Brian Harman took advantage of a rough day by Jordan Spieth on Friday to seize control of the lead through two rounds of the Travelers Championship at Cromwell, Conn.
Harman, who began the day in a tie for third place, shot a 4-under-par 66 at TPC Highlands to take a one stroke lead at 10-under 130. Behind the American tied for second are Australian Matt Jones and Americans Russell Henley and Zach Johnson, who shared first place with Spieth after the first round.
Spieth, the defending champion at the event, fell way down the leaderboard after shooting 3-over 73, 10 strokes more than he needed to get through the course Thursday. Spieth is part of a nine-way tie for 25th.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t stick to the game plan and it cost me probably two or three shots today just on game planning, stuff I can control before I hit it,” Spieth told the Golf Channel. “That’s the most frustrating part from today.”
Spieth made the turn at 4 over after a rough showing in starting on the back nine, particularly on the par-4 13th, where he hit the ball out of bounds and into the water. The hole he had birdied Thursday gave him fits a day later, ending in a triple bogey from which he couldn’t rebound. Spieth added a bogey on 15, hitting into the water again, and didn’t card a single birdie through his first nine holes.
The second half of his round featured two more bogeys, but a birdie on 1 and eagle on the par-5 6th for the second day in a row were redeeming bright spots.
“It’s just golf,” Spieth said, according to Golfdigest.com. “It’s kind of like yesterday, I got three or four shots extra out of the round, and today, I lost three or four based on how I felt.
“So I still feel like I actually made progress from yesterday to today where I wanted to, which was throughout the swing. It just kind of was a different feel, so it’s not quite ingrained yet, but it should be a really good weekend.”
Harman, too, had his struggles on the back nine, making the turn even after three birdies and bogeys apiece. But he found his groove from there, sinking four birdies, including three from Nos. 4 to 7, to take control of the lead.
“I’m chipping the ball pretty good when I get out of position, so I’m giving myself good looks at it,” Harman told the Golf Channel. “That’s what’s tough about these greens, sometimes it’s better to have a 10-footer up the hill than a 4-footer on the side of the hill. So I’m doing a good job picking my spots.”
Johnson played a bogey-free second round, though he was only able to birdie the 9th and 13th in losing his share of the lead.
Two time-winner Bubba Watson and Lanto Griffin shared the low round of the day at 63 and are part of a three-way tie for eighth with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy at 7 under.
Watson started strong, converting a 7-foot putt for birdie on the 11th before making par with another short putt on 12. He pointed to the putts as the catalyst for his eagle on 13, and he would go on to add four birdies on his last seven holes.
“That freed me up a little bit, gave me some confidence going to the next hole where I made the eagle,” Watson said. “So it was just a combination of better thinking and making the putts. When you make putts, you can score on any golf course.”
Tied for fifth at 8 under are Bryson DeChambeau, Beau Hossler and England’s Paul Casey.
No. 2 Justin Thomas is part of a tie for 17th at 5 under. U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka is in a group tied for 34th at 3 under.
Masters champion Patrick Reed (1 under) and 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele (even) were among notable players to miss the 2 under cut line.
–Field Level Media