Michael Putnam fired his second straight 66 Friday and moved into the lead at the halfway point of the Nationwide Tour’s Utah Championship. Putnam is at 10-under 132 through 36 holes and one better than Cliff Kresge (67). Rob Oppenheim (67) is alone in third two shots back.
New Zealand’s Bradley Iles matched the day’s best round with a 6-under 65 and shares fourth place with veteran Skip Kendall (66), who turned 46 on Thursday and Jhonattan Vegas (66), winner of the Preferred Health Systems Wichita Open last month.
David Morland (69), Monday qualifier Scott Parel (66) and Brian Smock (68) are at 6-under 136 and tied for seventh.
“I definitely played a lot better yesterday, but I made a lot of putts today,” said Putnam, who has needed only 51 putts for the opening two days. “I struggled off the tee even hitting iron shots, but just made a lot of putts.”
He saved his best for the end, canning a 40-foot, downhill birdie putt that broke almost 10 feet before finding the bottom of the cup on his next-to-last hole.
“It was just one of those that you get lucky if it goes in,” he said. “You’re just trying to die it to the hole and it went in.”
Despite the late afternoon birdie that gave him the outright lead, Putnam headed directly to the practice tee.
“I’d rather be putting well than hitting it well so I’m going to go figure out how to hit it well,” he said, figuring he’ll need to hit more than 13 of 24 fairways over the weekend if he is to earn his first career title.
Kresge held the clubhouse lead for most of the day after getting out in the morning and shooting his 4-under 67.
“It sure was a nice day to play today,” he said. “The greens were perfect. I’d say it’s a little bit easier today because of the conditions.”
Thursday’s opener featured gusting winds, cooler temperatures and a dose of afternoon rain, but Friday was picture perfect with sunny skies, a light wind and temperatures in the low 70s.
“The hardest part for me is figuring out how far the ball is going to go,” said Kresge. “We have to do two or three calculations. You have to guess how warm it is to determine how far it’s going and it can be challenging sometimes to control your distances.”
Second-Round Notes: Mark Brooks had a hole-in-one at the 159-yard 15th hole. Brooks shot a 6-under 65, is 5 under through 36 holes and is tied for 10th. … The second-round scoring average was 71.018, marking the second straight day that the average was above par. This is the first there have been consecutive above-par rounds in this event since the third and fourth rounds in 2005. … A total of 72 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 2-under-par 140. This is the highest cut at Willow Creek since 2005 when the cut was at even-par.
First-round leader and leading money winner Chris Kirk fired a 3-over 74 and stands at 3-under 139. … Eight of the top-10 players and 21 of the top 25 teed it up this week. Those missing the 36-hole cut were: #3 Tommy Gainey, #5 Kevin Chappell, #13 Jim Herman, #14 Kevin Kisner, #18 Scott Gutschewski,, #21 John Riegger and #22 Dicky Pride. … Monday qualifier Steve Schneiter, who lives here in Sandy, fired a 5-under 66 and is at 5 under. … Local favorite Daniel Summerhays has posted scores of 68-70 and is tied for 21st. He has now shot sub-par scores in 12 of his past 14 rounds at Willow Creek CC. … Paul Stankowski has posted scores of 71-69--140 and made the cut at 2 under par. Stankowski is #1 in Fairways Hit (20 of 24) and tied for second in Greens in Regulation (30 of 36), but is tied for 134th in Putts (64 total) and stands tied for 39th.