La Quinta, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Kuchar fired a second-round, 8- under 64 to take a 1-shot lead, while Ryan Palmer flirted with a 59 and ended with an 11-under 61 at the Humana Challenge on Friday.
Kuchar, who finished 36 holes at 15-under-par 129, is a seven-time winner on the PGA Tour and he is coming off a tie for third at the Sony Open in Hawaii last week. Palmer is tied for seventh with three others at 12-under 132 after his record-tying 61 on the Jack Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West.
Over the first three rounds, players will alternate between playing the Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus Private Courses at PGA West along with La Quinta Country Club. Sunday's final round will be contested on the Palmer Course.
First-round leader Michael Putnam carded a 5-under 67 and he is tied for second with 2010 champion Bill Haas (63) at 14-under 130. Putnam played the Palmer Course, while Haas was at La Quinta.
Justin Thomas (63), Nick Watney (64) and Scott Pinckney (67), all of whom played the Nicklaus Course Friday, are tied for fourth at 13-under 131.
Defending champion Patrick Reed finished his second round tied for 22nd at 9- under 135 after shooting a 2-under 70.
Kuchar, who began the day two shots behind the leader Putnam, started on the back nine at the Nicklaus Course and he came out playing well from the start. Kuchar poured in five birdies over his first seven holes, with the pars coming on 11 and 14.
After making the turn with a pair of pars on 17 and 18, Kuchar kept going strong with a gain on No. 1. Following two more pars, Kuchar drained an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole, putting him at minus-8 for the day.
Kuchar played his final five holes at even par, making his first and only bogey on No. 6 to go along with another birdie on No. 8.
"Today was better even than yesterday," Kuchar said. "I had a nice round over at La Quinta and that may be the toughest of the three courses just how tight and narrow it is. (Nicklaus Course) you have a little more space and reachable par-5s."
Palmer started the day at 1-under and eight shots back, but he quickly shot up the leaderboard with one of the hottest starts ever on the PGA Tour.
It appeared as if it would be a relatively routine day for Palmer when he began with two pars on 10 and 11, but his approach on the par-4 12th found the bottom of the cup for eagle, which got Palmer going in a big way.
"I holed out from 97 yards on 12, which is nice," said Palmer. "Then I kept hitting it close, then I hit it close again, then I hit it close again and just you know made a few putts."
After the eagle on 12, Palmer rattled off three straight birdies from 13 and followed those up with another eagle on the par-5 16th. Palmer kept rolling with another trio of birdies on 17, 18 and one. Just like that, he was 10- under through 10 holes.
"Next thing I knew I was on (No. 1) green, I just tapped in from two feet and I thought 'Oh my God I just went an eight-hole stretch and was 10-under,'" said Palmer. "It's one of those moments or stretches you get in you almost don't realize it's happening, you're just kind of just going with it."
Needing to play his final eight holes at just 3-under in order to shoot the seventh 59 in PGA Tour history, Palmer tripped a bit with back-to-back bogeys on two and three, dropping him back to minus-8 for the day.
Palmer's quest for a 59 still was not done, however, as he drained birdies on four and six. Heading to the par-5 eighth, Palmer needed to finish eagle- birdie to shoot sub-60. Despite knocking his second shot on eight to within 15 feet, Palmer missed his eagle effort and settled for birdie.
His approach shot on No. 9 came up about five feet short of the hole, giving Palmer a great look for birdie and a new course record, but his putt just slid by. Palmer made par to tie the course record with a 61.
Putnam had another solid day with five birdies and no bogeys, while Haas made all nine of his gains in a 10-hole stretch from No. 17, putting his name right near the top of the leaderboard.
NOTES: Kuchar's last win came at the RBC Heritage last season ... Palmer's 9- under on the back nine, his front, ties a PGA record and he is only the second player to do it while making two pars ... Palmer tied the course record set by both Charlie Wi (2009) and Ryan Moore (2012). Neither player went on to win that year ... David Duval carded a 59 on the Palmer Course in 1999 ... Scott McCarron made a hole-in-one on the 178-yard, par-3 17th hole on the Nicklaus Course Friday.