(Reuters) – Canada’s Adam Hadwin turned red hot at the turn, reeling off five birdies in a row from the 10th on his way to a seven-under-par 64 on Friday for a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Valspar Championship in Florida.
Hadwin, who has a knack for going low as evidenced by the 59 he fired in January in finishing second at the CareerBuilder Challenge, held a 36-hole lead for the first time at a PGA event as he sought a maiden victory on the tour in his 78th start.
“I hit some more quality golf shots today, gave myself a ton of looks out there and the putter stayed hot,” Hadwin, who needed just 25 putts, told Golf Channel.
Right behind the bearded Canadian was first-round leader Jim Herman, who followed a brilliant opening 62 on the tree-lined Copperhead course with a level par 71 for a nine-under 133 total at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor.
“I didn’t hit the ball as close as I did yesterday,” said Herman, who opened with 11 straight pars. “But I’m happy with my position so close to the lead.”
Another shot back was South African Tyrone Van Aswegan, who started at the 10th and made the turn at five-under 30 on his way to a 65 for 134.
Lurking three strokes off the pace was British Open winner Henrik Stenson, a late starter who struggled with the swirling breezes after opening with a 64.
The Swede reached only 11 of 18 greens in regulation as he posted a 71 to stand tied for fourth.
“Slightly gusty conditions,” said Stenson. “It’s not blowing a lot. . . But it keeps on swirling and turning on us.
“So it’s quite tricky out there in the afternoon. I thought I kept my patience. Yeah, I could’ve been a shot or two better, but that’s golf.”
Seventy players made the cut set at even par 142.
Among those going home were double Masters winner Bubba Watson (71-144), former world number one Luke Donald (73-144) and three-time winner this season Justin Thomas (74-145).
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Gene Cherry)