(Reuters) - Kelly Kraft shot a career-best 63 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead into the weekend at The Greenbrier as the 29-year-old American moved into position to claim a maiden PGA Tour title.
Kraft followed up his opening 64 with eight birdies at the par-70 Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs for a 13-under par 127 total after 36 holes.
India’s Anirban Lahiri, meanwhile, signed for a career-best 61 and overnight leader Webb Simpson a 67 to share second place, one stroke off the pace on a warm day in West Virginia that made for excellent scoring conditions.
Jason Kokrak is a further shot adrift in fourth place after shooting 64, while Korea’s Whee Kim and Harold Varner III were tied for fifth on 10-under par.
Kraft has been on the tour for three years and has never led a tournament after 36 holes, but credited his improved play to an attitude adjustment he made after failing to make the cut at the Quicken Loans National last week.
“I’ve changed my attitude a little bit starting with last week,” he told the Golf Channel.
“I felt like I played good last week but a couple of breaks here and there and you miss the cut. It’s easy to do,” he said.
“But I’ve changed a couple things about my attitude and I’m ready to keep playing good. I’m just looking for two more low ones and a bunch of scoring opportunities.”
Kraft’s only blemish was a bogey on the par-five 12th, the same hole where Simpson suffered a double-bogey earlier in the day, but he rebounded with birdies on 13, 14 and 16 to take the outright lead.
Bubba Watson, who at number 12 is the highest-ranked player in the field, followed his disappointing opening round 68 with a second round 66 on Friday to sit tied for 24th with eight other players on six-under par.
Watson, who 11 days ago collected a PGA Tour-leading third win of the season, said he was not content to rest on his laurels.
“That’s in the past,” he said when asked about his recent success.
“I couldn’t care less what happened earlier in the year. We’re trying to win a trophy this week and whoever gets a trophy this week is trying to get a trophy next week.
“You’re always looking forward.”
Watson, who was visibly frustrated on Thursday, said he adopted a better attitude on Friday thanks to a pep talk.
“My wife had a talking to me last night and said my attitude was terrible so I had to change it,” the 39-year-old said.
“The last two holes I got frustrated just because I thought I hit some good putts and didn’t make anything. All in all, it’s a good two days and I still have a chance to fight and compete and try to win.”
Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by John O'Brien