Scott Sterling in Knoxville
Sonny Skinner, Patrick Sheehan and Curt Byrum shared second place at 7-under par. Stan Utley, D.J. Brigman, Todd Barranger and Hunter Haas were tied for fifth at minus 6.
Sterling started on the back nine at Fox Den Country Club and quickly made his move up the leaderboard. He drained a 10-foot birdie at the par-5 10th before cashing in on an 18-foot birdie putt at the par-3 13th.
Sterling took advantage of the other par-3 on the back side at Fox Den, roping a 4-iron to four feet to set up birdie at the 212-yard 16th. He made it back-to-back birdies by rolling in a five-footer at 17 to make the turn at 4-under 32.
He made only one birdie on the front side, a 35-footer at the par-5 fifth, but it was enough for the 36-hole lead.
'I had a couple of good saves and some stressful pars out there today,' said Sterling, who needed only 24 putts on Friday. 'There are a lot of birdies out here. The greens are soft and rolling good and that leads to good scores.'
Skinner mixed six birdies with three bogeys for his round of 3-under 69. With his opening-round 68, Skinner posted two consecutive rounds in the 60s for the first time since shooting 67-69 on the weekend at the 2001 Utah Classic.
Sheehan flew out of the gate with five birdies on his front nine but cooled off on the back with a 1-over 37. He shot a second-round 68 and will play in the second-to-last group Saturday with Byrum.
Byrum is playing in his fourth tournament of the season as he has spent much of his time as an analyst for The Golf Channel. He drained a 30-foot eagle putt at 10 but bogeyed his next hole and finished with a 2-under 70.
The 36-hole cut fell at 2-under-par 142 and 62 players qualified for the weekend.
Full-field scores from the Knoxville Open
Kisner doubles 18, defends not laying up
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – It was only fitting that Jean Van de Velde was there working as an on-course reporter on Friday as Kevin Kisner struggled his way up Carnoustie’s 18th fairway.
Rolling along with a two-stroke lead, Kisner’s 8-iron approach shot from an awkward lie in the rough from 160 yards squirted right and bounced into Barry Burn, the winding creek where Van de Velde’s title chances at the 1999 Open Championship began to erode.
Unlike Van de Velde, who made a triple bogey-7 and lost The Open in a playoff, Kisner’s double bogey only cost him the solo lead and he still has 36 holes to make his closing miscue a distant memory. That’s probably why the 34-year-old seemed at ease with his plight.
“It just came out like a high flop shot to the right. It was weird. I don't know if it caught something or what happened,” said Kisner, who was tied with Zach Johnson and Zander Lombard at 6 under par. “You never know out of that grass. It was in a different grass than usual. It was wet, green grass instead of the brown grass. So I hadn't really played from that too much.”
Like most in this week’s field Kisner also understands that rounds on what is widely considered the most difficult major championship venue can quickly unravel even with the most innocent of mistakes.
“To play 35 holes without a double I thought was pretty good,” he said. “I've kept the ball in play, done everything I wanted to do all the way up into that hole. Just one of those things that came out completely different than we expected. I'll live with that more than chipping out and laying up from 20 feet.”
Wind, not rain more a weekend factor at Open
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – After a half-day of rain in Round 2 of the 147th Open Championship, the weekend offers a much drier forecast.
Saturday at Carnoustie is projected to be mostly cloudy with a high of 62 degrees and only a 20 percent chance of rain.
Sunday calls for much warmer conditions, with temperatures rising upwards of 73 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.
Wind might be the only element the players have to factor in over the final 36 holes. While the winds will be relatively calm on Saturday, expected around 10-15 mph, they could increase to 25 mph in the final round.
Van Rooyen holes putt after ball-marker ruling
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Erik van Rooyen was surveying his 10-footer for par, trying to get a feel for the putt, when his putter slipped out of his hand and dropped onto his ball marker.
The question, then, was whether that accident caused his coin to move.
The rules official looked at various camera angles but none showed definitively whether his coin moved. The ruling was made to continue from where his coin was now positioned, with no penalty.
This was part of the recent rules changes, ensuring there is no penalty if the ball or ball maker is accidently moved by the player. The little-used rule drew attention in 2010, when Ian Poulter accidentally dropped his ball on his marker in Dubai and wound up losing more than $400,000 in bonus and prize money.
After the delay to sort out his ruling Friday, van Rooyen steadied himself and made the putt for par, capping a day in which he shot even-par 71 and kept himself in the mix at The Open. He was at 4-under 138, just two shots off the clubhouse lead.
“I wanted to get going and get this 10-footer to save par, but I think having maybe just a couple minutes to calm me down, and then I actually got a different read when I sat down and looked at it again,” he said. “Good putt. Happy to finish that way.”
Lyle birdies last hole in likely his final Open start
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – If this was Sandy Lyle’s final Open appearance, he went out in style.
Playing on the final year of his automatic age exemption, the 60-year-old Scot buried a 30-foot birdie on the last hole. He missed the cut after shooting 9-over 151 over two rounds.
“I was very light-footed,” he said. “I was on cloud nine walking down the 18th. To make birdie was extra special.”
Lyle, who also won the 1988 Masters, has missed the cut in his last eight majors, dating to 2014. He hasn’t been competitive in The Open since 1998, when he tied for 19th.
To continue playing in The Open, Lyle needed to finish in the top 10 here at Carnoustie. He’d earn a future exemption by winning the Senior British Open.
“More punishment,” he said.