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    • Putnam takes 36-hole lead at WNB Golf Classic

    • Andrew Putnam's back-to-back 66s moved him into the lead at Midland CC. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)Andrew Putnam's back-to-back 66s moved him into the lead at Midland CC. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

    MIDLAND, Texas – Andrew Putnam fired his second consecutive 6-under 66 Friday at Midland Country Club and into sole possession of the 36-hole lead at the WNB Golf Classic. Putnam’s two-day total of 132 is one better than veteran Tom Gillis, whose 8-under 64 moved him to 11-under par after two windswept days in West Texas.

    One day after celebrating his 23rd birthday, leading money winner and two-time champion Carlos Ortiz carded a 4-under 68 to get to 9-under 135 and remain within striking distance along with transplanted Texan Rod Pampling (69).

    The next set of challengers are jammed together at 7-under 137 and include Oscar Fraustro (69), Richard S. Johnson (69), Harold Varner III (69), Trevor Murphy (71), Mathew Goggin (68), Josh Broadaway (67) and Justin Thomas (68).

    “We knew the wind was supposed to kick up on the back side,” said Putnam, who birdied five of the first seven holes in the morning. “This is the type of course you can play in the wind. I think it’s built for wind and you can still play good golf when it’s blowing.”

    The wind has been blowing pretty steadily for the first two days and the forecast calls for similar conditions on the weekend as the field will try to chase down the 25-year-old Putnam, who, like most of the leaders, benefitted from a late Thursday/early Friday draw. Of the top 25 players in the standings, 17 came out of that side of the draw.

    “This is about as good as we can get,” said the leader of the starting times. “The wind is always blowing here. It’s one of those courses where the ball runs and there’s a decent amount of space if you can keep it inside the trees.”

    Putnam, still in search of his first career win, entered the week No. 6 on the money list as the Tour reaches the one-third mark on Sunday. His closest pursuer is 45-year-old Tom Gillis of Michigan who admitted he was a bit creaky for his 8:15 a.m. tee time.

    “I was fairly sleepy. I did a little workout on the range and my body was a little slow. I was thinking it was going to be a battle,” said Gillis. “I think as you get older you have more of those mornings. At that point you’re expectations go down a little bit.”

    Expectations aside, Gillis combined conservative tactics with a hot putter to produce the low round of the week.

    “If you’re going to win out here you’re going to have to keep going low. That’s how it is anywhere, it doesn’t matter where you play or what Tour,” he said. “I’m not reckless. There are just some pins that I won’t go at and some that I will. I think it’s easier as you get farther under (par). You get it going and it’s a little like playing on house money.”

    Ortiz, who has two wins in his last three starts, continues to hold the hot hand and is in good position to collect his third trophy and earn an instant promotion to the PGA TOUR.

    The former University of North Texas standout chalked up three quick birdies to start his round before a semi-shank of some hard dirt squirted his golf ball into some water and resulted in a double-bogey.

    “I know I have to be patient and try to forget it as quick as possible,” he said. “I know I’m hitting the ball good and I’m going to have some good shots in the next few holes. I stay patient and the birdies are going to come.”

    He bounced back with birdies at Nos. 7 and 9 and was steady with one birdie and a string of pars on the back to keep playing partner Putnam within sight.

    Andrew Putnam fires second straight 66 to lead at WNB Golf Classic
    • Round Recaps

      Andrew Putnam fires second straight 66 to lead at WNB Golf Classic

    Second-Round Notes:

    • Friday weather: Mostly sunny, hot and windy. Winds steady S to SSW 15-20 mph with gusts to 20 mph. High of 93.

    • A total of 77 players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 1-under 143.

    • Of the 77 who made the cut, only four posted above-par scores in round two.

    • The tournament record for 36 holes is 16-under 128 by Kevin Johnson, who posted scores of 64-64 at the Club at Mission Dorado in 2000.

    • Only seven of 22 second-round leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win this tournament. The last 36-hole leader to win was Marc Leishman in 2008.

    • New Mexico’s Zach Fullerton tied the tournament mark for the best birdie-eagle streak. Fullerton went B-B-E-B for a 5-under streak in four holes starting at No. 2. He is the fourth player in tournament history to have such a streak.

    • Glen Day (79) withdrew prior to the start of the second round.

    • Saturday’s third-round play will be in twosomes off the first tee. Times will run from 7:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    • Andrew Putnam has been atop the 36-hole leaderboard once previously in his brief Web.com Tour career. He was part of a three-way tie for the lead after two rounds of the 2014 season-opening Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship. Putnam was 8-under at the time and added a 3-under 68 in the third round, which turned out to be the final round when rain washed away any chance for a 72-hole event. Putnam was the runner-up to Alex Cejka in Bogota.

