Lee, a mini-tour player who finished fifth in last year’s Open at Chateau Elan, is 9-under for the tournament and one of 15 players in the red.
Current and former Kennesaw State standouts Kelby Burton and Matt Nagy each fired 68s Friday and were in a tie for second with Jay McLuen (72), the first-round co-leader with Jimmy Beck, another Owl, at 6-under. Todd Ormsby (70) and Beck (73) were tied for fifth at 5-under.
The group of McLuen, Nagy and Burton were in the lead until Lee turned in his scorecard. Starting on the back nine, Lee was a modest 1-under at the turn, but then came in with five birdies in his final nine holes.
With two rounds still to play, Burton and Nagy are still very much in it, and Pinetree being Kennesaw State’s home course will work to their advantage.
“I definitely like where I am,” said Nagy, a 25-year-old mini-tour player. “Hopefully, I can just stay focused on my game for the next 36 holes.”
Nagy started on the back nine and finished strong on the front with three straight birdies. His birdie a No. 7 came from a 123-yard approach from the pine straw off the fairway that landed 3 feet from the hole.
Nagy finished the round with five birdies and a bogey.
Burton, another 10th-hole starter, was 1-under at the turn before boosting his round with three birdies on the front nine.
“I played really well. I’m driving it well and hitting my iron well,” Burton said. “A lot of my putts didn’t go in, but I stayed patient and stuck with it.”
Beck is also in the mix, despite following his first-round 66 with 73 on Friday.
The birdies didn’t come as easily for Beck in second round. After making four birdies and an eagle in a blemish-free first round, he only came away with one birdie Friday — on No. 6 — which was canceled out by bogeys on 5 and 13.
Former North Cobb standout Chris Nicol shot 69 and is 4-under overall, tied for seventh with Alpharetta’s Tim Weinhart.
Nicol’s putter worked in his favor, which helped him get five birdies Friday. He opened his rounds with birdies on 10 and 11, and he ended it with birdies on 8 and 9.
“I made, pretty much, every putt I looked at,” Nicol said. “If you can read them right, the faster they are, the easier it is for me. All I have to worry about is getting started on line. I don’t have to worry about hitting it and getting it to the hole.”
Weinhart could have been in shape for a shot at the lead, with eight birdies, but three bogeys and a triple-bogey at the par-4 13th erased nearly all the progress he made.
Another former Kennesaw State player, Jonathan Klotz, shot 71 and is tied for 10th at 2-under with Kennesaw Mountain senior Jonathan Keppler (74).
Klotz, who is coming off elbow surgery, shot 71 for the second straight day. He went through a rough stretch on the back nine with two bogeys and a double, but he was 3-under on the front with three birdies.
Keppler said his irons were erratic Friday after they worked fluently in the first round, resulting in six bogeys to just four birdies.
“My irons were dreadful,” Keppler said. “They were so bad (Friday). They were kind of going everywhere, and I didn’t know where they were going.”
Former Harrison standout Patrick Garrett is 2-over after a 69 on Friday. Kennesaw resident Daniel Kim (76) was 4-over, and former Kell golfer Zach Lindsey (74) made the cut at 5-over.
Former Kell golfer Michael Hines, now playing at Georgia Tech, is also sitting at 5-over, as is Fox Creek club pro Brian Dixon (73). Acworth’s Rob French (75) and Craig Stevens (72), the head pro at Brookstone Golf and Country Club, made the cut on the line at 7-over.
Rob Williams, the head pro at Pinetree, shot 77 and was among those who missed the cut at 13-over. He played both rounds with Pinetree member Brian Katrek (81) and former Atlanta Braves great John Smoltz (80), who were each 16-over.