RUSSELL Knox catapulted himself into contention in the FedEx St Jude Classic by producing a flawless 64 in his second round in Memphis.
Six behind overnight leaders Brooks Koepka and Greg Owen after an opening 70, the Jacksonville-based Scot earned a share of the clubhouse lead following his six-birdie surge.
Knox, who is sitting 33rd in this season’s FedEx Cup, picked up shots at the first, eighth, tenth, 12th, 15th and 16th at TPC Southwind as he moved to six-under-par for the tournament.
His halfway total had been matched by American Chris Smith and Fabian Gomez from Argentina after they carded 67 and 68 respectively.
Koepka, winner of the Scottish Hydro Challenge in Aviemore almost exactly two years ago, and Englishman Owen were among the later starters on day two.
By the time he set out in his second round in the Constellation Players’ Championship at Belmont in Massachusetts, Colin Montgomerie had a mountain to climb. That followed his former Ryder Cup partner, Bernhard Langer, carding a second successive 65 to sit on 12-under-par – nine ahead of Montgomerie as the Scot resumed his bid to land back-to-back over-50s majors.
In another major, Catriona Matthew was seven shots off the pace at the start of her second round in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Westchester in New York.
Closer to home, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy believes a “special” opening nine holes laid the foundations for him to extend his lead after the second round of the Lyoness Open in Austria. Starting the day two ahead the 33-year-old took advantage of his early tee time to increase the pressure on his challengers.
Beginning at the tenth he carded five birdies to turn in 31 at the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, although his first bogey of the week at the first halted his momentum briefly before he picked up another stroke at the short sixth to finish with a 67 for a 12-under total.
He stretched his advantage to four as Chris Wood, his nearest challenger yesterday, could manage only a 69 while fellow Frenchman Gary Stal posted a 68 to move alongside the Bristol golfer on eight under.
“I started very strongly. It is good to play like this after a nice round yesterday,” said Bourdy. “After the front nine I had a chance to play better than yesterday but unfortunately had a bogey. The front nine today was special – five under was very good with some great shots and nice putts.”
Spaniard Carlos Pigem, who in matching Bourdy’s 65 on the opening day recorded the joint-lowest score of his European Tour career, moved to seven under – helped by holing his eight-iron approach to the 12th for eagle – along with compatriot Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who shot 69.
Home favourite Bernd Wiesberger needed to pick up five shots in his last four holes to make the cut, which fell at level par, and a birdie followed by an eagle at the 16th raised that unlikely prospect after Thursday’s 79 – but he came up two strokes short.
Russian Andrey Pavlov had a nightmare start to his second round when he carded a 17 at the par-5 first hole having found the water six times. The 28-year-old, who finished 26-over at this event 12 months ago and is playing his first European Tour event of the year on a tournament invitation, tied the joint second worst number of strokes on a single hole in European Tour history – joining Chris Gane, who made the same score at Gleneagles in 2003, with only Philippe Porquier’s 20 at the 1978 French Open worse.
He eventually signed for an 18-over 90, having carded a one-under 71 in his opening round, which had given him a chance of making his first-ever cut in 15 attempts on both the European and Challenge Tours.
Andrew McArthur (70) and David Drysdale (73) are the leading Scots in joint 22nd.