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Atwal Assumes Lead in McGladrey Classic; Love One Back
Arjun Atwal fired a 7-under 63 to take over the lead after 36 holes of the McGladrey Classic. The $4 million event, part of the PGA Tour's Fall Series, started Thursday at the Seaside Course on Sea Island, Ga.
The 39-year-old from India carded eight birdies and a bogey to reach 10-under 130, one stroke ahead of tournament host Davis Love III (66) and Jim Furyk (65).
Atwal headed into the tournament ranked 175th on the Tour's money list, so he needs a good showing this week to get inside the top-125 and retain his Tour card for next year. "Yeah, I'm in a desperate situation," said the winner of the 2010 Wyndham Championship. "I got no choice to either win or finish in the top two, I think my caddie figured out. So I just gotta grind out."
Atwal attributed his fine round to a slight putting change - moving his hands higher on the grip. "I just made a technical little adjustment," said Atwal, who needed only 25 putts Friday. "My hands were getting really low, and I came out here, you know, on Tuesday and I didn't feel right. Didn't feel right, so I kept lifting them up, lifting them up, and now I feel like I'm feeling good over it again. That's usually been the strength of my game is my putting."
Love likes where he is in the tournament, which is taking place right down the road from his place of residence. "I'm hitting the ball real well," noted the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup captain. "I wouldn't say I've gotten everything out of the way. I've hit the ball. But it's my home course and I kind of know my way around it, so hopefully I can keep it going."
Furyk, who had a tough time in the Ryder Cup and has not played competitively since the biennial event in Chicago late last month, is pleased with how things are going, despite the break in action. "I didn't really know what to expect," said the 42-year-old Pennsylvanian, who carded five birdies on the day. "I took a bunch of time off. I only played three rounds of golf in those two weeks, and I played well when I did play, but I felt a little rusty on the way in.
"I felt mechanically I was hitting the ball on the range," Furyk added. "I have a lot of confidence in my ball striking right now, but you know, when you don't play a lot, sometimes it's the course management, making the good decisions. And so far that's all kind of coming back to me slowly and I've kind of gained momentum as the last two rounds have gone on."
Tied for fourth at 132 are first-round co-leader Bud Cauley, who followed up his course-tying 62 with a 70, David Toms (67) and Australian Gavin Coles (65).
"I just didn't hit my irons as well today," admitted Cauley, a 22-year-old Tour rookie from Florida who, after blistering the Seaside layout Thursday with eight birdies, could only manage a birdie and a bogey in the second round. "I drove the ball well again, but there were tough pins. They moved them forward a little bit this morning, and it's a little bit softer, so it's probably a little bit longer for me. And I just didn't hit my irons in there as well."
Among those tied for seventh at 7-under 133 are Michael Thompson (68), Brian Gay (68), D.J. Trahan (67), Chad Campbell (67), Aussie Mathew Goggin (66) and Brit Greg Owen (69).
Thompson noted that the conditions were a bit different than the ideal, virtually windless, weather the players enjoyed on Thursday. "It was a little breezy today," said the Arizona native, who finished tied for second in this year's U.S. Open. "I think this is probably the most difficult wind out here. I can't remember what direction it's from, but a lot of the holes on say 10 to 14 are playing dead into the wind and you really don't want dead into the wind on those holes.
"So you know, it just played tough. You had to hit a lot of good shots, had to hit it solid. Thankful that I was playing with Boo Weekley. He's a ball-striker, so I kind of got a good feel from him. You know, I'm really proud of how I did. It played tough this morning."
The other 18-hole co-leader, Marco Dawson, followed up his 62 with a 75 that involved only one birdie, four bogeys and a double on the opening par-4. The 48-year-old born in Germany, who now lives in Florida, slipped down the leaderboard into a tie for 40th at 3-under 137.
The cut was set at 1-under 139. Among those heading home is John Daly, who shot rounds of 70 and 72. Tom Pernice Jr. also had a tough outing. While posting a 67 to start the tournament, the 53-year-old - who also plays on the Champions Tour - ballooned to a 77 Friday.
For complete scoring details, visit http://www.pgatour.com/r/leaderboard.