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Loar grabs lead in Panama

Edward Loar fired a two-under 68 on Friday to climb into the lead after two rounds of the Panama Claro Championship.

Loar, who had never before held the lead after a round on the Nationwide Tour, sits at six-under-par 134 and holds a one-stroke advantage over Brian Smock and Justin Bolli.

"It's always nice because it means you're playing well," Loar said of being in first place. "There is still a lot of golf left on a very challenging golf course."

Bolli carded an even-par 70, while Smock made the most significant move up the leaderboard Friday with a six-under 64 at Panama Golf Club. They share second at five-under 135.

While Smock moved up, first-round leader Justin Hicks dropped into a tie for 10th. He struggled to a five-over 75 and fell to one-under 139.

Tim Wilkinson (68) is in fourth at four-under 136, while Martin Piller (71) holds fifth at minus-three.

Loar goes into the weekend in first place despite a tumultuous second round. After stumbling to a bogey on his opening hole, Loar played exceptional golf for the rest of his front nine. Four birdies in the seven-hole span put him at seven-under around the turn.

However, Loar fell to another bogey at No. 10. He gained the shot back with a birdie at 13, but he followed with a double-bogey at 14. A birdie at the last closed Loar's round on a positive note, and was enough to give him the lead.

Bolli initially put some distance between himself and the rest of the field with a strong start to his round. He birdied the first, fourth and fifth to reach eight-under.

However, he followed that stretch with a bogey and double-bogey, giving the strokes right back. He entered the clubhouse with a 70 after carding a birdie and bogey during his back nine.

"The greens were getting really firm toward the end of the day," said Bolli. "I made some putts today, but I just didn't putt as good as I did yesterday. I made a couple mistakes tee-to-green that cost me."

Smock was one of the first players to tee off Friday, and quickly started to make up for his opening-round 71. He began at the 10th hole and ran off three consecutive birdies from the 11th. Smock sank another birdie try at 15, but a bogey at the 18th put him at two-under heading around the turn.

However, a bogey-free front nine helped Smock get into contention. He birdied three, four and seven, then parred his final two holes to settle at minus- five.

NOTES: The cut line fell at four-over 144, with 77 players moving on to the weekend. Among those to just make the cut was Skip Kendall (144), who won the Nationwide Tour's first event of the year in Colombia...Loar and Smock are chasing their first Nationwide victories, while Bolli is a three-time winner on tour.