KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Albuquerque's D.J. Brigman took advantage of perfect conditions Friday morning, shooting an 8-under 64 to take the lead at the Knoxville Open presented by Food City. Brigman finished the day at 13-under-par 131.
|Inside the Numbers|
|Brigman thru 36 Holes|
Out in the first group of the day, Brigman surged to the lead with a bogey-free round, giving him a two-shot cushion over first-round co-leader Jarrod Lyle of Australia, who shot a 5-under 67 for an 11-under 133 total.
Brigman, who had 26 putts Friday, started slowly with a par at the reachable par-5 first hole but reeled off birdies at holes four, five, seven, eight, nine and 10. After adding two more birdies at the 13th and 14th holes Brigman made a six-foot, par-saving putt on the 15th hole before closing with three more pars.
"That was a huge up-and-down for me on 15," said Brigman. "The key has been momentum this week. A couple of times I got up-and-down yesterday for par and kept my momentum going. Today I made the putts to keep it going."
After missing the cut at last week's U.S. Open, Brigman came to Knoxville reasonably confident, having done some good work with his coach, Mike Bender, at Torrey Pines.
"I've been striking the ball really well and I knew I would give myself lots of chances. I committed to a lot of golf shots and played aggressive throughout the whole round," he said. "I wasn't going to let my score dictate how I played."
At 25th on the money list with $95,791, Brigman is looking to secure his place in "The 25" and earn his way back to the PGA TOUR where he was a member in 2004, 2005 and 2007. "My three years on the TOUR and four years out here, that's experience, that helps me stay focused," said Brigman.
Lyle arrived at the course in the afternoon and saw Brigman's 13-under score already posted. "It's the mark you want to try and get to," said Lyle. "It's one of those things. If you can get somewhere near it at the end of the day then it's been a good day."
"Two shots back is a good place to be," said Lyle, who hit 16 of 18 greens Friday. "I'm going to be the one chasing and that's where I like to be. I don't want to count my chickens too early but I'm in a good position."
Currently sixth on the money list, Lyle is more comfortable now after feeling the heat earlier this year when he was No. 1. "It's pretty pressure-packed up there," he said. "I was number one for about five weeks and it was hard trying to keep that spot and have everybody breathing down your neck."
Maybe the fact that Lyle's parents are here from Australia this week will be a good omen for him. "I had a feeling once I'd qualified (for last week's U.S. Open) one of them would turn up for the Open," said Lyle. "When both of them said they were coming I thought that was pretty cool. It's nice to see some familiar faces again."
Smith, winner of the 2002 Buick Classic on the PGA TOUR, leads the greens in regulation statistics with 75.79% this season. After six birdies in his first 12 holes Smith closed to within one stroke of the lead but a double bogey at the fourth (his 13th hole) dropped him to 9 under. He picked up a further birdie to finish the day third at 10 under.
John Kimbell, last year's winner of the South Georgia Classic, tied the Knoxville Open's best birdie-eagle streak during his round of 64. Kimbell birdied Nos. 16-18 then made eagle at the par-5 first hole.
Philip Pettitt, Jr., a 23-year-old sponsor invite who played golf at the University of Tennessee, shot a bogey-free 66 and jumped into the top 20. Pettitt began his round at the 10th hole and made six birdies in a nine-hole stretch, starting at the 14th hole.
First-Round News & Notes: Neal Lancaster withdrew before the start of the second round. Lee Curry and Brian Smock (neck injury) withdrew during the round. ... The cut came at 3 under par, the lowest cut of the season, with 65 players advancing to the weekend. ... The most difficult hole during the first two days was No. 4 averaging 4.146. ... D.J. Brigman shot 5-under 31 on his closing nine (front nine) Thursday to shoot 67. Friday he opened the front nine with 5-under 31. ... Brigman and Kimbell equaled the Fox Den CC course record of 64. ... Caleb Marsh, the 19-year-old amateur who Monday qualified, shot 71-67 to advance to the weekend.