Hnatiuk Maintains FedEx Lead

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Glen Hnatiuk carded his second consecutive round of 6-under 65 Friday to take the lead midway through the St. Jude Classic. He finished with a two-day total of 12-under-par 130 for a one-shot lead over Pat Bates, Jay Haas and Notah Begay III.
 
Matt Kuchar and Justin Leonard each posted rounds of 5-under 66 Friday to share fifth place at 10-under par. Tim Petrovic, tied for the lead with Hnatiuk after the first round, was alone in sixth at minus 9.
 
John Riegger (68), Robert Gamez (64), Jason Hill (66) and Doug Barron (67) were in eighth place at 8-under-par.
 
Joel Edwards set the nine-hole record for this tournament with a 28 on the front side at the TPC at Southwind. He shot a 63 to be part of a group at 6-under-par with Tom Byrum, who also fired a 63, and John Daly (70).
 
Hnatiuk only tallied two birdies on the front side, a pair of 10-footers at two and six. He made his ascent up the leaderboard on the back nine and then pulled away from the crowd near the top.
 
At the 10th, Hnatiuk landed an 8-iron four feet from the hole to set up a birdie. Three holes later he ran home a 15-footer for birdie to reach 10-under par. The Canadian two-putted from 25 feet on the par-5 16th to join the group at 11-under but he saved his best for the last hole.
 
Hnatiuk played a 9-iron to the safe part of the green but drained a 30-foot putt to grab the 36-hole lead for the first time in his PGA Tour career.
 
'I just kind of hung it out to the right. I didn't want to get too greedy with that shot,' said Hnatiuk, referring to his approach at 18. 'I wasn't real happy with the shot but I was happy with the result.'
 
Hnatiuk, whose best finish this season was a tie for eighth at Harbour Town, understood the magnitude of his position but wants it to be business as usual when he hits the first tee Saturday afternoon.
 
'It was Friday; it was the second round. That's it,' said Hnatiuk. 'I'm going to try and approach Saturday and Sunday the same way. I've had troubles in the past where I kind of get in my own way and I get way ahead of myself thinking of consequences and what might happen. So Saturday is going to be just Saturday.'
 
Bates, who played on the Buy.Com Tour last season, was three-under when he reached the par-4 12th on Friday. After a big drive left him with only 100 yards to the flag, he hit a wedge approach that found its way into the hole for an eagle-2.
 
'I hit a little three-quarter pitching wedge right behind the hole and it sunk in the hole,' said Bates, whose father-in-law, Doug Tewell, is competing in the U.S. Senior Open this week. 'I made eagle there and that kind of got me going.'
 
Bates added three birdies the rest of the way to polish off an 8-under 63.
 
Haas, winless since the 1993 Texas Open, was flawless Friday with seven birdies and no bogeys for a 64.
 
Begay's story is perhaps the most interesting of the leaders as he struggles to return to the form that netted him the St. Jude and Greater Hartford Open titles in back-to-back weeks in 2000.
 
Begay severely injured his back during offseason conditioning prior to the 2001 campaign and was able to play in only 12 events that year. He missed the first 11 cuts this season before tying for 33rd in Hartford last week.
 
'I never stopped treating myself like a champion. Now I'm playing like one, so I guess that's a good thing,' said Begay, who shot a second-round 65.
 
Bob Estes, the 2001 champion, shot his second 69 in as many days and finished tied for 41st at minus 4.
 
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-under-par 140. Among the notable players whofa Curtis Strange, and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
 
Full-field scores from the FedEx St. Jude Classic