Greg Norman stayed focused. Fuzzy Zoeller was on fire. Both moved up the leader board in the Greater Hartford Open on Friday.
Norman shot a 6-under-par 64 in the second round to move into a tie with Pullman’s Kirk Triplett, who had shared the first-round lead with Bob Estes after shooting 64.
Norman and Triplett finished at 9-under-par 131, two strokes ahead of a group of eight golfers that included Zoeller, whose 63 set a course record and put him at 133 after 36 holes.
“I focus in on one shot, on one particular shot. I’m pretty good at it,” Norman said. “I’d love to be in that zone all the time. I’ve worked hard on getting mentally prepared.”
Norman, who said he pulls his mantra for success from the self-help book, “Zen And The Martial Arts,” had eight birdies and two bogeys.
Zoeller, who started at even par, was joined at 133 by Grante Waite, Dave Stockton Jr., Lee Rinker, Michael Bradley, Brian Henninger, Ronnie Black and Jerry Haas.
Zoeller, whose only other 7-under round in 11 tournaments this year was in the Byron Nelson Classic in mid-May, said his 29 on the par-35 back nine was probably one of the best performances of his career.
“That’s a lot of good golf,” said the 43-year-old Zoeller, who hasn’t won a title since 1986 and whose best finish this year was a tie for 12th at Greensboro, N.C., in April. “I don’t think I’ve ever done better than that.”
Vijay Singh shot 66 and was alone at 134, a stroke ahead of Chip Beck and Andrew Magee. Estes shot a 72 and was among a group at 136.
It was warm and sunny nearly all day, and there was little wind, providing ideal conditions on the 6,820-yard course at the Tournament Players Club at River Highlands.
Norman, runner-up in last week’s U.S. Open and second in last year’s Hartford, started strongly by making four straight birdies on Nos. 11-14. But he faltered a bit before making the turn.
Norman missed a chance to eagle No. 15 when he three-putted after driving the 296-yard hole. He missed a putt on the next hole for bogey, then missed a short birdie putt at No. 17.
Norman made up two strokes on the front nine by making birdie at No. 1, then following his bogey at No. 4 with birdies at Nos. 6 and 7.
“My iron play was the right distance today. I was hitting them more flag high,” Norman said, adding that he never uses the flag as the target but tends to pick out branches, trees and an occasional hat from the gallery.
Zoeller, who teed off in the morning at even-par in a group with U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin, remained even at No. 8 after a bogey at No. 4 and birdie at No. 6.
But Zoeller then got on a roll, making birdies on seven of his last 10 holes to post the lowest score since the course was renovated in 1991.
Zoeller and Pavin were both at 5-under after No. 16, but went in opposite directions at the next hole. Their approach shots at No. 17 landed close, and Zoeller sank a birdie putt after watching the line on Pavin’s miss.
On No. 18, Zoeller hit a 6-iron approach to about 4 feet and made the birdie putt, while Pavin got his second straight bogey after lipping the cup on a 5-foot putt. Pavin, who started at 70, finished 36 holes in a group at 137 that included Paul Azinger.
“I made the putts I had to make. I knew I was shooting well,” Zoeller said. “I just got on a roll.”
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