When Padraig Harrington put his peg in the tee box on the first hole, the wind carried a big oak leaf directly in his path. Harrington tried to swipe it away with his club, but the wind wouldn’t cooperate and kept blowing it back in his way. The three-time major winner finally leaned over, picked up the leaf and handed it to his caddie.

It was that kind of day.

It was typical of what the players faced Saturday during the second round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic at TPC Sugarloaf. The wind was steady, with intermittent gusts, and the temperatures stayed in the low-to-mid 60s all day. Both were contributing factors in holding down the scores and bunching up the leaderboard.

At the end of the day it was David Toms who overcame the conditions enough to shoot a 1-under 71. A LSU graduate and Chick-fil-A fanatic – chicken strips this week since his wife, Sonya, isn’t present – Toms has the lead at 8-under 136.

Toms leads Ken Duke, with whom he shared the first-round lead, by two shots. Duke birdied the 18th hole to shoot 73 and stands at 6-under 138.

“Just survival really,” Toms said. “I knew it was going to be a tough day. Cooler weather. When you get this age, your body kind of hurts on a day like today. And it was breezy. It’s hard to pull a club, it’s hard to get the ball close, so you’re always defensive, not really sure where the wind is coming from.”

The group that is tied for third at 4-under 144 includes Ernie Els, Fred Couples, Jay Haas, Mark Walker and Steve Flesch. Tied for eighth at 3-under 141 are Brett Quigley, Colin Montgomerie, 2014 champion Miguel Angel Jimenez, Steve Stricker and Retief Goosen, whose 67 matched 2015 winner Olin Browne for the day’s low round.

Toms had two bogeys on the front nine, but his card was clean the rest of the day.

“If you had told me I could have an under-par round today before I started, I probably would have taken it,” Toms said.

The big momentum swing for Toms came on the 15th hole. He made a birdie, and Duke walked away with a triple-bogey after the wind blew his first putt off the green. That elevated Toms from one shot back to three shots ahead.

It was the first stumble for Duke. He birdied the second hole to take the lead and reeled off 12 consecutive pars until disaster struck at 15.

“That was unfortunate because he is playing really well,” Toms said. “I mean, he was in complete control all day. He’s always been a good ball striker, but he seems like his touch is really good on the greens right now.”

Toms, who questioned his own putting before the tournament began, averaged 1.563 putts in the first round and 1.667 in the second round.

“It’s certainly been a strength,” Toms said. “So far my speed has been good, and I think that’s the key, if I can keep that up. I feel good about reading the greens. It’ll have to continue to be good to shoot a low round.”

Those who mastered the wind were able to make the biggest gains on the leaders.

Els, playing in the first group that started on the 10th tee, bogeyed the first hole but reversed his fortunes and shot a 4-under 68. He climbed 28 spots and will play in the final group with Toms and Duke.

Haas, 68, didn’t quite shoot his age, but his 69 boosted him 23 spots and put him in position to contend for his first PGA Tour Champions win since 2016. Haas was aided by a hole-in-one on the 11th, his fifth in competition and the 19th of his career.

“At impact, my first thought was, all right, I got it over the water, but I looked up, and it was right at it,” Haas said. “I thought this is going to be close. Really couldn’t see it go it. I know it kicked left toward the hole and Jay Jr. said, ‘It’s in.’ So it was quite a thrill.”

With 21 players within six shots of the lead, the final round could get interesting.

“If a guy has a hot round, anybody can win the golf tournament,” Toms said. “For me, I’ll have to play better than I did today. I don’t know what it’ll take. Hopefully it’s a little warmer and we get back to normal temperatures, but if not, we’ll grind it out again.”

Either way, Toms wasn’t going to fret about it. He headed to the hotel with plans to watch the LSU baseball game on television.

Robert Allenby withdrew with a back issue after two holes. University of Georgia alum Tommy Tolles withdrew after shooting a first-round 80.

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