The British Open, to be played July 19-22 at Carnoustie, held 36-hole qualifiers in the United States and Europe as it moved closer to establishing the 156-man field.
Putnam had rounds of 69-67 to finish at 4-under 136, two shots better than Ryan Moore and John Senden. Bob Hope Classic winner Charley Hoffman was among those another shot back.
The biggest rallies belonged to former U.S. Amateur champion Matt Kuchar and Brian Davis of England. Kuchar opened with a 75 and was in the middle of the pack until a 64 in the afternoon to make it by two shots. Davis went 74-65.
Jerry Kelly made par on the final four holes of the South course at Oakland Hills -- the course Ben Hogan once called 'that Monster' when he won the U.S. Open in 1951 -- to shoot 68 and barely get in. Also qualifying were Sean O'Hair and Anders Hultman. Duffy Waldorf, Mark Hensby and Spencer Levin survived a six-man playoff to qualify.
Kevin Streelman, Robert Oppenheim and Steve Allan were eliminated in the playoff for the 12th spot.
At the International qualifier in England, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland shot 67-64 through heavy showers to lead 16 qualifiers at Sunningdale. Two shots behind was a group that included Ryder Cup player Miguel Angel Jimenez and Nick Dougherty, who led after the first round of the U.S. Open last month at Oakmont before he tied for seventh.
McDowell now has qualified for the U.S. Open and British Open each of the last two years.
'I think I have the right mind-set for them,' he said. 'I play very conservatively and try to take my birdie chances when I get them.'
The first round was delayed in the morning when officials realized a hole location on the slope of the short fourth hole was too severe. Ricardo Gonzales five-putted from 40 feet, while Edoardo Molinari four-putted from 12 feet.
After the round, players were told to replay the hole.
Martin Kippax, chairman of the British Open championship committee, said the hole location was on a slope because of fears that rain would leave it in a puddle.
'I admit it was a mistake and the responsibility lies on me and me only,' Kippax said.
Among those who failed to qualify was former Masters champion Ian Woosnam, who is recovering from post-viral fatigue syndrome.
Unlike two years ago in the United States, when some 50 players didn't show up at Congressional, 78 players completed their rounds at Oakland Hills.
Tom Pernice Jr., who lost a 54-hole lead at the Buick Open on Sunday, didn't fare much better. He opened with a 76 on the tough South course and couldn't make up enough ground in the afternoon. Also failing to qualify were former PGA champion Steve Elkington, Pablo Martin, Brad Faxon and Camilo Villegas.
Not many felt worse than free spirit Will MacKenzie, who was at 1 under with two holes to play and easily inside the number to qualify for his first major. But he finished double bogey-double bogey to miss the playoff by two shots.
Four spots at Carnoustie remain available for PGA TOUR players over the next two weeks -- the top two not already eligible who finish in a special money list that ends at the AT&T National this week, and the leading player not already exempt who finishes in the top 10 at the AT&T National and the John Deere Classic.