WASHINGTON: Andrew Loupe rolled in a six-foot birdie putt at his last hole to take a one-shot lead over Roberto Castro after two rounds of the Wells Fargo Championship on Friday (Saturday in Manila).
Loupe, who shared the overnight lead, had four birdies and three bogeys in his one-under 71 at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina.
His eight-under total of 136 put him one in front of fellow American Roberto Castro, who had seven birdies and an eagle at the tough 18th in his six-under 66 for 137.
Chesson Hadley (67) and Mark Hubbard (68) shared third on 138, while five-time major champion Phil Mickelson and former Wells Fargo winner Rickie Fowler were in a group of six players on 139.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland got off to a solid start with three birdies and an eagle on the front nine, but he closed with back-to-back bogeys in a three-under 69 that left him six adrift in a big group on 142.
Loupe is in unfamiliar territory atop the leaderboard, having never been in that position through 36 holes of a PGA Tour event.
In search of a first tour title, he missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open and Zurich Classic in his last two starts.
“I thought I played solid,” said Loupe, whose finishing birdie came after a three-putt bogey at the eighth.
“It was nice to bounce back after that mistake on eight. I shook it off, I was just proud of that.”
Mickelson bogeyed the ninth, his finishing hole, but he was delighted to pick up a shot at the difficult 18th among his three birdies in a two-under 70.
“I scrapped it around,” said Mickelson, who belted an approach from the rough to within 15 feet of the pin at 18, where he’s had his struggles in the past.
“That was a good one,” Mickelson said.
Fowler had five birdies and a bogey in his four-under 68. He and Mickelson were joined on 139 by Steve Wheatcroft, the overnight co-leader who ballooned to a 74, Brian Harman (70), Daniel Berger (71) and Scott Langley (69).
One day after Fowler and McIlroy had to dodge a ball thrown by a fan, another oddity occurred in the disqualification of Zac Blair for using a non-conforming club.
That club was his putter, which he bent when he hit himself in the head with it after missing a birdie attempt at the fifth hole.
“I’m going to learn from this mishap and move on,” Blair said, also posting on Twitter a video of Woody Austin smacking his own head with his putter back in 1997.