ST. ALBANS, Mo. — One day after an opening round 71 left him wondering "what if," Belleville native Christian Heavens left the Country Club at St. Albans on Friday afternoon with a world of confidence.
And just one shot out the lead at the Metropolitan Open Golf Championship.
Heavens became the first player in tournament history to record a 29 over nine holes and finished with a second round 4-under-par 66 to lead the way for metro-east players.
Five shots behind first-round leader Shawn Jasper entering Friday, Heavens began his round on the back nine and quickly got back to level par with a birdie on hole No. 11.
Consecutive eagles on holes 14 and 15 moved Heavens to 4-under and when a birdie on No. 16 followed, the former Georgetown (Ky.) College standout was in the lead at 5 under.
Heavens followed with pars on 17 and 18, then shot a 37 on the front nine to finish with his 66.
"I've never had a 29 in a tournament before. But I have had them in practice rounds," Heavens said. "I played well and hit some very good shots.
"Holes 17-18 and 1-2 are really difficult and so when I got through with those, I just of kind went for birdies the rest of the way. I had good shots at birdies on holes 8 and 9, but just missed."
Sitting at 3-under-par 137 for the tournament, Heavens is tied with former Kansas University player Chris Thompson, one shot behind Jasper heading into today's final round.
Jace Long, Drew Stoltz and Tim O'Neal are tied for fourth at two-under-par 138.
The final round begins at 7 a.m. The 36-hole cut was at 7-over-par 147.
Among the other local players qualifying for the final round were Chris Brant (140) and Devlin Keenoy (144) of Edwardsville, Collin Neeman (144) of Waterloo, Mark Gardiner (146) of Mascoutah and defending champion Mitchell Gregson (147) of Waterloo.
The hard-luck story of the day belonged to Thompson, who played his first 12 holes at 5-under-par, but made bogeys on four of his final six holes come in with a 69.
"I had it going good for the first 12 holes. Then I three-putted 13 and hit a bad shot on 14 to make bogeys on both holes. The wheels kind of fell off the last six holes," Thompson said. "I'm still in a good spot. I just need to remember what I did right the first 12 holes and forget what I did wrong the last six."
Brant also is in position for a second-straight top 10 finish. Third last year, Brant carded a 1-under-par 69 and is at even-par after 36 holes.
"It was a little better today. I had an eagle on my fifth hole which helped," Brant said. "The course is just playing tougher this year. Hopefully, I'll come out and put a good score up tomorrow."
Other local players competing, but missing the cut, were John Wirth (153), Steven Souchek (153), Torrey Welsch (156), Gerald Mozur (163) and Alex Flaugher (169).