Rhode Island's Valois Early Leader for Medalist September 8, 2012 | Lake Forest, Ill. By Christina Lance, USGA

Brad Valois, 25, of Warwick, R.I., fired a second-round 68 for a 36-hole total of 1-under-par 141 and took the clubhouse lead for medalist honors halfway through Sunday’s second round of stroke-play qualifying at the 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship.

Valois’ round, the lowest so far in the championship and one of two sub-par rounds Sunday morning, came at the par-71, 7,078-yard Conway Farms Golf Club. He holds a one-stroke lead over Todd White, 44, of Spartanburg, S.C., who carded a 1-over 72 at the par-71, 7,148-yard Knollwood Club, the companion course for the two rounds of qualifying.

The remaining 131 players in the 264-player field have afternoon starting times, including first-round co-leader Michael Castleforte, who will play at Knollwood.

The 2012 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play, which features six rounds, including a 36-hole final scheduled for Thursday beginning at 7 a.m. (CDT).

The U.S. Mid-Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

Valois, who started at the 10th hole, carded birdies at Nos. 12, 14 and 18 to make the turn at 3-under 33. Bogeys at the second and fifth, the latter a three-putt from 20 feet, were erased with two more birdies at the sixth and ninth holes. 

"The [sixth] hole was a great hole for me because I hit a great 3-iron to about 6 feet and made that putt," said Valois, who reached match play at last month’s U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills. "That gave me a little momentum push."

Sunday’s success was a marked turnaround from Valois’ 73 on Saturday, which he called his worst ball-striking day ever.

:Yesterday's round was a bit of a struggle. I really didn't do anything particularly well," said Valois, who owns his own financial-planning practice. "I made a couple putts yesterday to keep my head in the game, and I really had no expectations to come out here today."

Like Valois, White also advanced to match play at last month’s U.S. Amateur, where he lost in the second round. He carded two birdies and three bogeys at Knollwood Club, and was quick to factor weather and the match-play cut into his game plan.

"It got to a point where it was almost survival out there today," said White, a high-school history teacher. "The winds were tricky and it’s a difficult golf course. It got to a point where I said let’s not do anything stupid to make sure we’re seeded well for match play."

Following the heavy overnight rain, three first-round co-leaders struggled to replicate their Saturday success. Matthew Mattare, 26, of New York shot a 3-over 74 and John Ehrgott, 37, of Peoria, Ill., a 4-over 75, both at Conway Farms, for 36-hole totals of 143 and 144, respectively. John Rudolph, 35, of San Diego followed Saturday’s 69 with a disastrous 15-over 86 at Knollwood Club, recording 11 bogeys and two double bogeys for an overall 13-over 155, which likely won’t get him into match play.

Three-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith, 34, of Pittsburgh, Pa., shot a 3-over 74 at Knollwood Club for a total of 5-over 147. Defending champion Randal Lewis, 55, of Alma, Mich., returned a 4-over 75, also at Knollwood Club. His 10-over 152 will likely keep him near the match-play cut.

Christina Lance is a coordinator of championship communications for the USGA. Email her at clance@usga.org.