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Tim Clark, Troy Merritt tied for Sony Open early second round lead

Tim Clark, Troy Merritt tied for Sony Open early second round lead

A stance adjustment paid off for Tim Clark as the South African moved into a share of the clubhouse lead with American Troy Merritt during the second round at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Friday.

Clark compiled six birdies for a five-under-par 65 in ideal morning conditions at Waialae Country Club, while Merritt had six birdies in a flawless 64.

They were at 10-under 130, one stroke ahead of Russell Knox (65) of Scotland with half the field still on the course, including first round pacesetters Paul Casey and Webb Simpson.

“I’m standing a little bit taller so I’m getting a bit more width with my swing and everything seems to be coming off the middle of the club,” the diminutive Clark told reporters.

“I’ve driven the ball great so I’ve given myself a lot of chances and that’s what you have to do around here. If you’re in the fairway you can attack this course. If you’re struggling with the driver it’s going to play tough.”

The short-hitting Clark finished equal 25th at last week’s Tournament of Champions on the nearby island of Maui, but the compact Waialae course is more suited to his game.

He is coming off a solid year after winning the Canadian Open last July and losing a playoff to Bubba Watson at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in China in November.

Merritt, meanwhile, sank three short birdie putts and also rolled in three others from outside 13 feet to jump into contention. Ranked 289th in the world, he has not been a threat since finishing second at the St. Jude Classic in June.

Defending champion Jimmy Walker (66) was two strokes behind with fellow Americans Ryan Palmer (63) and Robert Streb (69). Palmer’s score was the best of the early starters.