EVANSVILLE, Ind. -- Australian Alistair Presnell birdied his final two holes Friday for a second consecutive round of 68 and sole possession of the 36-hole lead at the Victoria Leasing Championship, the first event on the newly named Web.com Tour.
Presnell stands at 8-under 136 after two sweltering days of record-breaking temperatures at Victoria National Golf Club.
The thermometer reached an oppressive 107 degrees for the second straight day and set a record for the highest temperature ever recorded in Evansville on this date.
“The heat played a factor today. It was unbelievably hot,” said Presnell, who played in the afternoon when the temperature reached its peak. “We just haven’t experienced this kind of heat yet this year, but I’ve played on the Asian Tour and that’s 10 times hotter than this.”
Presnell owns a one-shot lead over two-time U.S. Open Champion Lee Janzen (70), Arkansas’ David Lingmerth (70) and Brian Stuard (67) of Michigan. Stuard eagled his first and last hole Friday afternoon to climb into contention.
Chris Riley posted a bogey-free, 6-under 66 to jump to fifth place, two back of the leader. He’s joined by Derek Fathauer (68) and Texan Martin Piller (71).
Eight players are only three off the pace, including Monday qualifier Morgan Hoffman, a 22-year old former All-American from Oklahoma State who turned pro last summer. Andres Gonzales, winner of the Soboba Golf Classic earlier this year is also in the half-dozen at minus-5.
Presnell pushed his way to the top of the list with his solid play off the tee. The former air conditioning mechanic from Melbourne has hit 25 of 28 fairways over the first two days.
“I think you’ve got to be smart about how you play. You can’t keep attacking tee shots,” he said. “I haven’t hit too many drivers out there. You’ve really just got to get the ball in play off the tee.”
Presnell wasn’t as sharp with his irons Friday, missing six, compared to just two misses in his opener.
“Yesterday was probably the best I’ve hit it for a long time, maybe 18 months,” said Presnell, who finished T3 in California earlier this year and entered the week No. 28 on the money list. “Today it wasn’t far off. It was off just a little bit but it was still pretty good.”
His accuracy may have been off but his putting improved enough from the first round to put him atop the second-round standings for only the second time in his career.
“I holed a number of 6- to 8- footers today,” he said. “Putts that you expect to make but you don’t always.”
--A total of 62 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 1-under 143.
--Alistair Presnell holds the 36-hole lead for only the second time in his Web.com Tour career. He posted rounds of 67-67 (-10) and was the leader after two rounds of the 2010 WNB Golf Classic in Midland, Texas. Presnell fired a 73 in the third round and a 65 in the final round to wind up at 16-under 272 and tied for second, two shots back of winner Nate Smith.
--First-round leader Omar Uresti shot a 3-over 75 and is bunched with several others at 4-under 140, tied for 14th.
--Skip Kendall, winner of this year’s Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship, matched the day’s second-best score with a 6-under 66. Kendall opened with a 5-over 77 Thursday. He vaulted from a tie for 119th to a tie for 45th and will be around to play the weekend.
--Monday qualifier Morgan Hoffman, 22, moved into contention with a 4-under 68. The former Oklahoma State All-America is at 5-under after 36 holes and tied for seventh. Hoffman is making his fourth start on Tour this year and has made the cut in each start. He also tied for 29th a couple weeks ago at the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
--30-year old Tour rookie Benoit Beisser (buy-sir) equaled the day’s best score, a 7-under 65 and made the cut for the first time in his career. Beisser, who’s been playing mini-tour events for the past seven years, hit 16 greens and missed chipping for birdie at No. 18 by inches. He stands at 3-under 141 and is tied for 22nd heading into the weekend.
--Lee Williams, winner of the Mexico Open a couple weeks ago, also shot a 7-under 65 Friday. He opened with a 75 Thursday and is at 4-under 140, tied for 14th.
--Fran Quinn, Brian Smock and Brenden Pappas all withdrew during the second round due to illness/heat. Jerod Turner withdrew during the round because of back problems. Jim Renner also withdrew during the round.
--Saturday and Sunday tee times will run from 7:50-9:40 a.m. with play in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees. Play is expected to be completed both days shortly before 3:00 p.m.
--The Web.comTour will take next week off before resuming the 2012 schedule at the Utah Championship at Willow Creek Country Club near Salt Lake City July 9-15.