Before he started his round Friday, Michael Putnam could be found on the putting green at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, trying to figure out how to improve at the Hotel Fitness Championship.
His brother and caddy, Joel, suggested taking strokes toward a smaller-than-regulation cup.
If you can make it in a small hole, Joel said, you can probably make it in a bigger one.
After draining an 8-footer, Michael said jokingly: Oh, Im going to make everything today.
He almost did, sinking a flurry of long-range putts en route to a 9-under 63, which bested by one stroke the course record that was fired by Scott McCarron in the first round.
Putnam, Patrick Cantlay and Trevor Immelman, who won the Masters in 2008, are tied for the lead at 11 under.
Robert Streb was standing right next to us on the putting green, Putnam said of his playing partner. After the second long one went in on (my second hole), the 11th hole, he said, You know, I think after this round, Im going to be practicing on that small hole.
It was kind of funny. They might have to cut a few extra ones out there (on the putting green).
After a first-round 70, Putnam had only 26 putts. He shot a 7-under 29 on his starting nine, including an eagle on the par-5 12th.
Arron Oberholser, Scott Harrington and Bud Cauley are one stroke back of the leaders.
The Hotel Fitness Championship is the first of four legs in the Web.com Tours new Finals. The winner here will get $180,000 of the $1 million purse. There are also 25 PGA Tour cards for next season up for grabs throughout the Finals, which mostly feature players ranked 126 to 200 in the FedExCup standings and the top 75 from the Web.com Tour.
The top two players on the Web.com Tour this year have been Putnam, who won twice and pocketed $450,184 before this week, and Ben Martin, who had two wins and $399,769 in winnings.
They played together in the first two rounds; Martin shot back-to-back 69s and is 6 under.
Were good friends. We see each other every Tuesday night at something called Tour Life, Putnam said, referencing a function for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Its fun to play with him because hes such an even-keel guy and a good player. And he had a great year. Our whole group was playing well. We all made the cut comfortably.
Of the 129 players, 71 made the cut by shooting better than 2 under. Those missing included Ryo Ishikawa (2 under), Chris DiMarco (2 under) and Heath Slocum (even).
It played tough out there. It was windy, and the greens were starting to get crusty, said Putnam, who made a curving 14-foot putt on his last hole, the par-4 9th, to beat the record set by McCarron and Robby Shelton, whose 64 came at the Junior PGA Championship in 2012.
McCarron was 1 under through the first six holes Friday. But he bogeyed the par-3 7th and double-bogeyed the par-4 8th before finishing with a 75 that put him in a tie for 34th place at 5 under.
Immelmans 66 included a 4-under 32 on the back nine, where he started.
So how does a player who has a green jacket feel about having to prove his mettle against a field filled with Web.com Tour players?
Over the last few years, golfers have gotten so good, no matter what tour you play, Immelman said. Gone are the days when shooting even (par) on the last day wins a tournament. That doesnt even happen in majors anymore. Guys are not scared to go low and shoot low numbers and you have to try to create that mindset.