Matt Kuchar takes the lead with a 64

Matt Kuchar takes the lead with a 64
Matt Kuchar watches a chip shot during the second round of the Humana Challenge golf tournament in La Quinta, Calif. Kuchar shot an eight-under-par 64 to take a one-shot lead at 15-under. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

Veteran Matt Kuchar jumped to the top of the leaderboard Friday after the second round of the Humana Challenge in the desert.

Kuchar's eight-under-par 64 at the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West gave him a 15-under total of 129 and a one-shot lead over first-round leader Michael Putnam. Putnam slipped just a bit with a 67 to go with his opening 63.


This was Kuchar's 330th start on the PGA Tour. He has won seven times, including the 2012 Players Championship.

He not only played well, but he knew the reality of two days ahead on the courses of the Humana, which yield some of the lowest scores on the tour.

"Game feels solid," he said. "I feel like I know where it is going, like I'm hitting it in the center of the club. I'm really pleased."

He is also really realistic.

"Nobody wins on Thursday, Friday or Saturday," he said.

Kuchar has the lead, but some of his thunder was stolen by Ryan Palmer, Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson.

Palmer became the 10th player in PGA history to shoot 27 on nine holes — Corey Pavin shot a 26 in the 2006 U.S. Bank Open in Milwaukee — and he actually missed a six-foot putt on his last hole to settle for an 11-under 61. That was the best round of the day and put him at 12 under for the tournament.

Asked if he could describe what it was like to have a run of consecutive holes in which he went eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie, birdie, Palmer said, quite appropriately, "I can't."

After that thrilling run, Palmer bogeyed the next two holes on the Nicklaus Course.

Haas, who won here in 2010 and is best known for the saving shot he made out of a lake to help him win the 2011 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup — as well as the $11.4 million that came with it — shot nine under at La Quinta and shared second with Putnam.

In one stretch, Haas birdied nine out of 10 holes.

Mickelson was doing little at two under until he came to the fifth hole of his back nine. Then he birdied five holes in a row to close with a 66 and get himself somewhat back in the title run.

Defending champion Patrick Reed, trying to become only the second repeat winner in this event after Johnny Miller in 1975-76, slipped to a 70 and is six shots back.

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