Stuart Appleby unleashed big drive after big drive during his sixth consecutive round in the 60s at the 84 Lumber Classic to open a one-shot lead on Friday.
Appleby's 6-under 66 on the long but not especially trouble-filled 7,416-yard Mystic Rock course put him at 11-under 133 after two rounds. Cameron Beckman's 65 and Chris Smith's 66 put them at 134, two shots better than Craig Barlow, Joey Sindelar and Carl Pettersson.
With the wind behind them on most tees and wide fairways to grab every long drive that wasn't badly hit, Appleby and Smith applied John Daly's theory of golf: Grip it and rip it.
"There's tons of room out there," Smith said. "You've got to hit it hard out there. ... I went out and I was swinging -- there are some holes on the course that I tried to hit my driver harder than I hit it all year.''
Smith, 161st on the money list and playing for a high finish that would allow him to keep his US PGA Tour card for next year, decided he had nothing to lose by using his driver as if he was in a long hitter's contest. His 367-yard drive on the 598-yard No. 5 allowed him to hit a 1-iron on his second shot, and he hit to 2 feet before dropping an eagle putt. He birdied the 545-yard 8th after an even longer drive, taking advantage of a downslope beyond a bunker to drive it 387 yards, leaving him a 136-yard sand wedge on his approach.
Appleby has averaged 320.5 yards with his driver through two rounds, but Smith was even longer on Friday with a 341-yard average.
"The fairways are fairly generous here," Appleby said.
"Enough players are finding enough pin locations."
Appleby, who tied for second last year, had what appeared to be a relatively easy 3-footer for par and a two-shot lead on No. 18. But he missed it badly, leaving him a bogey putt nearly as long, and he settled for a one-shot edge.
Defending champion Vijay Singh and Stewart Cink are seven behind, and Jim Furyk and Fred Couples missed the cut. So did Daly, the unofficial tournament host, a year after he finished in a 13th-place tie.
Daly is sponsored by 84 Lumber, and the lumberyard's billionaire founder, Joe Hardy, is so close to Daly the golfer calls him Dad. Daly also appears in nearly every print and TV ad for the event, which started as the Pennsylvania Classic in 2000 before being renamed following its move to the Pittsburgh area in 2003.
Phil Mickelson, 11 off the lead at even-par 144, flirted with missing the cut for the first time all year, but just made it.
With more recognizable names near the bottom of the leaderboard than the top, Smith and Beckman are among those looking to the 84 Lumber as a route to keeping their cards. Beckman, 181st on the money list, kept his card two years ago with a fifth-place tie at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort event, and he also tied for 13th last year.
Chris DiMarco, the 2000 winner, is seven off the lead.
Top-seeded Retief Goosen tied his own World Match Play record with an overwhelming 12 and 11 victory over Mark Hensby and will play US Open champion Michael Campbell for a place in the final.
Campbell drew level with Steve Elkington at the 35th, winning at the 37th with a par to secure his place in Saturday's semifinals.
In the other semifinal, Paul McGinley will play Angel Cabrera after McGinley comprehensively beat third-seeded Ryder Cup teammate Luke Donald 9 and 8 and second-seeded Cabrera, who won the British PGA on this same Wentworth course in May, beat Jose Maria Olazabal 4 and 3.