The wind picked up during the second round Friday and carried the trio of Shawn Warren of Windham, Maine; Nick Bailes of Brentwood, Tenn.; and Adam Rainaud of South Hadley, Mass., into the lead midway through the 34th Callaway Golf PGA Assistant Championship at PGA Golf Club.
The three players are tied at 6-under-par 138 on the Wanamaker Course.
Warren, who led after the opening round with a sparkling 7-under-par 65, struggled with the wind, but finished with a solid back nine and a second-round 73.
"The conditions were definitely harder out there today, and that made it more interesting," said Warren, a PGA apprentice at Falmouth (Maine) Country Club. "I made some costly mistakes but picked it up on the back nine to close pretty strong."
Bailes and Rainaud played in the same group over the first two rounds. Bailes, a PGA apprentice at Brentwood (Tenn.) Country Club, followed up an opening-round 67 with a 71 on Friday.
"I had it going early again today," said Bailes, who had three birdies and no bogeys on the front nine to jumpstart his round. "Even though the wind picked up and I didn't play as well on the back nine, I like where I am heading into the weekend."
Rainaud, a PGA apprentice at Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, Mass., played nearly flawless golf en route to a second-round 68.
"You can't beat no bogeys in a round," said Rainaud. "I've only missed five greens in two rounds and have been hitting great iron shots. I wasn't in a lot of trouble today and just wacked the ball out there in play."
Rainaud and Bailes, who also played a practice round together on Wednesday, are very comfortable playing together.
"We've really had a good time the last three days," said Rainaud. "We both were very calm and not having to think about golf the whole time.
Frank Bensel of Purchase, N.Y., is alone in fourth place after a second-round 69.
"I hit the ball solid all day and made a bunch of birdies," said Bensel, who recorded six birdies in his second round. "I like it when the wind blows because I keep the ball low and when I am hitting it good it leaves my ball alone."
Karen Paolozzi, a PGA apprentice at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md., and one of only two women competing in the Championship, shot a second-round 68 and sits in a tie for 16th overall.
"I really wanted to make the cut and play well the first two rounds," said Paolozzi. "Now I have to try and go as low as possible because you can't hold back now."
Jennifer Heinz, a PGA assistant professional at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., shot a second-round 76 and made the cut as well.
The par-72 Wanamaker Course again proved to be a stern test, yielding a 74.57 second-round scoring average.
Following Friday's play, the field was reduced to the low 70 scorers and ties, with 71 players making the cut at 5-over-par 149.
The Championship featured 126 PGA assistant professionals and apprentices. The format was changed in 2010 to include the top four finishers from last year's Championship as well as 122 players who advanced through their Section Championship.
Also a stake, provided the Champion meets eligibility requirements, is a coveted spot in the 44th PGA Professional National Championship, June 26-29, 2011, at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club.
Callaway Golf has returned as the title sponsor for the second consecutive year.
The PGA Assistant Championship continues a tradition of excellence in bringing together some of the most talented players in The PGA of America as well as being models of the caliber of members who make up the world's largest working sports organization. Past champions include past Ryder Cup Team members Fred Funk and Loren Roberts, and past PGA Professional National Champions Darrell Kestner, Tim Thelen and Bruce Zabriski.