(Reuters) - American Robert Garrigus hit one of the best shots of his life on the way to a three-shot lead after the second round of the $5.7 million Tampa Bay Championship on Friday.
Garrigus moved closer to his second PGA Tour victory with a near-flawless five-under-par 66, the best score of the day on the demanding Copperhead course at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor.
“I had some great up and downs, made a lot of good putts and you have to do that on a course like this, as difficult as it is,” he said after posting a seven-under 135 halfway total.
Fellow American Kevin Na (68) is alone in second place on four-under.
Garrigus birdied all four of par-fives but it was a recovery shot at the par-four 16th hole that will be remembered longest when he had to thread his second shot from a bare lie through a small gap in the trees after pulling his drive into trouble.
With a pond on the other side of the fairway waiting to gobble up an unlucky ricochet, Garrigus, the son of Olympic shooting silver medalist Thomas, made the extremely risky shot look easy, punching a “low cut” five-iron from 209 yards to within 15 feet of the hole.
Though he missed the birdie putt, the tap-in par preserved his lead.
“I probably hit one of the top-five shots of my life there,” said Garrigus, 36, who lost a playoff in this tournament two years ago, one of his six runner-up finishes on tour.
”It rose up over the pine tree and cut 40 yards. It was a lot of fun to try it and to pull it off was even better.
“I spent half my life in the trees ... so I knew exactly what I had to do and I hit the exact shot that I needed to. That was pretty special.”
Eighty-four players made the cut, which fell at three-over 145.
Joint first round leader Danny Lee was among those to miss it. He birdied the first hole but it was downhill from there as he stumbled to a 79, which was 11 strokes better than John Daly, whose 90 was his worst score ever on tour.
Reporting By Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford