but I think they're great."
De Jonge said he played the course "half a dozen times in college" and in last year's event. "Not a lot," he said, "but maybe a little bit more than some of the guys."
"It's a comfortable place for me," de Jonge said. "It feels good out there."
De Jonge said he made his way to Tech from Zimbabwe via south Florida, where he played junior golf and was recruited. Now he'd like to sign his first championship check. He tied for fifth earlier this season at the Transitions Championship and has three career third-place finishes.
"I think the biggest thing now is to just get out of my own way," he said. "It's very, very difficult to win out here. It's difficult to win anywhere.
"So I just need to stay in what I do, keep going at the same speed, whether it's the first three rounds or the final round."
De Jonge, by the way, doesn't mind the fact that the event is in West Virginia, home of one of his alma mater's old rivals. So far, he said, he hasn't heard any razzing from WVU followers.
"Not much out there on the golf course," he said. "I went to a couple football games there when I was in college and, yeah, there was a little rivalry there. Heard a few things I shouldn't repeat here."
On Sunday, however, he's only hoping to be called "champion."
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.