Central Oklahoma junior-to-be Blake Murray fired a 6-under 66 in the second round of the Railer, Kansas Stroke Play Championship on Saturday to take a 1-stroke lead over the field in the open division.
After two rounds, Murray is 8-under and leads Alex Moorman, a former University of Kansas golfer, by 1 stroke heading into the final round at Sand Creek Station in Newton on Sunday.
With only 11 golfers under par after two rounds, Murray and Moorman have gained some separation from the pack. Conrad Roberts, another former Jayhawk, Heights' graduate Luke Gannon, and Hutchinson's Douglas Rios-Ceballos are all tied for third at 4-under, while Nicklaus Mason, Goddard's Elliot Soyez, and Andrew Beckler are all at 3-under.
But the story on Saturday was Murray and his tournament-low round of 66. After two rounds, Murray leads the field with 12 birdies — two more than Moorman and Spencer Christian.
The birdie barrage on Saturday for Murray, who began his round on the back nine, started after a bogey on No. 14 to fall to 1-under for the tournament.
What happened next would put Murray in the tournament lead, as the Mooreland, Okla. native and three-time Oklahoma high school state champion birdied 8 of his next 11 holes, including five straight holes at one point.
It was a spectacular stretch that has yet to be matched in the tournament, as Murray rallied for back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 to gain momentum, then delivered another one at the turn on No. 18.
But Murray found his groove starting with the par-3 No. 3, which is playing as the course's easiest hole this weekend. He made easy work of the 153-yard hole, sinking a birdie putt that would begin a string of five straight birdies on his back nine.
Murray (8-under), Moorman (7-under), and Roberts (4-under) will play in the final group on Sunday and tee off at 1:10 p.m.
In the senior division, Kansas City's Don Kuehn distanced himself from the field on Saturday with a 3-under 69. After two rounds, Kuehn (9-under) is the only golfer under par and has a 9-stroke lead heading into the final round.
The Railer, Kansas Stroke Play Championship
Day 2 at Sand Creek Station (Par 72)
Leaders: 1. Blake Murray, Mooreland, Okla., 70-66—136; 2. Alex Moorman, Centerville, Iowa, 69-68—137; t-3. Luke Gannon, Bel Aire, 70-70—140; Douglas Rios-Ceballos, Hutchinson, 71-69—140; Conrad Roberts, Lawrence, 68-72—140; t-6. Elliot Soyez, Goddard, 71-70—141; Andrew Beckler, Topeka, 71-70—141; Nicklaus Mason, Shawnee, 70-71—141; t-9. Lane Wallace, Yukon, Okla., 71-71—142; Blake Allen, Lenexa, 70-72—142; 11. Peyton Austin, Derby, 74-69—143; t-12. Grayson Wallace, Guymon, Okla., 72-72—144; Taylor Larsen, Garden City, 74-70—144; Ian Trebilcock, Wichita, 70-74—144; T.J. Vilkanskas, Manhattan, 72-72—144; t-16. Nick Kagy, Overland Park, 71-74—145; Alex Rickard, Newton, 75-70—145; Matt Percy, Ottawa, 74-71—145; Palmer Hayes, Fayetteville, Ark., 76-69—145; Tate Herrenbruck, Salina, 75-70—145; Craig Howell, Bel Aire, 71-74—145; Rhett Bechtel, Edmond, Okla., 70-75—145; Joe Bultman, Shawnee, 71-74—145; Spencer Christian, Wichita, 69-76—145.
Leaders: 1. Don Kuehn, Kansas City, 66-69—135; 2. John Bailey, Nashville, 73-71—144; T-3. Steve Newman, Wichita, 73-72—145; Bob Hartmann, Andover, 68-77—145; 5. Gregory Goode, Salina, 75-71—146; 6. Robert Bezek, Ottawa, 75-72—147; 7. Tracy Chamberlin, Wichita, 74-74—148; t-8. Randy Vautravers, Andover, 79-70—149; Tom Nielsen, Edmond, Okla., 76-73—149; Steve Randall, Lawrence, 73-76—149.