PGA Tour

Howell stretches lead at RSM Classic

 Charles Howell III (Getty)
Charles Howell III (Getty)

Washington - Charles Howell fired six birdies in a six-under par 64 on Friday to stretch his lead to three strokes in the PGA Tour RSM Classic in Sea Island, Georgia.

Howell, a two-time PGA Tour winner but chasing his first title in more than a decade, kept the accelerator down on the par-70 Seaside course, a day after nabbing eight birdies on the par-72 Plantation course.

He goes into the weekend 14-under on 128, three shots ahead of rising star Cameron Champ, 23, who won his first title at the Sanderson Farms Championship last month, and Jason Gore.

Both signed for 63s on the Seaside course to share second on 131.

Howell said another wind-whipped day felt "a little bit like survival" but that he benefitted from the focus the conditions required.

"It sort of forces you to play so much in the present," he said.

"It's kind of hard to get too far ahead of yourself because you know there's plenty of hard ones coming up."

Howell, whose most recent title was at Riviera in 2007, knows there is plenty of work left to do.

Since then he has notched 53 top-10 finishes and six second-place finishes, but he hasn't returned to the winner's circle.

"My tendency is when I get up near there (the lead) is to sort of try hard a little bit, try to force things," he said.

"It also makes me have a lot of respect for guys that have found out ways to win a bunch.

"Winning out here is just not easy, and I haven't quite found the right recipe for that."

Champ, hoping to become one of those guys, put himself in position to strike with a seven-under round that featured eight birdies - including four straight to end his round.

Gore also closed with four birdies in a row, rolling in a 27-footer at 17 before capping his round with an eight-foot birdie at 18.

Playing on a sponsor's invitation, the 44-year-old Gore posted his lowest round on tour since his career-low 62 in the third round of the 2015 Wyndham Championship.

Leading second-round scores on Friday in the PGA Tour's RSM Classic at Sea Island, Georgia (USA unless noted, a-denotes amateur. Par-72 Plantation and par-70 Seaside courses):

128 - Charles Howell 64-64

131 - Jason Gore 68-63, Cameron Champ 68-63

133 - Nick Watney 69-64

134 - Ryan Blaum 69-65, David Hearn (CAN) 68-66, Brian Harman 66-68

135 - Graeme McDowell (NIR) 67-68, Brice Garnett 70-65

136 - Lucas Glover 69-67, Brian Gay 69-67, Webb Simpson 68-68, Zach Johnson 70-66, Chase Wright 67-69, Derek Fathauer 68-68, Ernie Els (RSA) 70-66, Sean O'Hair 71-65, Corey Conners (CAN) 69-67, Anders Albertson 70-66, a-Garrett Barber 71-65

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