- Kevin Maguire, Golf
- 0 Shares
NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa. -- If Justin Leonard wants fans in the Philadelphia suburbs cheering him on over the weekend, he might want to keep his pro football allegiances to himself.
For now, the galleries have been enjoying his resurgence after the Texas native fired a second round 67 on Friday to get to 5 under par at the AT&T National, two shots off K.J. Choi's 36-hole lead.
Choi tied the course record Friday with a 64.
As for the 39-year-old Leonard, he did just about everything right on Friday by hitting nearly 86 percent of his fairways and 13 of 18 greens in regulation.
"I'm just glad I played a couple of rounds that I can build on," Leonard said. "It'll be nice teeing off late on a Saturday. It's been a while. So looking forward to seeing what I can do this weekend."
To say Leonard's golf game went south would be akin to likening John Daly's drives to moon shots. He hasn't recorded a top-10 since last August when he finished tied for third at the Wyndham Championship. That was Leonard's only top-10 all year.
His best showing in 2011 is a T-13 at the Bob Hope Classic back in January. It's been 80 tournaments since Leonard's last victory, at the 2008 Stanford St. Jude Classic. That win was his 12th career PGA Tour triumph with his most notable victory coming at the 1997 British Open at Royal Troon.
Add in that he's missed more cuts (nine) than he's made (eight) this season and it doesn't spell much success. That is, until his opening two rounds at Aronimink Golf Club.
Leonard attributes at least some of his turnaround to getting a little help on the green from putting teacher Marius Filmalter the week before Memorial in early June.
"My stroke had gotten a little loose," said Leonard, who tied for 60th last year in this event. "And kind of doing too much with the hands and arms and getting the stroke back in the shoulders. It feels really good."
As a result, Leonard had 28 putts in the second round.
A shot back is a four-pack of golfers that includes Charles Howell III, Bryce Molder, Jeff Overton and Kyle Stanley. A year ago, Overton was the only player to shoot all four rounds under par. He finished third, two shots behind eventual champion Justin Rose.
No matter what happens during the next 36 holes, Leonard is looking to the future after his strong start.
"I feel like I've got some good things going on, and I'm excited about the upcoming events," he said. "I'm off next week and I'm going to play four or five in a row, and I'm excited about that."
As for why Leonard should keep his NFL team colors hidden at least until Sunday night?
He's a Dallas Cowboys fan walking fairways lined by division rival Philadelphia Eagles faithful.
Kevin Maguire is the senior golf editor for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Kevin.Maguire@espn.com.
Can Justin Leonard resurrect his game this week at the AT&T National? After opening up 68-67, the former major champion stands poised for a rebound, ESPN.com's Kevin Maguire writes.