India’s Arjun Atwal carded eight birdies and a lone bogey to rocket into a one-shot lead over Davis Love III and Jim Furyk after Friday’s second round of the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island in Georgia.
Atwal has not won anywhere since his maiden PGA Tour win in 2010 and his best finish this year is a share of 19th place at the St Jude Classic in June, but the 39-year-old was sublime en route to a seven-under-par 63 on the Seaside Course.
It moved Atwal, who has made just 11 cuts in 25 starts this year, to a 10-under-par total 130, one shot clear of host and 2012 US Ryder Cup captain Love (66) and veteran Furyk (65) at nine under.
PGA Tour rookie and overnight co-leader Bud Cauley was two shots off the pace after following up his opening-round 62 with an even-par 70, in a share of fourth place with American David Toms (67) and Australian Gavin Coles (65) at eight-under.
At 175th on the tour money list, Atwal will need a high finish either this week or next in the season’s final tournament to return next year.
He was in a similar situation late in 2010 before he won his maiden title and earned exempt status until the end of this year.
“I’m in a desperate situation,” Atwal said. “I got no choice other than to either win or finish in the top two. I think my caddie figured that out so I just got to grind it out.”
“I felt really calm out there, and the putter is starting to work. That was the missing link in the last few tournaments that I played,” he said.
Love is full of confidence on the greens at his home course with a new belly putter, giving him a great chance to win his 21st PGA title. His last victory came in 2008.
“I’m hitting the ball real well,” Love III said.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve gotten everything out of the way, but it’s my home course and I kind of know my way around it, so hopefully I can keep it going,” he said.
Furyk, who has suffered heartbreak defeats in the US Open, WGC Bridgestone and Ryder Cup this year, put himself in a good position for the title. His 65 was bogey-free and featured four birdies in a six-hole stretch on the back nine.
Fijian former world No. 1 Vijay Singh and Australian Jason Day are among a large group four shots off the pace.
HERO INDIAN OPEN
AFP, NEW DELHI
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay birdied four of his closing five holes as he raced into a three-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Hero Indian Open on Friday. Ramsay, who had shared the overnight lead after the opening round, fired a second successive five-under-par 66 for 10-under-par 132 at the US$1.25 million Asian Tour event in southwest India.
Thai duo Panuphol Pittayarat and Chapchai Nirat — who last won on the Asian Tour in India in 2009 where he set a new world 72-hole scoring record of 32-under-par 256 — and Jaakko Makitalo of Finland returned with matching 68s to stay within touching distance of Ramsay.
Indian star Gaganjeet Bhullar, who won his fourth Asian Tour title in Macau last week, led the local charge with a round of 69 for tied sixth position and is five shots off the pace at the Karnataka Golf Association course.
Ramsay made 11 consecutive pars after his birdie on 11 but bounced back on his homeward nine with four birdies including a 25ft downhill birdie putt on the last.
“It is always nice to hole a birdie on the last. It makes your lunch taste a little nicer,” he said in comments released by the organizers.
Panuphol, who is hunting for his first Asian Tour title, played blind on the last three holes as sporadic rain in the afternoon fogged up his glasses. The highlight of his day was three straight birdies from 14 including a chip in from 15 yards on hole 15.
“The rain was pouring down and I didn’t bring my umbrella, which wasn’t smart at all,” the 19-year-old said.