Past Champion Kirk Hanefeld of Acton, Mass., extended his lead to six strokes Friday in the 23rd Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship, making a statement with a second-round 5-under-par 67 at Creighton Farms and registering an event-record 11-under-par 133 total.
Under perfect scoring conditions, the 55-year-old PGA Life Member and 2008 Champion offset a pair of bogeys with seven birdies to eclipse the previous 36-hole mark of 134 by Reed Hughes of Senatobia, Miss., in 2006.
Leading the chase to Hanefeld is Robert Linville of Greensboro, N.C., who had not made the cut in two previous appearances. He turned in a 67 at River Creek Club in nearby Leesburg, sitting alone at 139.
Ken Martin of Wellington, Fla., and Fred Holton of Montgomery, Ala., share third at 140.
The 264-player field continued the "preferred lie" rule. Overall, 88 players made the cut at 6-over-par 150, with the final 36 holes being hosted Saturday and Sunday at Creighton Farms.
"I feel pretty good all around with my game and where I stand," said Hanefeld. "Both rounds could have been better, but I won't complain. Everybody makes a few mistakes and after 36 holes I am happy."
Creighton Farms did not play as difficult as it did in the opening round,, but the 6,954-yard Jack Nicklaus Signature Course still averaged over a half-stroke higher (77.08 to 76.26) than River Creek Club. Hanefeld made it look easy on a course that he had counted among the most difficult that he has played.
"It is harder over here at Creighton Farms," said Hanefeld. "They took it a little easy on us today, but I don't expect that over the weekend. This is a terrific golf course and very difficult. I am just going to play my game and play my best and see where I fit in at the end of Sunday."
Linville, who worked hard to salvage an even-par 72 Thursday at Creighton Farms, recorded a near-flawless 67 at River Creek Club Friday, spoiled only by a miscue off the tee at 15 resulting in a double bogey. After two missed cuts, Linville is relishing his third trip to the Championship.
"This is a traditional layout, and really nice. Both days the weather was perfect, we didn't have any wind," said Linville, 53, the PGA director of instruction of Precision Golf School in Greensboro. "The green complexes at Creighton Farms are very difficult. To get through there even-par yesterday, I was happy about that. We finished at dark last night. I had a stretch in the middle of today's round where I just made a lot of birdies. I made all the putts when I hit it close."
Linville birdied 5, 6, 7 and, 8, then 11, 12 and 14, before he mishit his drive on the 391-yard, par-4 15th hole. "I hit a really bad tee shot on 15, and kind of hung on coming in," he said. "Everything within 10 feet, I made today. The greens over here are just friendlier."
Martin, a PGA teaching professional at Village Golf Club in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., turned in a Creighton Farms competitive course record 6-under-par 66 to vault into position to contend for his first National Championship after finishing in a tie for fourth in 2010.
2011 SENIOR PNC
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He broke the previous record of 67 by Jim Chancey, who competed earlier this year at the Cannonball Invitational, an event on the Sunbelt Senior Tour.
Martin credited his superb putting on the small and undulating greens of Creighton Farms.
"I made a lot of putts today and I sure didn't do that yesterday [at River Creek Club]. That was the primary difference," said Martin. "I hit a lot of putts on the edges yesterday and today they were center cut."
Martin, 52, who birdied five of six holes between Nos. 3 and 8, has been playing well recently, but it was his putting that held him back.
"Recently, it's been a matter of when the putts are going to start falling," said Martin. "Today was that day. I hope the magic eye keeps working on the putter."
Defending champion Robert Thompson of Huntsville, Texas sits in a tie for 20th, after a second-round 76.
The Championship is composed of Senior PGA Professionals representing the 41 PGA Sections and 42 states, will compete for a total purse of $285,000. Southworth Development, with headquarters in Newton, Mass., is in its first year of title sponsorship. Mercedes-Benz is a presenting sponsor.
Begun in 1989, the Senior PGA Professional National Championship is modeled after the PGA Professional National Championship, with a field of 50-and-older senior PGA Professionals who advanced through 41 Section Championships conducted from July through September this year.
The top 35 finishers in the National Championship earn a berth in the 73rd Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid, which will be conducted May 24-27, 2012, at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich.
The top eight finishers, including ties, will receive exemptions into the 2012 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship.
The top five finishers earn an exemption into the final stage of the 2011 Champions Tour National Finals.