Australian Alistair Presnell fired his second straight 67 Friday at Midland Country Club to get to 10-under-par 134 and take sole possession of the 36-hole lead at the WNB Golf Classic on the Nationwide Tour. Presnell rolled in a 20-foot putt for birdie on his final hole of the day to take one-stroke edge over lefty Brett Lederer headed into the weekend.
Five players are two shots back at 8 under par -- Californian Todd Fischer, South Carolina resident William McGirt, first-round co-leader Brenden Pappas, all-time Nationwide Tour money leader Darron Stiles and Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas.
Presnell, 39th on the Nationwide Tour money list, has struggled off the tee through the first two rounds, hitting just 15 of 28 fairways, but he has made up the difference with his iron game by hitting 29 of 36 greens in regulation. The 2009 Moonah Classic winner has recorded just one bogey so far this week.
“Good guessing out of the rough and getting lucky,” said Presnell, whose lone bogey was attributed to missing a three-foot putt for par on the par-4 18th hole, his ninth hole of the day. “It really is a guessing game out of the rough. You don’t know whether it’s going to jump or come out a bit dead so you have no control once it hits the green.
“If they let the greens dry out over the weekend, the scores could get real interesting,” said Presnell, who has spent the majority of his time in the rough the first two rounds. “It certainly affects how you approach your tee shot. I thought I was hitting the driver pretty straight today so I hit it on a few holes where I would have hit an iron had I not felt that way -- I took it on.”
Lederer, a native of Long Beach, Calif., slowly moved up the leaderboard in the afternoon wave with three birdies on the front nine offset by one bogey. Three more birdies on the back nine left him one shot off the lead going into the third round.
“At the start of the day my guess was I had to get to 10 under,” said Lederer, who is playing in his fourth Nationwide Tour event of the year. “Today was much easier than yesterday -- it’s kind of ironic -- yesterday in the morning it was blowing pretty good and today it wasn’t blowing at all.”
Lederer’s shot of the day came at the par-5 fourth hole, where he hit a 5-wood off the hard pan to 15 feet for eagle. Despite not making the putt he was more than happy to walk away with a birdie.
“I didn’t hit a good drive at all,” he said of his tee shot that was more than likely going to end up in the rough. “When I got to my ball I saw it was sitting perfectly on some hard pan -- which is always better than sitting down in the rough -- and I was pretty lucky to have gotten that break.”
Fischer’s 8-under 64 in the second round is the best score of the tournament through 36 holes. His stellar round included eight birdies, two bogeys and an eagle.
“I bogeyed the first hole to start the day,” said Fischer, who started looking at flights for Saturday morning before his afternoon tee time. “Then I made a putt for birdie on the second hole, chipped in for birdie on No. 3, chipped in for eagle on No. 4 and all of my putts from there just fell in.”
Stiles, 79th on the Nationwide Tour money list, recorded four birdies and an eagle en route to posting a bogey-free 6-under 66 in the second round. Stiles’ best performance this year came at the Ford Wayne Gretzky Classic, where he finished tied for seventh.
“I got pretty much everything I could out of my round today,” said Stiles, who has missed the cut in his previous seven starts. “I like my position going into the weekend for a change. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the weekend so it feels pretty good.”
Second-Round Notes: Friday’s scoring average was 70.590. … This is the first time in 49 starts Alistair Presnell has held the 36-hole lead on the Nationwide Tour. … Nick Beach rebounded from Thursday’s 80 with a 67. Despite the 13 shot swing, he finished at 3-over 147 and missed the cut by six strokes. … A total of 61 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 3-under par 141. … Among those missing the cut was Martin Piller (71-72), who has won twice this year (Stadion Classic at UGA/Cox Classic). … The 36-hole leader/co-leader has gone on to win the WNB Golf Classic seven times.