ST. FRANCISVILLE — Jordan Russell has a simple strategy for attacking The Bluffs golf course.

“You have to drive it well to play it well,” said the 27-year-old from College Station, Texas. Russell followed his game plan perfectly, shooting a 6-under-par 66 for a two-day total of 9-under and a share of the Adams Pro Tour Merrill Lynch Open lead Thursday.

Russell, who fired a 69 in the first round, had an eagle on No. 9, five birdies and only one bogey on his round. He’s tied with first-round leader Zach Cabra, who shot 70 Thursday, and Joshua Creel of Cheyenne, Wyoming, who matched Russell’s 66.

Because of a four-hour rain delay Wednesday and a short delay for lightning Thursday, the majority of the groups with afternoon tee times were unable to complete their rounds. Tournament director Kris Neal said those golfers will finish up on Friday morning, then the field will be cut to the low 42 and ties, projected to be right at even par.

Mark Walker, who lost in a playoff in last year’s Merrill Lynch Open, and Scott Kelly, the tour’s money leader, were tied at 7-under. Hammond native Grady Brame Jr. is a stroke back at 6-under with Devin McCarthy of Canada and Brax McCarthy of Fort Worth, Texas. Four more golfers are tied at 5-under. All of the leaders have finished their first two rounds.

Russell is in his fourth year as a professional and has bounced around on several tours, including the Like most of the 119 players in this week’s field, he has aspirations of making on the PGA Tour.

“The Adams Pro Tour is great and the staff does a really good job and they put on quality tournaments,” said Russell, who has made all three APT cuts this year and is eighth on the money list with $8,690 in earnings. “This is a good place to grow your game and work on getting better and hopefully get to the next level.”

Once the cut is made, the $125,000 tournament will continue with the third round Friday and the final round Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. An awards presentation with the $25,000 check to the winner will be at 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.