Peter Malnati fired a 3-under-par 68 on Friday and finished the second round with a one-stroke lead at 7-under 135 at the Wells Fargo Championship, competed under mostly sunny and warm conditions at Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, N.C.
Aaron Wise shot his second straight 68 and is tied with Jason Day of Australia (67) just a stroke off Malnati’s lead. Charl Schwartzel of South Africa (who carded a 67), and Paul Casey of England (68) are tied for fourth place at 137.
Malnati, 30, has won once in his 97-event, five-year PGA Tour career, capturing the Sanderson Farms Championship in November 2015. His best finish this season was a tie for 30th at the Safeway Open in November.
Malnati began his round on the back nine, carding a bogey on his second hole and answering with birdies on the 15th and 18th. He added three birdies and a bogey on the front nine before making par on the ninth hole to earn the right to sleep on the lead.
Just nine shots separate Malnati from those players who ended Friday’s round on the cutline at 2-over 144, meaning the weekend is set up for a wild finish, especially with rain predicted for Sunday’s final round.
Johnson Wagner fired a 71 on Friday and is alone in for sixth at 138, three shots off the lead. Sam Saunders (69), Kyle Stanley (72), Nick Watney (67), Charles Howell III (68), Sam Burns (70), and Emiliano Grillo of Argentina (71) all are tied for seventh at 139.
Bryson DeChambeau shot 65 for the round’s lowest score and is tied for 14th at 2-under 140.
First-round leader John Peterson was as bad Friday as he was good on Thursday, carding a 77 in the second round after a 65 over the first 18 holes. Peterson is among a large group tied for 27th at even-par 142 along with Justin Thomas (69), Masters champion Patrick Reed (71) and Webb Simpson (70).
Tiger Woods birdied the final hole to get to 2-over for the tournament and make the cut for the weekend. Twenty golfers are at 144 with Woods, including Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Adam Hadwin of Canada, and reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka.
Among those players missing the cut were Kevin Kisner and Gary Woodland (146); Australia’s Danny Lee and England’s Tommy Fleetwood (148); Geoff Ogilvy of Australia (who struggled to an 81 on Friday after opening the tournament with a 68); Smylie Kaufman (17-over 159), and Derek Fathauer (who shot 83-80 and finished at 21-over for the two rounds).
Bob Estes, Davis Love III and Andrew Landry withdrew from the event after the first round.
–Field Level Media