Vaughn Taylor, whose only two career wins on the USPGA tour have come at the Reno-Tahoe Open, is making a claim to take a third after a six-under-par 66 on Friday gave him a one-shot lead.
Taylor had an eagle and four birdies, then parred the last five holes to move to nine-under 135 at Montreux Golf and Country Club, where his victories in 2004 and 2005 make him the tournament’s only two-time winner.
“It’s good to come back to a place you’ve played well,” Taylor said. “I’m sure those other guys would say the same thing. A lot of good memories, a lot of good vibes and you almost feel like you kind of pick up where you left off.”
Taylor is a stroke ahead of Will McKenzie (69). Steve Flesch, the 2007 champion, shot a 69 and is tied for third with Hunter Haas (67) and first-round leader Nick O’Hern (72).
Steve Elkington birdied four of his last five holes for a 65 to get to six-under 138 in a group that includes 2002 Reno champ Chris Riley (72) and Notah Begay III (67), the winner of the inaugural tourney in 1999 and who made his first cut in two years.
“I’m usually going home after the first two rounds, but it feels good. I played great. My putting has been fabulous,” Begay said. “You come back, good memories, past champion, people remember you and they cheer for you and it kind of gives you good energy.”
His group at six-under also includes Roland Thatcher (67) along with Michael Thompson (68) and Robert Garrigus, Jay Williamson and Rod Pampling, who all shot 70.
They were all trailing Taylor, who holed out from a greenside bunker on the first hole, made a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-five second hole and added a 25-foot birdie on the par-three 11th. He drove the ball 302 yards on the 518-yard 13th, then hit a five-iron stiff from about 210 yards to set up the short eagle putt.