Wheeldon and Connelly are T2 and T4; Tain Lee jumps out in front at Staal Foundation Open

Riley Wheeldon (Claus Andersen/ Mackenzie PGA Tour Canada)

Irvine, California’s Tain Lee shot a 6-under 66 on Friday at Whitewater Golf Club to take the 36-hole lead at the Staal Foundation Open presented by Tbaytel, the sixth event of the 2016 Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada season.

The 26-year old carded five straight birdies midway through his round and was without a bogey on Friday, building a two shot lead over Comox, British Columbia’s Riley Wheeldon and Santee, California’s Dan Miernicki.

“I felt like someone was going to go really low, so I was going pedal to the metal. The scores aren’t as low as I thought they would be, but obviously I’m happy with how I played,” said Lee, who parred his first seven holes but gained momentum after a draining a long birdie putt on the 18th, his ninth.

“On 17 I hit it to four feet, maybe even less, and the putt didn’t even touch the hole. I hit a bad putt. After that, I was a little frustrated with myself and made a good putt on 18. Once I saw that go in, I was comfortable and kind of free-wheeling,” said Lee.

After getting off to a slow start this year, Lee, a former Tour member, carded four rounds in the 60s last week for his best finish of the year, a T15 result at the Players Cup, giving him confidence heading into this week.

“Last week, I’ve been playing pretty good coming into this stretch. I think my confidence is a little higher than normal and so far it’s showing, but we’ll see what happens,” said Lee.

Two shots behind Lee were Miernicki, who carded the round of the day with a 7-under 65, and Wheeldon, who carded three birdies and a bogey.

Former National Team member Austin Connelly of Irving, Texas matched Wheeldon’s round of 70 to sit one stroke back in a tie for fourth. Team Canada Young Pro Squad member Corey Conners (Listowel, Ont.) holds a share of 33rd along with Brad Clapp (Chilliwack, B.C.) and Aaron Cockerill (Gunton, Man.). National Team member Blair Hamilton (Burlington, Ont.), Chris Hemmerich (Kitchener, Ont.), Adam Cornelson (New Westminster, B.C.), and Ryan Williams (Surrey, B.C.) are knotted at 57th.