Trailing North by four shots as the day began, Mills carded a 6-under 65 for a 36-hole total of 10-under 132, two shots better than Winnipegs North and Bryn Parry of North Vancouver, BC.
Dave Christensen is at 7-under 135, while two other Canadians, Brett Bingham and Wes Martin, are four shots off the pace.
Despite an hour and a half delay in pegging it up Friday thanks to an early afternoon thunderstorm, Mills didnt seem to miss a beat, carding a 4-under 31 on his front side. He continued his hot streak after the turn, chipping in for eagle on the par-5 second, his 11th hole of the day, and was able to keep the ship righted despite three-putting for bogey twice over the final nine holes.
I think the key today was even after a couple of three-putts, I was able to keep it going, said the 25-year-old. Its Friday, and there is still a lot of golf yet. But I cant ask for anything more. This is where I wanted to be- in position to compete for first prize on the weekend.
North went through the opening 34 holes of the tournament playing bogey-free golf. Leading Mills by one shot with just two holes to go Friday, he double-bogeyed number eight before following that up with a bogey-4 on the ninth, by far the toughest hole of the tournament. Over the first two days, there have been 9 birdies on the hole compared with 122 bogeys, 13 double bogeys and one from the dreaded 'other' column. With a large hometown crowd following him throughout the day, North said he settled down after the first couple of holes, which should bode well for him Saturday when a larger gallery will follow him around the 6522-yard, par-71 track.
I dont think I can be any more nervous than I was today, so I should be fine on the weekend, reasoned North. When you should 8-under (like Thursday), it is easy to get down on yourself when you miss a couple of birdies. And when things are rolling they way they were for me, you know you will eventually make bogey.
A total of players 73 players were 1-over 143 or better and made the cut.
During an outstanding amateur career, Mills finished sixth at the NCAA National Championship while at Kent State University and helped lead Canada to the Four Nations Cup title in 2001. He grew up playing golf with Canadian rising stars Derek Gillespie and David Hearn, who was also a member of that Four Nations squad, and weeks after gaining his Canadian Tour card in 2001, he earned playing privileges on the Nationwide Tour at PGA Q-School.
I think that was a leaning experience more than anything for me, he admitted. But being friends with guys like Derek and David, it brings out the best in us. Deep down, we want to beat each other. In the past week or so, I have been working with my coach, not as much on the mechanics but more on the mental approach. Ive implemented that into my game more, and it is working.
Parry, who finished 6th at this event last year, continues his impressive run at Pine Ridge, with six consecutive rounds in the 60s.
I love this golf course, it sets up good for me, said Parry, who is staying with the sister of his girlfriend, Deborah, in Winnipeg this week. It doesnt hurt that Deb is here and we are staying at place that feels like home. A hotel can be a lonely place at times, and its nice I can get a home-cooked meal every night.
After hitting his tee shot into the left rough on the final hole, play was suspended for when a thunderstorm rolled into the area. An hour and twenty minutes later, Parry was able to dig the ball out from 220 yards and hit the edge of the green with his approach before getting up and down to save par.
That was key for me heading into the weekend, added the 31-year-old. I want to play with the best on this Tour, and any Tour, and see where I stack up.