Jason Bohn withstood difficult afternoon conditions to seize a two-shot lead on Friday after two rounds of the US$6.4 million Wachovia Championship.
Bohn, who once collected US$1 million for a hole-in-one during his college days, finally found his putting touch to post a superb five-under 67.
“The course played extremely difficult today, and it’s getting firmer and faster,” he said after posting a nine-under 135 halfway total, with Anthony Kim (67) alone in second place at 7-under 137.
Former champion Jim Furyk was among a trio three shots back.
“I did a lot of nice things today, so I’m happy,” Bohn said. “I’ve been picking when to fire at flagsticks, and I’ve got some good bounces, so things are going my way.”
Improved putting, however, was the key for Bohn. He has added an inch in length to his putter this week, and made some technical changes, with the help of coach Mike Shannon.
“It enabled my arms to become a little closer to my body, and that allowed me to free my swing a little more,” Bohn said. “My strike is much more solid now.”
“It was getting out of hand,” he said of his putting woes. “I was starting to lose some confidence. Putting is a little bit technique, but it’s so much confidence. If you think you can make it, you’re probably going to make it.”
Bohn, 35, missed the second half of last year with a rib injury. He has one PGA Tour victory, but his main claim to fame is that ace in 1992, an unlikely feat that set him on his way professionally.
“I saved up all my cash to chase my dream of playing professional golf,” continued Bohn, whose million dollars is still being paid in yearly US$50,000 installments. “Without that hole-in-one there’s no way, because it took me seven or eight years playing the mini tours. It would have been impossible for me to continue to do that.”
Kim enjoyed slightly more favorable conditions in the morning and nabbed three birdies in a row from his 14th hole.
“I feel fortunate to get out with 67,” said the 22-year-old, who was born in Los Angeles of Korean parents, which means he is eligible for this year’s US Ryder Cup team.
He has huge talent, as he showed with a tie for second at the Heritage two weeks ago, but earned a reputation in his rookie season last year as being a cocky hothead.
“I’m starting to learn [to be patient],” he said. “I have a long way to go, but I’m definitely doing better in that department. I learn every round I play.”
“Staying patient was a big deal because even after a couple of good solid swings, I missed a couple of greens,” Kim said. “If I had let that get to me, I could have shot 75 out here at the drop of a hat, because the greens are so firm and the greens pretty tricky.”
Among the bigger names, world No. 2 Phil Mickelson fell seven adrift after double bogeys at the 15th and 18th.