RENO – The last time Nick Watney led or shared a 36-hole lead was at The Barclays in 2012.
That was the fifth time in his career he’d been in that situation, and he went on to win his fifth tournament title. It was the first time he’d won an event after leading at the halfway mark.
Watney, who followed up an 18-point day on Thursday with eight on Friday, hopes he can repeat that accomplishment when the third round of the Barracuda Championship gets under way at 7:30 a.m. today at Montreux Golf & Country Club.
Watney leads Geoff Ogilvy (23) by three points, while Wes Roach is third with 22. Tommy Gainey and Tim Wilkinson are tied for fourth at 21. Jeff Overton, Bryce Molder and Brendan Steele are in a three-way tie for sixth with 20 points. John Huh and Woody Austin are tied for ninth with 19, while Johnson Wagner, Hudson Swafford and Jason Allred are tied for 11th at 18.
Watney, who impressed many with his play in the first round, carded five birdies and two bogeys, both on par-3s, on his way to an 8-point day.
The former Fresno State star three-putted No. 11, but got two points back with a 5-foot birdie putt on 12. After three straight pars, he three-putted from 25 feet to drop to 18. A two-putt birdie from 18 feet on the par-5 18th got him to 20 points.
On his back side, he drained a 9-footer for birdie on the par-5 2nd, holed out a 5-footer at No. 3 and then dropped in a 5-footer on the par-5 8th to get to 26.
“I played pretty well,” Watney said. I would have liked to have made a few more putts, but overall, you know if you would have told me 26 points after two days I would take it every time. So, I’m looking forward to the weekend.
“I gotta keep going. Who knows what the guys are going to do this afternoon. So whether I’m leading or behind, doesn’t really matter. We’ve got a long way to go, and just try to keep my head down and stay focused on where I’m at.”
Watney’s lead didn’t look real safe as Wilkinson birdied three of his first six holes to reach 23 points. Nine holes later, Wilkinson was still stuck at 23. A bogey at the par-3 7th and the par-4 9th dropped him to 21.
Ogilvy garnered just one point on the front nine after a birdie on No. 3 and a bogey at No. 7.
After five straight pars, Ogilvy knocked a 6-iron from 203 yards to 10 feet and dropped in the eagle putt, giving him 22 points. He bogeyed No. 14 to drop to 21, but got two points back when he dropped in an 18-footer for birdie on the par-3 16th.
Roach had four birdies, an eagle on the par-5 13th and three bogeys. His 204-yard approach shot on 13 ended up 2-feet from the cup. He hit a 17-footer on No. 2, two-putted from 72 feet at the par-5 8th and tapped in a 3-footer at No. 9. He drained a 5-footer on No. 18.
Overton made a big move with a 13-point day, which included an eagle at the par-5 18th. It was a great way to end a 5-under-par round.
“I’ve hit it really well the last couple of days,” Overton said. “It’s just a matter of getting the putts to drop. I’ve been driving it well, and this is kind of one of those courses if you can drive it well and chip and putt it good, you’re going to have some good chances with four par 5s, three of the four which are reachable.
“And you get two par 4s that you can just about drive. I was able to take advantage of the par 4s but did horrible yesterday on the par 5s but we got them a little bit today.”
Overton played the par-5s in 3-under-par thanks to the eagle and six points at No. 18. On 18, Overton uncorked a 314-yard drive, then drilled a 302-yard second shot to 9 feet and made the ensuing putt.
“I hit a great 3-wood into there,” Overton said. “So crazy because it was like 307 to the hole. But you’re downhill 20 yards and the ball goes so far here, the 3-wood landed on the front edge and rolled out to be a perfect shot.”
Roach and Molder each had 10-point days. Both have enjoyed double-digit scoring days the first two rounds of the event.
Molder had five birdies and no bogeys en route to his second 10-point day.
“I hit a lot of fairways, quite a few greens,” Molder said. “The few times I missed I made par. Really, if you keep the ball in front of you out here, you can get a lot of looks.”
Steele, who had nine points on Thursday, jumped into contention with an 11-point Friday. Nearly half of those points came when he holed out a 45-footer from the fringe for eagle on the par-5 18th.
Rod Pampling, who had 11 points on Thursday, made some early noise by registering three birdies on his first six holes of the day to get to 17. However, a bogey at No. 18, and bogeys at Nos. 3, 5, 6 and 9 dropped him back in the pack at 16 points.