LONDON, ONT — Brian Carlson made nine birdies in his opening 13 holes at Highland Country Club on Friday during the second round of the Canada Life Championship. He couldn’t help but think that 59 was in reach.

Making par on his next four holes, though, the 23-year old settled for a 60, knocking in a three-foot birdie putt on the final hole to match the course record, most recently shot by Robby Shelton at the 2017 edition of the event.

The score, which is Carlson’s lowest-career round (both competitively and recreationally), by two strokes, puts the Madison, Conn., native a head of Canadian Taylor Pendrith by one stroke heading into the third round.

“As a pro golfer, you always want to have that one extra stroke in the round, so it was nice to finish with a birdie today,” said Carlson. “I missed my short putt on No. 17. I was thinking about 59, but I’m still happy with a birdie to finish.”

In his first season on the Mackenzie Tour, this is the second time Carlson moves into a weekend in contention, and the first since the Canada Life Open earlier this season, where he opened with a 63 to take the lead and eventually tied for second.

“It’s my first year, and it has been a learning process with lots of ups and downs,” said the Purdue University alum. “There have been a few bad weeks but also some good weeks, and it’s kind of cool to start the season and end the season strong.”

Currently in the 21st position on the Order of Merit, a win Sunday would allow Carlson to forgo the first two stages of Korn Ferry Tour Q-School. To do so, he says, he just needs to keep playing the game that has him 12-under par through two days.

“I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing; being conservative off the tee, generally speaking, and attacking pins,” said Carlson. “The rough is kind of hairy around the greens, so it’s pretty important to stay on the right side of the hole.”

Pendrith, who has received cortisone shots throughout the week for his shoulder, backed up a first-round 66 with a 63, his fifth time firing that score or better in his past five events.

The Canada Life Canadian Player of the Year will be the last player on the course Saturday alongside Carlson at 12:30 p.m., while the first tee time is set for 8:02 a.m.