(Reuters) - While Chinese prodigy Guan Tianlang looked near certain to make a second consecutive cut on the PGA Tour, American Lucas Glover surged into an early one-shot lead in Friday’s second round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Former U.S. Open champion Glover maintained red-hot form with his putter at the rain-softened TPC Louisiana, firing a five-under-par 67 on a relatively calm morning in Avondale, Louisiana.
Seeking his first PGA Tour victory in nearly two years, the 33-year-old rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on his final hole, the par-five 18th, to post a 12-under total of 132.
Fellow American Boo Weekley was alone in second after carding a 68 with PGA Tour rookie Morgan Hoffmann a further two strokes back at nine under, after a 69.
Four-times major winner Ernie Els was four shots off the early pace after shooting a 69 while China’s 14-year-old Guan once again stunned the golfing world as he ended the round at three-under 141, inside the projected two-under cutline.
“I think I played a very good round today,” eighth-grader Guan, who became the youngest player to make the cut in a major championship at the Masters two week ago, told Golf Channel after mixing five birdies with two bogeys on the way to a 69.
“I made a lot of birdies and got a couple of good up-and-downs, so it was still a pretty good round. I think I made the cut.”
Asked what his goals were for the weekend, Guan replied: “Play my best golf to go further.”
Guan’s remarkably poised display in front of large galleries at the TPC Louisiana took some of the limelight away from Glover who was delighted to be in contention for his first PGA Tour title since the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship.
“I am excited,” Glover told Golf Channel after taking early control in the second round with eight birdies and three bogeys.
“I haven’t been here in a while. I haven’t been in this position in a long time so it will be nice to get some rest this afternoon and just keep doing what I am doing.”
Glover, who clinched his only major title at the 2009 U.S. Open, made a fast start with five birdies in his first seven holes, building on the welcome confidence he had gained with his putter in the opening round.
”It was good,“ the three-times PGA Tour champion said. ”It just kind of piled on from yesterday. I made some (putts) early and got the confidence up.
“I had some hiccups but nothing too bad. It’s not easy out there now, it’s a little breezy, but it was there for the taking this morning.”
Asked how it felt after posting back-to-back low rounds at the TPC Louisiana, Glover replied: ”It’s just steps. Yesterday was a good step, today was a good step.
”You just keep piling on confidence, trying to do the right things, take advantage when you get a good number and be aggressive when you choose to be.
“So I am just trying to build my confidence right now and make as many birdies as I can when I am able.”
British world number four Justin Rose, the highest-ranked player in the field, was five strokes off the early lead at seven under after shooting a 69.
The cut was projected to fall at two-under 142 with former major winners Keegan Bradley, Lee Janzen and Justin Leonard among those in danger of missing out.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue