The 1999 McDonalds Order of Merit champion carded an 8-under-par 64 and sits at 13-under through two days, one shot in front of Canadian Tour rookie Dave Christensen (Otsego, MN). Michael Kirk (South Africa) is four shots back, while Roger Tambellini (Templeton, Calif.) is five off the pace. Craig Matthew of Ile Bizard, QC is tied for fourth with three others at 7-under.
The mercury climbed into the high 30s C for the ninth consecutive day in Montreal Friday, and the humidity factor pushed it well into the 40s. A swirling breeze made conditions at least bearable, but also played havoc with routine shots on the 7079-yard, par-72 Les Quatre Domaines #2 course.
For the second time in as many days, the 32-year-old Duke mastered the back nine for a 6-under 30 despite the gusting wind.
It seemed just like (Thursday), with a similar wind, and it almost felt like I was playing the exact same round, said Duke, a two-event Tour winner two years ago. I am a low-ball hitter, so the wind didnt affect me as much as it would some of the other guys.
While the wind didnt hinder his performance, Duke conceded the humidity left its mark on the field over the first two days of play, even following heavy rain Thursday night.
On Thursday, I got tired just after making the turn. The wind I can live with, but that humidity made it so tough. The rain cooled things off a bit, but it was still hot out there.
As one of the long-ball hitters on the Canadian Tour, Duke added the Les Quatre Domaines layout may be suited for his game, although the key will be to stay on the fairway.
Sure, it helps to hit it long, but you have to stay straight, he said. With five par-5s out there, a lot of these guys are going to score. Im just going to keep going about my business-some days you have it, some days you dont. Hopefully, I can keep this up on the weekend.
Christensen, 24, who had three second-place finishes in four starts earlier this year as the Canadian Tour kicked off its season in Myrtle Beach, S.C., fired his second straight 66 to get within striking distance of Duke. Still, he is not thinking too far ahead when asked if the time has come to shake the bridemaids tag.
As much as I want to finally win, it is so nice to be close, he said. I learned a lot from those finishes in Myrtle Beach. But its fun to be right in the hunt as opposed just making the cut.
Seventy players shot even par or better to survive the cut and will compete for the $32,000 top prize on the weekend.
Full-field scores from the TELUS Open