June 7 (Reuters) - Ten months after shooting 59, Brandt Snedeker almost matched the feat when he carded a 10-under-par 60 to grab the clubhouse lead in the second round at the Canadian Open in Ontario on Friday.
Snedeker drove the ball with laser-like accuracy and wielded a hot putter on a morning when everything clicked for the American at Hamilton Golf & Country Club.
“My putting, when I get hot the hole (looks like) a beach ball to me. Today I felt like that,” he said after posting an 11-under 129 halfway total, which earned him a three-shot cushion over his nearest rivals among the morning wave.
World number one Brooks Koepka was seven shots back after a 66.
Overnight leader Keegan Bradley had a late tee time, as did Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.
Snedeker shot his 59 at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro last August and on Friday came within a whisker of becoming the second man to twice break 60 on the PGA Tour.
Jim Furyk is the only one to accomplish the feat, managing a 58, an all-time record, as well as a 59.
Snedeker, a nine-times PGA Tour winner, was at home on Friday on a course that demands precision more than power, notching eight birdies and an eagle.
“I drove the ball fantastic, missed two fairways, and do that around here and you set yourself up for success,” he said.
“I made a couple of putts early to get the momentum going and just gave myself a lot of opportunities, did a good job of staying patient, putting the ball in play, played to my strengths.
“When you make a lot of putts and get hot like this it’s a lot of fun.”
Snedeker got a little lucky at his final hole, the par-four ninth, where his approach shot narrowly avoided a greenside bunker, his ball taking a fortuitous kick down to within five feet of the cup.
He had no trouble converting the putt with his unmistakeable pop putting stroke in which he accelerates the putter-head through the ball, reminiscent of Tom Watson and Arnold Palmer in their prime.
Snedeker has also registered three scores of 61 during his career, and has a theory of why he has gone so low, so often.
“I’m not scared about going low. I realise these days don’t happen too often. More often than not you’re getting beat up so when they happen you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
His performance certainly impressed playing companion Justin Thomas, whose 65 took him to five-under-par. “Man, that guy can putt,” he said.
While Snedeker opened a handy lead on the field, there was plenty for the large Canadian gallery to cheer early on as Ben Silverman (61) and Mackenzie Hughes (66) vaulted to eight-under 132.
They were joined there by Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell (67) and Swede Henrik Stenson (66).
McDowell’s performance augurs well for next week’s U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, where he won the major championship nine years ago. (Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Ken Ferris)