Dougherty, the 32-year-old PGA head professional at Milburn Country Club in Overland Park, Kan., had a 12-under 131 total – a stroke better than the mark set by Snead in 1971. Dougherty opened with a 67 on the East Course,
Jeff Sorenson was two strokes back along with Scott Erdmann. Sorenson, a teaching professional at Columbia Country Club in Minneapolis, and Erdmann, a PGA assistant professional at Oswego Lake Country Club in Oregon, had 68s. Erdmann also played the West Course.
Eight-five players in the 312-man field made the cut for the final two rounds on the East Course, the site of Byron Nelson’s 1940 PGA Championship victory. The final top 20 players will earn spots in the PGA Championship on Aug. 11-14 at Atlanta Athletic Club.
“There are a lot of good players out here, and it’s fun to contend,” Dougherty said. “I had been told that the East is tougher than the West, but I like both of them. You have to work the ball, and that’s what I like to do.”
Dougherty finished his bogey-free round with an 8-foot par putt. He needed only 52 putts in the first two rounds and had only one bogey. Rob Shipman, the PGA director of instruction at Milburn, is working as Dougherty’s caddie.
“I got one of my best friends on my bag, my caddie and my teacher, so that makes it very special,” Dougherty said. “He keeps me loose and he gave me a lot of good reads and helped me to hit shots where I wanted. I hit a lot of putts on line, and some of them fell in, so I feel very fortunate.”
Sorenson also had only one bogey in the first two rounds.
“It was a good day, but it’s tough keeping up with him,” said Sorenson, looking at Dougherty. “The courses are in fantastic shape and the greens are just perfect and rolling awesome. They’re pretty soft because they got some rain, so if you hit a good, quality shot, you’re going to be able to get it close to the pin on most of them.”
Erdmann birdied three of the final five holes in his bogey-free round.
“This is all so new,” Erdmann said. “I have friends calling and rooting for me and telling me they’re watching. But to tell you the truth, I have never felt so comfortable with my game. My putter has been fantastic and my whole game is clicking.”
Defending champion Mike Small, the head coach at the University of Illinois, had a 71 on the East Course to fall seven strokes behind Dougherty. He’s seeking an unprecedented fourth national title.