By Ron Balicki, Golfweek
RUMFORD, R.I. – On the surface, Cameron Wilson and Rafael Becker don't appear to have much in common.
Wilson is from the East Coast – small Rowayton, Conn. – and was a junior on Stanford’s golf team this past season.
Becker is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and just completed his college eligibility at Wichita State.
This week, Wilson is competing in his sixth Northeast Amateur at Wannamoisett Country Club while Becker is playing here for the first time.
But at the halfway point of the 52nd Northeast Amateur, the two do, in fact, have a common thread -- they share the lead at 6-under 132.
Wilson, who competed in the 2012 U.S. Open, matched his opening round 3-under 66, while Becker followed up his first-round leading 7-under 62 with a 1-over 70.
Cory Whitsett, who helped lead Alabama to the NCAA title earlier this month, followed his opening 66 with a 68 and stands at 4-under 134, one stroke better than Bo Andrews (66-69).
In joint fifth, at 2-under 136, are 2011 U.S. Walker Cupper Patrick Rodgers, whose 5-under 65 was the best round of the day even with a bogey on his final hole, and local favorite Bobby Leopold (70), the only mid-amateur to advance to the Sweet 16 in each of the past two U.S. Amateurs.
Only two other players are under par – Curtis Thompson and Evan Beck.
Defending Northeast champion Justin Shin rebounded from his 5-over 74 start with a 3-under 66 and stands at 2-over 140 and tied for 15th.
Becker’s up-and-down round consisted of three birdies and four bogeys, but a strong finish that held it all together.
“I didn’t give myself many chances (for birdie) like I did yesterday,” said Becker, a two-time Brazilian Amateur champion. “My iron shots were not so crisp ... but I finished strong so I’m happy with that.”
Becker made bogey at Nos. 4, 7 and 8 before securing his first birdie at the tough, par-4 ninth. Again he made bogey at the 13th, but salvaged the round with birdies at 15 and 17. At the finishing hole, his 8-foot birdie putt lipped the right side of the cup.
“It could have been a lot worse, but I managed to shoot a good number,” Becker said. “I really wasn’t thinking about my round yesterday because I knew you’re not going to have too many rounds like that. So a 70 today is about as good as I could do and I’m happy about that.”
Having played in the Northeast Amateur since he was a young teenager, Wilson is no stranger to all the ins and outs and quirks of the Donald Ross-designed course.
“I really feel comfortable on this golf course,” he said. “I have a good game plan on every hole. This year the course may be in the best condition I’ve ever seen. The greens are firm and fast and the rough is difficult. If you get in the rough it’s almost like an automatic bogey or worse.”
Starting on the back nine, Wilson birdied Nos. 10, 14 and 17, which put him in the lead at the time. He added another birdie at No. 1 with his longest made putt of the day a 20-footer. He bogeyed Nos. 2 and 6 before his final birdie at the seventh.
“I drove it well today and hit some good short iron shots, keeping them in spots below the hole,” said Wilson, who last week was fifth at the Sunnehanna Amateur. “I felt good about my game coming into this week and feel it’s in good shape. Overall, so far, it’s been a good start to the summer.”
Following Friday’s third round, the starting field of 88 will be cut to the low 50 scorers and ties for Saturday’s final 18 holes.