Johnson joined first-round leader Nicholas Thompson at 4-under-par 138 after two rounds. Thompson sputtered to a 3-over 74 as players continued to struggle with strong wind and high, thick rough.
'That was hard work,' said Johnson, whose round included an eagle, three birdies and three bogeys -- all on the front nine. 'It was just brutal out there.'
Jason Dufner managed an even-par 71 in his second round and stands alone in third place at 2-under-par 140.
Johnson began his round with an eagle at the par-5 first, then collected three consecutive birdies from the third to get to minus-7. But his good run was derailed by three straight bogeys to close out the front nine.
It was a tough run for Johnson, who went on to par his final nine holes. But at least he's in place to make a weekend run at the Nationwide Tour's most lucrative tournament at $750,000.
'This is a great tournament,' Johnson said. 'They pour so much into this that it is just fantastic. It is a blast up here.'
As odd as Johnson's scorecard was on the front nine, Thompson would be envious of it. He carded three birdies in his round, but was set back by no less than six bogeys -- including three in a row from the third hole after he opened with a birdie at No. 1.
'It was a long day at the workplace,' said Thompson. 'I didn't have my best stuff but I'm still playing good. A 74 isn't terrible today, but it is about as high as I could have shot.'
Doug LaBelle II (75), Roland Thatcher (71), Steve LeBrun (71), Cameron Beckman (72) and Michael Long (73) are tied for fourth place at 1-under-par 141.
The scoring average -- which was a lofty 72.712 on Thursday -- ballooned to 76.566 on Friday. Only Johnson, Jeff Burns (70) and Matt Hendrix (70) broke par, and the cut line fell at plus-6.