The Floridian took on the challenging Fazio Canyons layout at Barton Creek Resort & Spa and came away unscathed Friday, posting a 4-under 68. His two-day total of 10-under 132 is one shot better than American rookie Ben Hayes, who posted a 7-under 63 at the Crenshaw Cliffside course.
Overnight leader Craig Kanada is in third spot, two shots off the pace.
Canadians Chris Baryla and Darren Griff as well as Austin native and PGA Tour regular Omar Uresti are at minus-7.
Griff came in with a 7-under 65 at Fazio Canyons, which has by far played the tougher of the two courses this week.
New Zealander Nick Davey put up the lowest number of the week, an 8-under 62 at Crenshaw, to move into a tie for 13th at 4-under.
Under the pro-am format, competitors played each course once before the field was reduced Friday.
A total of 61 professionals were even par or better and made the cut in the professional tournament. The low 15 two-man teams advanced to Saturdays final pro-am round.
The professionals with play the final two rounds at the Crenshaw track.
Ford, who won the 2001 CanAm Days Championship and holds down status on the Nationwide Tour this year, comes from impressive bloodlines; his grandfather, Doug Ford, won The Masters in 1957 and the Canadian Open two years later.
Baryla, the runner-up at last years Michelin Morelia Classic, opened with a 4-under 66 at the Crenshaw course Thursday. Starting his second round on the back nine, Baryla missed his only green in regulation in two days on the par-4 15th. He was able to pitch on and save par from twenty feet. On the next hole, Baryla had to take a drop when his tee shot found a hazard but he air-mailed a 3-wood from 265 yards to within 20 feet and two-putted to save par again.
Theres no doubt that is the tougher of the two courses, said Baryla of Fazio Canyons. Nothing against the Crenshaw course, but you can put up a big number on the Fazio in a hurry. This course penalizes your misses a lot more.
With the final two rounds to be contested on the Crenshaw course, Baryla reasoned it could very well turn into a good ol shootout in the Lone Star State.
Well, someone is going to take it low. Might as well be me.
Baryla had an impressive amateur career, highlighted by a berth in the 2003 U.S. Open when he was just 20 years old. A few months later, Baryla became first Canadian amateur in 20 years to make the cut at the Bell Canadian Open.
With his college career at the University of Texas-El Paso in the books, Baryla says he can now focus on his game full-time, something he hasnt been able to do in recent years.
As for trying to make up ground on Ford Saturday, Baryla maintains he will use the same approach and allow the chips to fall where they may.
You cant go out there and force the issue. Im three back with two days to go - Im not going to worry about how many shots I have to make up. If its there, its going to happen. If not, well, thats how it goes. Maybe another week.