    • Putnam’s statistics for the first two rounds:
                16 of 28 fairways -- T102
                28 of 36 greens in regulation -- T10
                54 putts -- T9

    • Alistair Presnell had a pair of eagles on par-5s in round two. He hit driver, 5-iron to 9 feet on No. 4 and then used the same clubs at No. 12 and rolled in a 4-foot eagle putt.

    • Rookie Zach Fullerton attended New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs, N.M., which is about 90 minutes from Midland. Fullerton, who then attended New Mexico State University, rebounded from an opening 74 with a 5-under 67 to make the cut. It’s just the second cut made for the 27-year old in six Tour starts this year. Fullerton had seven birdies and an eagle in the second round, along with four bogeys.

    • Harold Varner III is one of five players tied at 7-under 137 and five back of leader Andrew Putnam. Varner, a rookie out of East Carolina University, overcame a scoring error on his part Thursday that cost him a stroke. Varner made a birdie-3 on No. 17 but wrote down a par-4 on the scorecard and then signed it and turned it in. The mistake cost him a shot as he was required to keep the higher score as part of his total.

    • Australian Alistair Presnell enjoyed a nice stretch of six consecutive 3’s on his card, which consisted of an eagle, three birdies and two pars. Presnell’s run was from No. 7 to No 12 in the afternoon wave. He shot a 5-under 67 and is 4-under through 36 holes and T26.

    • Best rounds of the day:
    64 – Tom Gillis
    66 – Andrew Putnam, Steve Saunders, Jose de Jesus Rodriguez
    67 – Josh Broadaway, Andres Echavarria, Derek Fathauer, Zach Fullerton, Jin Park, Andy Pope, Alistair Presnell

    • Putnam leads the tournament with 14 birdies. Tom Gillis and Carlos Ortiz each have 13.

    • Two of the 12 Monday qualifiers advanced to the weekend:

    Thomas Campbell 73-70—143 (-1) T62
    Nicholas Delio 72-70—142 (-2) T52

    • Four of the five different 2014 tournament winners are in the field this week:

    Pacific Rubiales Colombia Alex Cejka 71-71—142 (-2) T52
    Chile Classic Adam Hadwin 70-74—144 (E) m/c
    Brasil Champions Jon Curran 71-76—147 (+3) m/c
    Panama Claro Champ./Mexico Open Carlos Ortiz 67-68—135 (-9)  T3

    • There are a pair of past champions in the field this week:

    2009 Garrett Willis 75-71—146 (+2) m/c
    2003 D.J. Brigman 70-69—139 (-5) T19

    • Trevor Murphy (66-71/T5) has not played on the Web.com Tour since late in the 2012 season. Murphy was a member of the Tour in 2010 and 2011 but made only four starts the next year – he finished T22 at the Utah Championship, T7 at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Invitational and missed the cut at the Cox Classic and the Chiquita Classic.

    • Murphy is in this week’s field on a sponsor exemption from the Tour’s umbrella sponsor, Web.com.

    • Sponsor exemption Alex Carpenter has posted scores of 73-70—143 (-1) to advance to the weekend despite hitting only 12 of 28 fairways and 22 of 36 greens in regulation. Carpenter was a four-time Division II All-America at Abilene Christian University and a two-time DII Jack Nicklaus Award winner. He owns virtually every school record for the Wildcats and closed his stellar career with an NCAA record 20 collegiate tournament victories. Carpenter was also a four-time winner of the Lone Star Conference’s Player of the Year award. Carpenter is a native of Little Rock, Ark., and is making only his second career start on Tour – he missed the cut at last year’s Mylan Classic, where he earned a start via his collegiate resume.

    • Players who posted bogey-free rounds this week:
    R1 – 66 – Trevor Murphy; 67 – Travis Bertoni; 68 – Albin Choi
    R2 – 64 – Tom Gillis; 67 – Jin Park; 69 – Chris Baker; 70 – Casey Wittenberg

    NEXT WEEK: The Web.com Tour heads east to Valdosta, Ga., for the South Georgia Classic presented by First State Bank and Trust Co. at Kinderlou Forest Golf Club. Last year Will Wilcox earned his first career title with a four-stroke win over three players. Wilcox posted a 63 on Saturday and opened up a seven-shot lead heading into the final round. Nobody got closer than four on the final day as Wilcox picked up a check for $117,000 and moved from No. 55 to No. 3 on the money list at the one-third mark of the 2013 season.

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