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Red-hot Reed moves two ahead at La Quinta

(Reuters) - American Patrick Reed once again flourished in near-perfect scoring conditions as he stretched his lead to two shots in Friday's second round of the $5.7 million Humana Challenge at La Quinta, California.

One stroke ahead overnight after opening with a nine-under-par 63 on the Arnold Palmer Private course at PGA West, the red-hot Reed followed up with another sizzling 63, this time at La Quinta Country Club.

The 23-year-old piled up eight birdies, an eagle at the par-five fifth and a lone bogey in dazzling desert sunshine with barely a hint of wind to post an 18-under total of 126 in the pro-am event being played at three venues.

American journeyman Brendon Todd birdied his final hole for a flawless 63 on the Palmer Private layout, ending the day a stroke in front of compatriot Ryan Palmer, who carded a 65 at La Quinta.

Fellow American Charley Hoffman, the 2007 champion, was a further shot back at 14 under after returning a 66 on the Nicklaus Private course.

Reed, who made up for some wayward driving in Thursday's opening round with a sizzling putting display, tightened his hold on the tournament after producing much better form off the tee on Friday.

"To start off the day hitting a perfect drive on the first and second holes ... gave me a little bit of extra confidence in that club," the Texan told reporters. "So I was able to attack and be more aggressive off the tees.

"Whenever you start with hitting a soft sand wedge to four feet on the first and tap in for birdie ... you just carry that momentum straight through."

PLAYOFF BREAKTHROUGH

Reed is bidding for his second PGA Tour title, having clinched his first at last year's Wyndham Championship where he beat rookie sensation Jordan Spieth in a playoff.

"What I'm doing so far is working - 63, 63 - so we're just going to stick to that game plan, stick to our notes and hopefully close it out," said Reed.

"My putter is really working. I hit a lot of good putts today, missed a couple, but at the same time I made some. As long as I keep doing that, come Sunday, we'll see."

Todd, still seeking his maiden PGA Tour title after playing his rookie season on the U.S. circuit in 2009, said Reed's sizzling scoring had spurred him on to stay in touch with the lead.

"It just kind of kept me motivated coming in to make as many birdies as I could, distance myself from the pack and get near Patrick," Todd told Golf Channel

"I just have to keep doing what I am doing. I've got a good team around me. Just keep working on the same things and gain some more experience out here."

Keegan Bradley aced the par-three third on the Nicklaus Private course with a seven-iron from 177 yards, his ball pitching on the front portion of the green before curling from right to left and then disappearing into the cup.

Bradley, who clinched his maiden major title at the 2011 PGA Championship, ended up shooting a 66 to sit a distant nine strokes off the pace heading into Saturday's third round.

American world number six Zach Johnson, who won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii 11 days ago, carded a 68 on the Nicklaus Private course to finish at 11 under.

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry)

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