Ex-U.S. Amateur champ Knost among three knotted at Nationwide finale

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Colt Knost is trying to dig down deep and earn a return to the PGA Tour.
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Published: Friday, October 29, 2010 | 6:44 p.m.

Joe Affrunti, Brendan Steele and 2007 U.S. Amateur champion Colt Knost are locked at 7-under 137 and share the second-round lead of the Nationwide Tour Championship at Daniel Island, the final event of the year. All three were outside the top 25 on the money list entering the Tour’s $1 million event at Rees Jones’ Ralston Course on Daniel Island and need a good finish to earn their 2011 PGA Tour cards.

Canadian David Hearn, South Carolina resident Kevin Kisner, and Texan J.J. Killeen, who celebrated his 29th birthday a week ago, are tied for fourth at 6-under 138. Two-time winner Hunter Haas, Californian James Hahn and Florida resident Rob Oppenheim share seventh place at 4-under 140.

Affrunti, who finds himself on the top of the leaderboard for the second consecutive day and is No. 34 on the money list, improved his greens in regulation stat today after hitting 13 of 18 greens -- opposed to only 10 of 18 in the first round.

“My ball striking was there today,” said Affrunti, who is second in putting through the first two rounds with 52 putts. “The conditions were tough today with the wind -- I can’t complain. Obviously I’d always like to make a few more putts, but we have 36 holes left. Hopefully I’ll make a few more birdies and take away the bogeys.”

Knost is No. 36 on the money list and hoping this week is his moment to shine and move into the top 25 when the final putt drops on Sunday afternoon.

“We all have the same goal,” said Knost, who leads the field in driving accuracy, hitting 24 of 28 fairways. “If you say you’re not nervous, you’re lying. It’s a big deal to get to the next level and I want to get back.”

Knost had a rollercoaster round with eight birdies, five bogeys and five pars.

“I knew it was going to be tough going into today,” he said. “Walking down the first hole I told my caddie we just need to hit a lot of greens and make a lot of pars, but I only ended up making five. It didn’t really go as I expected (laughing), but I managed to get a 69 out of it so I’m pleased.”

Steele, No. 30 on the money list, also finds himself at the top of the leaderboard for the second day in a row.

“It was a grind out there today,” said Steele, who is second in greens in regulation -- 27 of 36 -- with two rounds to go. “It felt like we were into the wind on every hole. I executed well today and made a couple of solid par saves on Nos. 12 and 13. I made a couple of 10 to 12 footers on those two holes, which was probably the key to my round, so that could have easily turned my round into a 75 or 76.

Steele admits that it’s tough to not think about your position on the money list.

“I’ve really done a good job working with my caddie on keeping my head away from what all is going on,” he said. “Staying focused on ours targets and yardages is all we can really do.”

Kisner, a former Georgia Bulldog, fired a 5-under 67, the low round of the day, to move within one shot of the trio atop the leaderboard. The four-time All-American is currently 11th on the money list.

“I got off to an unbelievable start,” said Kisner after going 5 under through the first six holes. “In that condition, you try to get as many as you can early because you don’t know what’s going to happen the rest of the day. I hung in there the rest of the day and made a birdie on No. 18, which was a nice way to finish.”

Kisner, who won the inaugural Mylan Classic in September, will most likely miss half of the Florida vs. Georgia football game Saturday because of his 12:15 p.m. tee time.

“I don’t know how I’m going to do all of that,” he said. “My walking scorer is probably going to get tired of me telling him to call in and find out what the score is.”

Jamie Lovemark, No. 1 on the money list, put together rounds of 69-72 and is four strokes back of the leaders. The leading money winner after play is concluded on Sunday will be fully-exempt on the PGA Tour in 2011.

Peter Tomasulo, No. 18 on the money list, is playing this week after missing the past three weeks with a broken bone in his right foot. Tomasulo was injured during a pick-up basketball game prior to the start of the Chattanooga Classic. He was No. 13 on the money list at the time. He is playing with a soft sandal this week while also using a cane and intends to play all 72 holes in order to collect “official” money and try to assure himself of a return trip to the PGA Tour next year. Tomasulo has posted rounds of 72-79.

Second-Round Notes: There is no 36-hole cut in this week’s tournament. All 59 players will play 72 holes. … The second-round scoring average was 73.068 (par 72) -- the highest single-round scoring average recorded at the Ralston Course. The toughest hole on the course was the 450-yard 16th hole, which played to an average of 4.441. … No players had bogey-free rounds on Friday. … Last year’s second-round scoring average was 70.293 and the winning score was 21 under par. .. Paul Claxton is playing in his ninth Nationwide Tour Championship, a Nationwide Tour record. Claxton is tied for 14th after rounds of 71-71. … Won Joon Lee bounced back from a 9-over 81 in Thursday’s opener with a 1-under 71.