Kyle Stanley took advantage of his late tee time Friday, shooting a 4-under 66 after wind gusts of more than 20 mph had abated some, for a one-stroke lead in the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Stanley, a PGA Tour rookie from Gig Harbor who is seeking his first tour title, was at 6-under 134.
South African Rory Sabbatini was one shot back after his 64, which matched the tournament’s best round since it moved to PGA National in 2007.
Charl Schwartzel was third at 3 under after a 69, and Ricky Barnes (68), Jerry Kelly (67), Stuart Appleby (70) and Tommy Gainey (67) were 2 under.
Stanley had six birdies, including three in a row, to offset two bogeys. He played holes 15 through 17, the daunting stretch known as the Bear Trap, in 1 under.
“The wind probably wasn’t as strong as it was Thursday,” Stanley said. “Late in my round it wasn’t really a factor.”
The 23-year-old Stanley, who played at Bellarmine Prep and Clemson, turned pro in 2009. He earned his place on tour this year through qualifying school. He had a career-best 13th-place finish last week in the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well all year but haven’t quite put four good rounds together,” he said. “I’m getting better, and that’s the main thing.”
Among those five shots behind at 1 under were Lee Westwood, who fell to No. 2 in the rankings this week behind Martin Kaymer, and first-round leader Spencer Levin. Westwood shot a 69, and Levin a 72.
Matt Kuchar’s tour-best streak of 153 consecutive holes without a three-putt ended, but he shot a 70 and was also 1 under. He won the tournament in 2002.
The cut was at 6 over, highest on the tour this year. Tacoma’s Michael Putnam failed to make the cut after rounds of 75-73 for an 8-over 148.
Scores improved in the second round to an average of 72.3, compared with 73.9 in the opening round.
“It was much tougher Thursday morning than it was this afternoon,” Kelly said.
MASTERS MIND DIES
Frank Chirkinian, the longtime golf producer for CBS who helped turn the Masters into one of the most watched events in sports television, died Friday at his home in North Palm Beach, Fla., after a long bout with lung cancer. He was 84.
Chirkinian was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame just last month. He will be inducted May 9 in St. Augustine, Fla.