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."
Wasn't the birdie putt on No. 3 from 28 feet?
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.
WIE BREEZES THROUGH FINAL QUALIFYING ROUND: At Rancho Mirage, Calif., Michelle Wie breezed through the final round of an LPGA Tour sectional qualifying tournament on a scorching Friday in the desert, shooting a steady 1-under 71 to tie for fourth.
Completing the first step toward earning her tour card, she was 8 under after 72 holes. The 18-year-old Stanford student needed only to finish in the top 30 to advance to final qualifying tournament in Florida in December.
The scene at Mission Hills Country Club was far different than in the past for Wie, who became a golf celebrity at 13 when she played in the final group in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
This time around, she was just grinding it out along with 163 others hoping to pass the first test toward earning a tour card.
The qualifying tournament was not open to the public, and for the final round, there were no huge galleries, no grandstands, no food booths; just a golf course.
At the turn, there were some 30 people trailing along with her. As the temperature on the desert course reached 102 degrees, the group thinned down to 12 or so, including Wie's mother and father.
"When I came the first time (this week), I didn't know where anything was because I was so used to everything being here by the grandstands," she said. "Sometimes you play in big crowd and sometimes you don't. The game's the same, the goal's still the same, the opportunity still's the same. I just try to play my game."
Her game was most uneventful over the last 18 holes. She was 4 under for the day through 12, but bogeyed the next two. She then bogeyed the par-3 17th when she hit into the left bunker, hit out to 10 feet of the cup, but couldn't get her putt to drop.
"I felt like I played pretty solidly," she said. "Had a couple mistakes here and there, but I did what I had to do."
He forehead was still glistening with sweat.
"It was really hot. That's all I remember," she said. "Even in the shade, it's hot. I'm just waiting to get in the shower. I feel disgusting."
Stacy Lewis, who tied for third at the U.S. Women's Open this summer, shot a closing 69 in the qualifying tournament to tie Wie and Japan's Shiho Oyama (70) at 280, eight shots behind first-place finisher Sun-Ju Ahn of South Korea (68).
Anna Nordqvist of Sweden shot a 70 to wind up second at 274, and Miki Saiki of Japan had a 69 to finish third at 276.