HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — Colt Knost believes he's finally ready to succeed on the PGA Tour no matter how much work he still has ahead at the RBC Heritage.
Knost shot 6-under 66 Friday to take a two-stroke lead over Carl Pettersson after the second round. Knost, tied for the first-round lead with Chad Campbell and Vaughn Taylor after a 67, sat at 9-under 133.
Pettersson shot 65, his best showing in 32 rounds at Harbour Town Golf Links. Two-time RBC Heritage winner Boo Weekley (66) and Harris English (68) were another shot off the lead at 6 under.
Masters champion Bubba Watson and most of the world's best are taking a break one week after the year's first major. But world No. 1 Luke Donald is playing. He needs a top-eight finish to retain the top spot over idle Rory McIlroy and bounced back from an opening 75 with 69 to slide inside the cut line.
Donald said staying No. 1 is a motivator.
"But the goal, obviously, is to get in contention and win," he said. "You can't control the other stuff."
Knost, 26, was one of the fastest risers, winning the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Public Links and helping the Americans win the Walker Cup in 2007. He won twice on the Nationwide Tour in 2008, his first season as a pro, and easily qualified for the PGA Tour.
"I felt like I was ready for this level out here," Knost said. "And apparently, I wasn't."
Knost missed the cut in 13 of 24 events and earned just $180,734 to lose his card. He regained his card after another season on the Nationwide Tour but again struggled in 2011, missing cuts in 15 of 26 events.
Knost kept his card at Q-school — he was in tears when he believed a double bogey on the final hole cost him his card — and has since tried to rediscover the work habits and confidence that made him one of the decade's best amateurs.
"I don't know if I just didn't continue with the same work ethic or not or I didn't have the belief," Knost said. "But now I feel like I'm starting to get my game back where I like it."
Knost started Friday with a stretch of three birdies in five holes to give him the lead at 8 under. He made his third birdie on the par-5 fifth and added two more birdies to his bogey-free round that stoked his confidence.
"I felt so comfortable out there being around the lead even though it's only Friday," he said. "I think I'm also going to feel great this weekend."