A steady rain Friday in Bluffton did little to affect Hunter Stewart's feel on the greens.
And unlike the previous day, there was no stopping. Stewart, the 20-year-old Vanderbilt golfer, poured in a 30-foot birdie putt to start his day at the Players Amateur and dropped several clutch par putts to keep his momentum on the way to a 4-under-par 68 on Berkeley Hall Club's South Course.
Stewart is 12 under and leads the tournament by two shots over Cal's Michael Weaver. South Florida's Chase Koepka is five shots behind after a second-round 70.
"The greens were a lot firmer than I expected originally," Stewart said. "They maintained their speed."
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After lightning suspended a planned marathon session Thursday, play flowed smoothly after Friday's restart. A steady rain fell for several holes but never threatened to wash out play and didn't affect Stewart's putter.
With his dad, Jon, on the bag, Stewart made the long, downhill birdie try on No. 3 and added six more. His 132 total supports those who said scores would be lower. In Year 2 of Berkeley Hall hosting the event, the club scaled back the rough.
But Koepka said there is still enough bite for him to be within striking distance five shots away.
"The rough is really penalizing," Koepka said. "The way these pins are, if you are off by just a little bit, you can get yourself into some trouble out here."
Each of the three contenders after 36 holes can trace the source of their momentum.
Stewart won his first individual event this spring, earning medalist honors at the Samford Intercollegiate. Weaver, after bolting to a runner-up finish at the 2012 U.S. Amateur, followed with a solid college season for the Bears and has played the year's first two PGA Tour majors, including a made cut at last month's U.S. Open at Merion.
Koepka plays well when he is in the Hilton Head Island area. He is the most recent Junior Heritage champion, having won the 2012 event at Harbour Town Golf Links. And he finished fourth at the Wexford Plantation Intercollegiate in February.
Weaver's run began with improved putting. He used the hot putter to apply pressure in match play and earned a Masters invite with the second-place finish at the U.S. Amateur. Before that, he said, the Players Am was his only decent result of last summer.
"My putter got hot at the right time," he said.
Stewart began playing golf at age 10 in his native Lexington, Ky., using the ample practice facilities at Champions Trace, a private Arthur Hills layout. From Wildcat country, he wanted a similar environment. And the combination of academics and golf at Vanderbilt, within a few hours drive, were a draw.
"He just wanted to stay in the SEC and kind of wanted to move away from home, but not that far," Jon Stewart said. "It's a great town. They've got a great program and a great facility. It was an easy choice."
After a start-and-stop day Thursday, Stewart and some of his Vandy teammates unwound by fishing at a nearby dock and taking in a movie.
The restart was delayed more than an hour Friday morning while tournament officials waited out a possible storm cell, but play flowed smoothly after that. Stewart said he dealt with rain from hole No. 10, where he made bogey, until the 14th green. He birdied two of his final three to help maintain the lead.
