Friday's golf: Jason Day handles rain, expands lead at Wells Fargo
Potomac, Md. — Jason Day shook his head vigorously after holing an 11-footer for birdie on his ninth hole at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm — not out of disgust, but to whip the excess water off his cap. For the rest of the round, Day shed the hat entirely.
Whatever it took to get through a wet blanket of a day in the Wells Fargo Championship.
Day expected a grind and got one, shooting a 3-under 67 in steady rain on Friday to expand his lead to three shots. Going for his first victory in four years, the former No. 1 player was at 10-under 130 through two rounds and relishing the chance to relax and watch the rest of the field try to stay dry.
Rain was expected the rest of the day, with more rain, unseasonable cold and stronger wind Saturday and even colder temperatures Sunday.
Day got a tip from playing partner Max Homa, who was his closest pursuer after a 66. Homa told Day he flinched because water dripped from the bill of his cap onto his putter, causing him to ram his birdie putt 6 feet by on the par-4 18th. Homa tossed the hat to caddie Joe Greiner before making the comebacker.
Day played his second nine holes hatless, a rare sight on the PGA Tour.
Day and Homa were grouped with Rickie Fowler, all past Wells Fargo champions at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina. The tournament is making a one-and-done appearance at TPC Potomac because its usual venue is hosting the Presidents Cup in September.
The course is just fine by tour standards, but the weather couldn't be much worse for early May in the mid-Atlantic. Shots from the first cut of rough sent water splashing off the clubface, and dollar bill-sized divots landed in the fairway with a loud thud.
Nobody spent much time fussing over the ball in the group of Day, Homa and Fowler, who shot 72 and was eight shots back. Day didn't bother to take down the gallery ropes before hitting a flop shot from well left of the 17th green, and Homa efficiently took relief from an embedded lie without waiting for a rules official.
Luke List (66), James Hahn (68) and Kurt Kitayama (67) were 6 under. Rory McIlroy, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 7, was playing in the afternoon after opening with a 67.
A day after he told a rules official he “can't wait to leave this tour,” Sergio Garcia was 5 under at the turn but bogeyed two of his final three holes for a 71. He was eight shots back and declined to speak to reporters for the second straight day.
Morgan Hoffmann, making a long-shot bid to keep his tour card after two years away from golf because of muscular dystrophy, missed the cut with rounds of 73 and 80. He has one start remaining on a major medical extension and needs a tie for second to earn full status for the rest of the season.
Duluth, Ga. — David Toms ran off three straight birdies after a rain delay and closed with a short birdie when he judged the wind right, giving him a 7-under 65 and a share of the lead with Ken Duke after one round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic.
Duke was first off at No. 1 on the TPC Sugarloaf and dropped only one shot. Equally important was finishing with pars in a strong wind after the rain stoppage.
Steve Flesch had a 67. Steve Stricker, in his second PGA Tour Champions tournament after being out six months recovering from an illness that caused him to lose 25 pounds, was in the group at 68. Stricker is coming off a runner-up finish last week.
Toms chose to take a cart, allowable on the 50-and-older circuit though rare for him, mainly because the other two players in his group were in carts and he feared a long walk back to the clubhouse knowing a rain delay was inevitable.
He realized they were in for a long slog — Sugarloaf, which formerly hosted a PGA Tour event, is more than a nine-mile walk from the first tee to the 18th green — when it got so wet that carts were no longer allowed in the fairway.
He made three straight birdies after the delay and felt solid the rest of the way, picking up three more birdies on the front nine before the wind got stronger.