GREENSBORO, N.C. – Brandt Snedeker feels right at home in central North Carolina, no matter which course he plays.
Snedeker shot a 65 Friday and shared the lead with Arjun Atwal at 12-under 128 after two rounds of the Wyndham Championship.
Snedeker had an eagle and three birdies to move into familiar territory atop the leaderboard of golf’s final pre-playoff event. He won this tournament in 2007 and shared the lead after a rainy first day last year.
He again has company in the lead: Atwal, who lost his tour card last month and is bidding to become the first Monday qualifier to win an ensuing tournament in 24 years. He followed his tournament-record-tying first round with a 67.
Since the Wyndham returned to the par-70 Sedgefield Country Club in 2008, both winners – Carl Pettersson in 2008 and Ryan Moore last year – either held or shared the lead after two rounds.
Kevin Streelman (65), Lucas Glover (65) and John Rollins (65) were at 11 under, while Webb Simpson (64) was at 130. Justin Leonard, whose 63 was the best round of the day, joined Boo Weekley (67) and Tim Herron (64) at 131.
Snedeker’s only tour victory came at the Wyndham, when it was held across town at Forest Oaks Country Club. He was in the lead last year when severe weather forced an early end to the first day of play, and finished in a tie for fifth, two strokes behind Moore.
“I feel comfortable here. Though the golf courses are different, they’re the same kind of grass and greens, stuff I grew up on, very similar,” Snedeker said. “And I don’t know what it is about this time of year. I seem to be playing my best golf come this time of year. I don’t know if it’s I’m playing into form, or see the finish line at the end of the year.”
Snedeker, who was two strokes behind Atwal at 7 under after the first round, came up with a second consistent trip around Sedgefield, calling it “the best back-to-back ball-striking rounds I’ve had in a while.” He started on the back nine and eagled the par-5 15th, then had three birdies on the front nine of his bogey-free round.
And the Wyndham record of 61 could have been matched for a second straight day, had Snedeker – who has the best putting average among tour players – not missed four putts 8 feet or shorter.
“I left quite a few out there,” Snedeker said, adding that missing those putts “is very unlike me. … Frustrating to go play that good of golf and the one thing I’m normally the best at – putting – wasn’t there. But it never seems to work where you got everything working at the same time.”
Atwal, who played his way into the Wyndham field by sharing first place at the qualifier at Forest Oaks, isn’t eligible to play in The Barclays or any of the other playoff events because his minor medical exemption ran out when he came up short on the money list following the RBC Canadian Open. He said his main goal is to earn his card for 2011 – something he can do by climbing the earnings lists on the PGA and Nationwide tours, or, of course, by winning.
“There’s no doubt. I’m going to definitely be thinking about winning,” he said. “If I get into contention on Sunday on the back nine, I won’t be scared. Hopefully, my swing holds up and we’ll see what happens.”
Atwal bogeyed No. 10 after sending his drive into the rough. Streelman found the water during his double-bogey on No. 16.
Rollins made a late charge up the leaderboard in the afternoon, with birdies on seven of 10 holes – including four straight midway through the round – to move to 11 under. He had a chance to share the lead, but left his approach on the par-4 9th about 45 feet shy of the flagstick, chipped within inches of the pin and tapped in for par.
“I feel like I should be tied for the lead at worst, but I’m only one shot back,” Rollins said.
A total 78 players made the cut of 3 under.
Among those on the bubble for the playoffs, which begin next week in New Jersey for the top 125 players on the points list, No. 123 Andres Romero (7 under) and No. 125 Michael Letzig (6 under) advanced to the weekend. No. 126 Mike Weir (2 under) and No. 129 Brett Quigley (2 under) didn’t.
One more who didn’t make it: Anthony Kim, who at No. 14 on the points list was the highest-ranked player in the field. The potential candidate for the U.S. Ryder Cup team was 2 over and missed his second straight cut.
“I know I put the captain in a tough spot here … but hopefully, with enough practice, I’ll start getting my game into shape … and make it an easy decision,” Kim said.