Rookie Mackenzie Hughes of Canada carded a 5-under-par 67 on the Plantation Course and took a two-stroke lead over Cheng Tsung Pan of Taiwan midway through the RSM Classic at Sea Island Resort in Sea Island, Ga.
Hughes, who will turn 26 next week, opened with a 9-under 61 on the Plantation Course and has a bogey-free 36-hole total of 14-under 128.
“It’s been a fun two days and I’m excited about the challenge of seeing how my game holds up to the challenge and the pressure of the weekend,” said Hughes, whose two pro victories came in the 2013 Cape Breton Celtic Classic on the PGA Tour Canada and the 2016 Price Cutter Charity Championship on the Web.com Tour.
“I have been hitting a lot of fairways and greens, and keeping the ball in front of me. If you hit the fairways here you have a lot of short irons to the greens and can be aggressive. I made some birdies early and just picked up steam.”
Pan, another rookie who won eight times in his college career at Washington, posted a bogey-free 6-under 64 on the Seaside Course, where he sank a 24-foot eagle putt on the 15th hole.
In 2015, Pan won The Players Cup and the Cape Breton Celtic Classic before qualifying for the PGA Tour by finishing 11th on the 2016 Web.com Tour money list.
“This is my fifth event on the PGA Tour and I didn’t play very well in the first four, but it’s great to be here,” said Pan, who represented Taiwan in the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and will play for his country again next week in the World Cup of Golf.
“It’s good to be back playing my game.”
Chad Campbell, who has won four times on the PGA Tour but not since the 2007 Viking Classic, shot 65 on the Seaside Course and was three shots back in a tie for third with Chesson Hadley, who had a 66, Hudson Swafford, who wound up at 67, and Blayne Barber, who totaled 68, all three on Plantation Course.
Billy Horschel, the 2014 FedExCup champion, finished at 66 on the Plantation Course and was four strokes behind in a tie for seventh with Jason Kokrak (65, Seaside Course), Seung-Yul Noh (66, Seaside Course) of South Korea, Russell Henley (65, Seaside Course), Kyle Stanley (67, Seaside Course), Charles Howell III (65, Seaside Course), Bryce Molder (65, Seaside Course), Josh Teater (66, Seaside Course), Hiroshi Iwata (67, Seaside Course) of Japan and Jonathan Byrd (70, Plantation Course).
The last two rounds will be played only on the Seaside Course.