MacKenzie records round to remember at Viking Classic
MADISON, Miss. -- Whoa, dude, Will MacKenzie had a killer round at the Viking Classic on Friday. Problem is he can't remember much of it.
A guy like MacKenzie -- a kayaker, heliboarder and surfer -- lives in the moment. And his 8-under 64 was so last hour when he met with reporters, even if it did boost him into a four-way tie at 10 under, a stroke behind leader Marc Turnesa.
"I'm trying to think," he said when asked about his birdies on Nos. 1 and 3. "Those were close."
Viking Classic Leaderboard
1. Turnesa (-11)
T-2. Pride (-10)
T-2. Stankowski (-10)
T-2. Gay (-10)
T-2. MacKenzie (-10)
6. Wittenberg (-9)
• Complete scores
How about the birdie on No. 5?
"I don't remember 5," he said. "I have to sit here and really think about it."
MacKenzie may have to take someone else's word for it, but the guy who used to sleep in his van for five years while pursuing the next big thrill has found a home on the PGA Tour. His dazed and confused moments off the course at the Annandale Golf Club on Friday belied a razor-sharp morning round on it. He made eight birdie putts after his opening-round 70 and hasn't had a bogey yet.
Chalk it up to his putting. He has made all 15 putts from within 10 feet in the first two rounds and is back to using the claw grip, for the most part.
"I won my only tournament with a claw, but I actually switched back for some reason," said MacKenzie, the 2006 Reno-Tahoe Open winner. "That's the way I am."
Most the leaders Friday -- Turnesa was a stroke ahead of MacKenzie, Paul Stankowski, Brian Gay and Dicky Pride -- used their putters to their advantage. Turnesa took the opening-round lead Thursday with 12 one-putts and 22 total. He shook off a slow start Friday with a 55-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 fourth and saved his lead with an 8-foot putt for par on his final hole that was no gimme.
The PGA Tour rookie has held the second-day lead once before, but fell out of contention at the St. Jude Championship this year with rounds of 70 and 77 to tie for 37th.
"Just the fact that I have been here before makes me a little more confident," Turnesa said after his second-round 68. "Hopefully I can finish off a little stronger than I did at St. Jude."
Stankowski also had a great day with his putter and is gaining confidence after holing a 31-footer on the par-4 ninth and eight other birdies for a 7-under 65. Feeling good about his putting is a new emotion.
"It's kind of been my weak link early throughout my career," he said. "I had a month off and finally got a putting lesson for the first time in my life and started working on my putting for the first time in my life, which is probably a good thing."
Stankowski is pain free for the first time in years. He's dealt with a litany of hand, wrist, shoulder and forearm injuries. Most recently a doctor taught him how to apply tape to his hand and the pain he experienced from cumulative injuries over the years disappeared.
"I'm baffled as to what the heck this tape job does, but ... I am pain free -- and I hope for a long time -- and I finally got my wish and it looks like I'm going to get to play at least one full year without any pain," Stankowski said. "It's been fun."
It would be a lot more fun for the 38-year-old Flower Mound, Texas, resident if he can win on the tour for the first time in more than 10 years after victories at the BellSouth Classic in 1996 and the Hawaiian Open in '97. He's pretty sure he'll have to stay focused on his putting to reach that goal.
"I've come to the conclusion that's the one aspect of my game I've never worked on and I am committing myself to it, and we'll see how it goes," he said.
About the only player who's not putting well and keeping pace is Pride, who shot a 67 for the second straight day. He stayed in contention by acing the par-3 second Friday, a day after knocking his tee shot within 6 inches.
"No. 2 and my 4-iron are getting along particularly well at the moment," Pride said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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