(Reuters) - Brandt Snedeker maintained the turnaround in form he produced at Kapalua last week and delivered a short game master class to move a stroke clear in the second round of the Sony Open in Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday.
Long regarded as one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, Snedeker holed out from 15 feet on his first hole, chipped in from 35 feet on his 12th, and then drained a 20-footer at the next on the way to a five-under-par 65 at Waialae Country Club.
The 35-year-old American, who had been in a five-way tie for the lead overnight, took advantage of relatively benign conditions as he piled up five birdies in a bogey-free round for a 12-under total of 128.
Kevin Kisner was alone at 11-under after carding a 66.
Reigning British Open champion Zach Johnson was a stroke further back, also after a 66, along with former world number one Luke Donald (65), Zac Blair (65) and Chez Reavie (63).
Snedeker, in pursuit of his eighth victory on the PGA Tour, was delighted to be at the top of the leaderboard after tying for third at last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions following missed cuts in his two previous starts.
“This is why we spend so much time away from our families as well as so much time on the golf course, to be in contention and have a chance to win at the weekend,” Snedeker told Golf Channel.
Having ballooned to an aggregate 19 over par in his last six rounds of 2015, Snedeker has covered his first six this year in a staggering 33-under after hard work with swing coach Butch Harmon in Las Vegas.
“Now I feel more comfortable with how I’m supposed to swing,” said Snedeker. “Hopefully I can keep building on it.”
Reigning champion Jimmy Walker, bidding for an unprecedented third victory in a row at Waialae, was a distant nine shots off the pace after carding a 68.
Former world number one and 2005 champion Vijay Singh, among the five players tied for the lead overnight, was a late starter on Friday and fell four behind Snedeker after a one-under 69.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine/Peter Rutherford