Friday’s roundup: Jordan Spieth maintains lead
Cromwell, Conn. — Jordan Spieth played well enough in the second round of the Travelers Championship to stay in the lead. Rory McIlroy played just well enough to stay in the tournament.
Spieth shot a 1-under 69 on Friday morning, then watched as a windy afternoon kept anyone from overtaking him.
The conditions also kept fourth-ranked Jason Day from making the cut for a second straight week. He bogeyed the 18th for a 70 to finish at 2 over. No. 3 McIlroy shot a 73, also closing with a bogey, but managed to just sneak into the weekend at even par.
Spieth, who began the day one shot ahead after a first-round 63, started on the back nine. The 23-year-old Texan had to recover from a double bogey on the par-5 13th hole after hitting his tee shot left and out-of-bounds. He also had four birdies and a bogey to reach 8 under.
“We’ve been kind of far behind in a lot of the events in making comeback runs,” said Spieth, the two-time major champion who tied for 35th last week in the U.S. Open. “But being able to be toward the front of the pack on a Saturday afternoon is a beautiful position to be in and one that we’ll certainly embrace. I’m going to try to have a lot of fun this weekend.”
Patrick Reed (66) and Troy Merritt (68) were tied for second. Both fought off wind gusts that exceeded 20 mph to hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens.
“A golf course like this, even when the wind is blowing, if you’re hitting your tee shots straight, you’re going to have some wedges into the greens,” Reed said.
U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka isn’t in Connecticut this week, but former Florida State teammate Chase Seiffert is in contention. The 25-year-old had to qualify Monday to get into the tournament. He made two eagles Friday and finished with a 66 to reach 6 under.
“I came into the week with no status on any tour, but I knew my game was really good,” Seiffert said. “I just had to get it done. To come out and play the first two rounds the way I did, it gives me a lot of confidence.
Wesley Bryan (67), Daniel Summerhays (68) and Boo Weekley (68) also were 5 under.
Graham DeLaet led briefly during the afternoon, but had a double bogey on 18 for a 70 to drop into the group at 5 under.
Eighty-five players made the cut and 68 finished within seven shots of the lead.
The biggest drama of the afternoon was watching the world’s third- and fourth-ranked players try to make it to the weekend.
Day was close, until he hit his second shot at 18 into a greenside bunker. He failed to get up and down, missing a 6-footer for par.
McIlroy seemed to be in good shape on 18. He was on the right edge of the fairway and looking at a second shot 105 yards from the hole. But he slipped during the swing and the ball went just 63 yards and farther right.
“My right foot completely came out from under me,” he said. “Obviously, there was a tiny bit of drizzle. Maybe a little bit of surface water. Just, I don’t know. It was weird. As soon as I started down, I just felt it and I couldn’t stop.”
McIlroy may have saved his tournament on the 13th. After hitting his first shot in the water and taking a drop, he hit his third shot to 17 feet and made par. He then putted in from off the green on 14. McIlroy, who didn’t qualify for the weekend at Erin Hills, hasn’t missed consecutive cuts since 2012.
“I won’t be thinking about trying to win the tournament from there,” he said. “I’ll be thinking about trying to go and play a good, solid round of golf. But we have seen here in the past guys going out and shooting a low score and getting themselves back into the tournament.”
Anirban Lahiri of India, playing his first tournament since tying for second at the Memorial, shot a bogey-free 63 to move to 4 under. He made a 32-foot eagle putt on No. 13.
“I was out (since the Memorial) meditating,” he said. “So I’ve been a little bit rusty. The body is kind of easing its way back in. So I think I’m going to get better as the week progresses.”
Ryan Brehm (Michigan State) is at 4-under 136 after his second straight 68. Brian Stuard (Jackson) shot 78 and missed the cut at 9-over 149.
Two-time Travelers champion Bubba Watson, who missed the cut at Erin Hills, will have another weekend off. He followed up a 75 in the first round with a 67 and finished at 2 over.
Weather could also affect the scoring Saturday. A forecast of rain led tournament officials to move the start of the third round back to 11 a.m., with the players going out in threesomes off the first and 10th tees.
At Rogers, Arkansas, Sung Hyun Park nearly matched the course record with an 8-under 63 to take the first-round lead in the NW Arkansas Championship.
The South Korean, ranked eighth in the world in her first full season on the LPGA Tour, finished with nine birdies and needed only 24 putts to take a two-shot lead over Mel Reid, Ally McDonald and So Yeon Ryu.
Reid had a hole-in-one on the par-3 11th and reached as low as 8 under before falling back with a pair of back-nine bogeys.
Local favorite Stacy Lewis was one of five players three shots off the lead at 68.
Defending champion and second-ranked Lydia Ko opened with a 70.
At Madison, Wisconsin, Paul Broadhurst shot a 9-under 63 to take a two-stroke lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ American Family Insurance Open.
The Englishman had an eagle and seven birdies — three on his final four holes — at University Ridge. He won the Senior British Open and PURE Insurance Championship last year.
Brian Henninger had a 65, and tournament host Steve Stricker joined Kenny Perry and Billy Andrade at 66. Stricker is making his first start in his hometown event after turning 50 in February. He tied for 16th last week in the U.S. at Erin Hills.
Fred Couples was another stroke back along with Kevin Sutherland, Corey Pavin, Stephen Ames, Brandt Jobe, Jeff Maggert and Phillip Price.
Madison player Jerry Kelly opened with a 68, defending champion Kirk Triplett had a 69, and Nick Faldo shot 71. Faldo is making his first PGA Tour Champions start since 2015.
Players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairways because of wet conditions.
At Munich, Joakim Lagergren and Joel Stalter took the lead at the BMW International Open at 9 under at the midway point, one stroke ahead of former champions Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson.
Lagergren (66) had eight birdies and two bogeys for a 6 under in the second round. Stalter (68) soon joined him for a share of the lead. Both are bidding for their first European Tour title.
Garcia (70) was on course for the lead but bogeys on the 14th and 17th set the Masters champion back before he finished with his fourth birdie.
Stenson, the defending champion, went one better with a 69 as he joined Garcia, Richard Bland, Rikard Karlberg and Thomas Detry at 8-under.