Knox’s surge nets share of lead in Shriners Open

For the better part of two days, Russell Knox had been lurking near the top of the leaderboard at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Late Friday afternoon, the 29-year-old from Scotland made his move, carding two birdies on his final four holes for a 4-under-par 67 to join PGA Tour rookie Andrew Putnam atop the leaderboard at 10-under 132 after the second round of the $6.2 million event at TPC Summerlin. Putnam shot 6-under 65 after opening with a 67.

“I’ve been in this position before on the course the last couple of years,” Knox said. “I’ve played nicely but just haven’t played well for four days. But I’m off to a good start and hopefully two more good ones to go.”

Knox and Putnam have a one-shot lead over Andrew Svoboda and Tony Finau.

Knox’s second round began poorly. He bogeyed two of his first three holes, and it wasn’t until just before he made the turn that he overcame the early miscues. He eventually made the turn at 1 under and played a mistake-free back nine that included three birdies.

“I got a bit worried because I was all over the map,” Knox said. “I didn’t feel real good with my swing, and I knew if I could just make some pars, eventually something would click. I made some putts, which really settled me down.”

First-round co-leader Martin Laird briefly joined Knox and Putnam at the top of the leaderboard. But he lasted just one hole among the leaders, after a double-bogey 6 at the par-4 No. 7.

Laird finished with a 70 and is tied for fifth at 134 with defending champion Webb Simpson and six others, including Las Vegas’ Scott Piercy, who carded his second straight 67.

But as much as Laird’s stumble hurt, it didn’t come close to matching what first-round co-leader Stewart Cink went through. Cink found himself in big trouble early, as he struggled out of the bunker at the par-4 11th, his second hole, and took a quadruple-bogey 8. He bogeyed the next hole and was quickly 5 over for his round.

He recovered to make birdie on two of the final three holes on his front nine, then added a birdie after making the turn to reduce the deficit to 2 over for the round and 5 under overall.

Cink encountered more difficulty down the stretch with a bogey at the par-4 sixth and a double-bogey at the par-4 No. 7. He finished with a 75, and his 3-under 139 was one stroke above the cut line.

“The first shot out of the bunker was really difficult,” said Cink, replaying the nightmare at 11. “I caught it thin, and it flew over. The next two bunker shots, there was no sand to speak of, so you’re not sure what to do.

“I wound up playing a little ping-pong out there. It just wasn’t a very good day.”

There were no such issues for Putnam. He navigated his way around TPC Summerlin with only one hiccup — a bogey at the par-4 No. 3. He made the turn at 2 under, quickly moved to 3 under with a birdie at the par-4 10th and added three more birdies, including one at 18.

“I played the par-5s well,” said Putnam, who birdied all three par-5s. “I was able to take advantage of those.”

Putnam’s older brother Michael, a regular on the PGA Tour, didn’t fare as well. He shot 143 and missed the cut.

But Andrew Putnam has a chance to uphold the family name this weekend.

“There’s going to be a lot of emotions,” he said. “I’m going to try to go out there and have fun.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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