Hjertstedt, Scott Gump, and 35-year-old rookie Daisuke Maruyama of Japan each shot a second consecutive 5-under 67 on Friday to tie for the second-round lead at 134. Murayama, the only player in the wind-swept afternoon grouping to make a run at the top, completed his round with a birdie at 18.
One shot back of the trio was David Branshaw (64) of nearby Oswego, N.Y. Trailing by another stroke at 136 were Esteban Toledo (67), Mathias Gronberg (68), Cameron Beckman (66), Michael Bradley (68), and Frank Lickliter II (67).
First-round leader Mark Brooks, who began the day at 7 under, couldn't find his putting touch and finished at even par. He was tied with Harrison Frazar (71) and six others at 137. Defending champion Jason Bohn, who began the day tied with Frazar one shot off the lead, also shot 72 and was at 138.
Hjertstedt certainly hasn't given an indication a breakthrough was near. He missed his last three cuts and his best showing so far this year was a tie for ninth at Tucson, only his second top 10 in the past six years, much of which has been spent on the Nationwide Tour.
'I've been getting it together the last three weeks, but I haven't had any results,' said Hjertstedt, who also won the 1999 Tucson Open. 'Last week, I was playing great and missed the cut by one. You get punched up so many times, finally you say, 'That's enough.' I think that's what's happened this week.'
Or maybe it's just the B.C. Open, and the fact that this is the last. It's being dropped from the PGA Tour after this year.
'You look at the trophy and you want another one,' Hjertstedt said. 'It was just a breakthrough for me. The last few years haven't been the easiest. I'm trying to find my game again.'
The morning didn't start as something special. With a low-hanging mist and heavy air, remnants of overnight thunderstorms that dropped a half inch of rain and softened Turning Stone Resort's Atunyote Golf Club course, the course was playing much longer.
Hjertstedt opened with six straight pars, then sank a 45-foot birdie putt at No. 16, and things quickly changed.
'That was a bit of a bonus,' he said. 'I wasn't playing great, just steady. All of a sudden, I started making a few birdies.'
Hjertstedt made four more birdies on the front side before bogeying his final hole, the par-4 ninth.
The softer conditions allowed players to become aggressive with their approach shots, and it didn't take Branshaw long to realize the birdies were there for the taking.
Starting on the back nine, he hit a pitching wedge inside a foot at No. 10 and made eagle at the par-5 12th hole after hitting 5-wood from 230 yards to 12 feet of the pin.
'I knew from the very first hole you could be aggressive with the iron shots,' said Branshaw, who was forced to withdraw from the Colonial in May because of an injury to his left wrist that still hasn't completely healed. 'That helps you play a little more solid instead of being a little tentative, which I am. My first little chip wedge checked up within 5 feet. Yesterday, that shot would have released 30 feet.'
Gump could have become a victim of the changing conditions. His distance off the tee dropped from 313 yards to 252, but his iron play more than made up for it. He hit 10 fairways and made 14 greens in regulation.
'I felt like I was Hercules out there yesterday and today I was back to Minnie Mouse,' said Gump, who has three seconds in 308 events since joining the tour in 1991.
Michael Allen, who also has never won on tour, provided the most dramatic example of the improved scoring conditions as he recovered from an opening 76. A day after carding 38 on the front nine, he made six birdies en route to a 30 and finished with a course-record 9-under 63.