A large group of golfers, however, are sitting on his heels, just two off Elders 12-under par pace. Brad Faxon, Deane Pappas, Luke Donald, Cameron Beckman and Jonathan Byrd each closed out Friday at 10-under par.
Elders round was filled with ups and downs, much like his short PGA Tour career, as his bid to remain on tour for the 2003 season rests with no less than him posting a victory here at the Annandale Golf Club.
He started in good fashion with birdies on his two first holes as he played the back nine first. He added another at both the 15th and 18th to make the turn at 4-under, and thats where the ride really began.
He bogeyed the second to drop to 10-under but then responded with a fantastic three-hole stretch, going birdie-birdie-eagle to get to 14-under. After a par at the sixth, he stumbled in with a pair of bogeys on two of his last three holes.
'The gap is getting smaller between the best and the players in the top 125,' said the Elder, who is currently ranked 173rd on the money list. 'I think I have enough game to go out and win. It's a matter of staying patient and staying positive. You have 36 holes left, there's a lot that can happen.'
His scorecard showed him having eight pars, six birdies, three bogeys and an eagle, and, most importantly, the lead.
'I love playing here,' said Elder. 'I think it's a great golf course. You have to drive the ball well, you have to hit good iron shots, not to mention putting. It's a combination of everything. I'm hitting it well and swinging better at it.'
Faxon carded his second straight 67, this time going bogey-free, to jump into a tie for second.
Beckman, the defending champion, followed up Thursdays 66 with a 4-under 68. Pappas, Donald and Byrd likewise posted rounds of 66-68.
'I'm trying to be positive, to think about the shots I hit last year,' said Beckman. 'I'm playing a little different this year, but I love this golf course.'
Kirk Triplett and Chad Campbell are together in a tie for seventh, only three back of Elder. Campbell enjoyed one of the days best rounds, carding a 6-under 66 to move up from 25th.
Jeff Maggert is one of five players in a group that are within four shots the lead at 8-under.
Full-field scoring from the Southern Farm Bureau Classic