The Players Amateur
Friday, at Berkeley Hall Club, South Course, Bluffton, S.C.; Par 72
Hunter Stewart 64-68-132
Michael Weaver 67-67-134
Chase Koepka 67-70-137
Sean Dale 69-69-138
James Gibellini 72-67-139
Benjamin Taylor 69-70-139
Oliver Goss 72-68-140
Bobby Wyatt 69-71-140
Matthew NeSmith 69-72-141
Zack Jaworski 72-69-141
Tom Lovelady 73-68-141
Nicholas Reach 73-69-142
Brady Watt 70-72-142
Nathan Holman 75-67-142
Oliver Schniederjans 76-66-142
Tyler Dunlap 71-71-142
Gavin Hall 74-68-142
Ryan McCormick 72-70-142
Keith Mitchell 74-68-142
Ben Dietrich 72-71-143
Ricardo Celia 69-74-143
Geoff Drakeford 70-73-143
Zachary Olsen 72-71-143
Davin White 73-70-143
Cody Proveaux 69-75-144
Curtis Thompson 71-73-144
Kevin Marsh 73-71-144
Julian Suri 70-74-144
Nick Sherwood 72-73-145
Jordan Zunic 74-71-145
Brett Drewitt 74-71-145
Aaron Wilkin 73-72-145
Ji Soo Park 72-74-146
Richy Werenski 72-74-146
Grayson Murray 75-71-146
Richard Lamb 71-75-146
Stephen Powers 72-74-146
Todd White 69-77-146
Anders Albertson 74-72-146
Viraat Badhwar 73-73-146
Lucas Herbert 67-79-146
Lee McCoy 72-75-147
Anthony Paolucci 72-75-147
Sean Bosdosh 75-72-147
Michael Muehr 75-72-147
Tae Koh 74-73-147
Ben Reeves 74-73-147
Scott Wolfes 71-77-148
AJ Crouch 74-74-148
Andrew Yun 79-69-148
Austin Langdale 77-71-148
Michael Hines 72-77-149
John Voetsch 73-77-150
Matt Hansen 73-77-150
Evan Beck 76-74-150
Callan O'Reilly 78-72-150
Maclain Huge 75-75-150
Jake Mondy 78-72-150
Woody Woodward 74-77-151
Compton Pikari 72-79-151
Sam An 76-75-151
Billy Kennerly 77-74-151
Andy Zhang 77-75-152
Ben Fogler 75-77-152
Carson Jacobs 74-78-152
Stephen Behr, Jr. 76-76-152
Zander Lombard 76-76-152
Thomas Bradshaw 77-76-153
Dykes Harbin 77-77-154
Alan Barnhardt 73-81-154
Nick Gilliam 78-77-155
Michael Balzer 73-82-155
Will Voetsch 82-75-157
Jordan Janico 84-73-157
Travis Cashion 74-85-159
Zachary Herr 81-81-162
Nick Tremps 86-79-165
Mickey Werenski 79-86-165
Tucker Wadkins 81-88-169
Third-round tee times
7 a.m.: Mickey Werenski, Tucker Wadkins
7:10 a.m.: Zachary Herr, Nick Tremps
7:20 a.m.: Will Voetsch, Jordan Janico, Travis Cashion
7:30 a.m.: Alan Barnhardt, Nick Gilliam, Michael Balzer
7:40 a.m.: Zander Lombard, Thomas Bradshaw, Dykes Harbin
7:50 a.m.: Ben Fogler, Carson Jacobs, Stephen Behr Jr.
8 a.m.: Sam An, Billy Kennerly, Andy Zhang
8:10 a.m.: Jake Mondy, Woody Woodward, Compton Pikari
8:20 a.m.: Evan Beck, Callan O'Reilly, Maclain Huge
8:30 a.m.: Michael Hines, John Voetsch, Matt Hansen
8:40 a.m.: AJ Crouch, Andrew Yun, Austin Langdale
8:50 a.m.: Tae Koh, Ben Reeves, Scott Wolfes
9 a.m.: Anthony Paolucci, Sean Bosdosh, Michael Muehr
9:10 a.m.: Viraat Badhwar, Lucas Herbert, Lee McCoy
9:20 a.m.: Stephen Powers, Todd White, Anders Albertson
9:30 a.m.: Richy Werenski, Grayson Murray, Richard Lamb
9:40 a.m.: Brett Drewitt, Aaron Wilkin, Ji Soo Park
9:50 a.m.: Julian Suri, Nick Sherwood, Jordan Zunic
10 a.m.: Cody Proveaux, Curtis Thompson, Kevin Marsh
10:10 a.m.: Geoff Drakeford, Zachary Olsen, Davin White
10:20 a.m.: Keith Mitchell, Ben Dietrich, Ricardo Celia
10:30 a.m.: Tyler Dunlap, Gavin Hall, Ryan McCormick
10:40 a.m.: Brady Watt, Nathan Holman, Oliver Schniederjans
10:50 a.m.: Zack Jaworski, Tom Lovelady, Nicholas Reach
11 a.m.: Oliver Goss, Bobby Wyatt, Matthew NeSmith
11:10 a.m.: Sean Dale, James Gibellini, Benjamin Taylor
11:20 a.m.: Hunter Stewart, Michael Weaver, Chase Koepka