DULUTH - Without the rain, Jonathan Byrd returned serve to Kenny Perry with an afternoon charge that not only caught the early leader, but bested him by three strokes.
Byrd, who posted an early
6 under on Thursday, watched from his hotel as Perry fought through Day 1's elements for a 66, 6-under of his own.
On Friday, Perry did the watching; Byrd, the scoring.
The South Carolina native started hot with birdies on his first two holes, No. 10 and 11, and his score dropped to as low as 13 under on his back nine. But a bogey on No. 4 dropped Byrd back to 12 under and a three-stroke lead. He pared is final four holes, missing a two-foot birdie putt on the par 5 6th.
"It frustrated me, I can say that," Byrd said.
The bogey and missed putt were outliers to a round of great shots and par saves. Through the first two round Byrd played only two holes above par. He has 15 birdies.
"I played pretty sharp today," Byrd said. "When I did hit a poor shot or got myself in a precarious position, I tended to save par. I made a good par save, which is kind of fun, and I made a lot of putts that kept my round going."
But since Byrd started playing at the TPC at Sugarloaf, he has done well. In his four starts he missed the cut once and he has finished in the top 10 the last two years.
"I've always liked this golf course," he said. "I remember telling my wife the first year I played here, we were driving out after the tournament was over, and I told her, 'I'm going to win this tournament just because I like it so much.'
"That doesn't mean I am going to win this week."
With back-to-back 66s, Byrd is off to a good start.
But like Perry a day earlier, Byrd had his own weather battles, fighting against gusty winds, but he stayed aggressive and went after pins and tried to make birdies.
"I think a good number was still out there," Byrd said of the conditions.
But nothing like the rain of the first round, something the 25-year PGA veteran had never seen.
"I've never played 18 holes when it rained on me from the first shot to the last shot," Perry said Friday of his first round. "It never stopped."
The weather treated Perry better Friday, but the wear of the first day's time schedule took a toll. Perry had less than 12 hours off from the end of his first round to the start of his second.
"The first six holes (Friday) I was dragging," he said. "I made a beautiful putt on the 6th hole. When that went in it kind of woke me up a little bit, and I played really nicely from then on. I am very happy with the round. Very happy with the position I am in."
But Perry said that before Byrd teed off, when he sat atop the leaderboard.
Sitting with Perry at 9 under is Day 1 co-leader Ryan Palmer and behind him are Charles Howell III, David Toms and Parker McLachlin at 8 under.
But they are all chasing Byrd, who hopes to stay aggressive despite his lead. He says he learned from watching Phil Mickelson win by 13 strokes in 2005. Byrd played with Mickelson and Johnson in Sunday's final group.
"There is not much slowing down going from here on in," Byrd said. "I feel like I've got to keep playing just as good to stay out in front of the guys that are behind me.
"This is the kind of golf course that if you get, you know, careful you can make some mistakes. I kept telling myself today, I've got to stay aggressive."