Jordan Spieth shot a 1-under 69 on Friday morning and then watched the wind come up and prevent anyone from overtaking at the Travelers Championship.
Spieth played in the morning, unlike fourth-ranked Jason Day and world number 3 Rory McIlroy. The Australian bogeyed the 18th for a 70 to finish at 2 over and miss his second straight cut, while 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 US 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 20mph 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.
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 as 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.’
South Africa’s Retief Goosen is a shot in front of McIlroy, after a second round 69 that included four birdies and three dropped shots.
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. Joining Watson and Day with a free weekend are South Africans Rory Sabbatini (+5) and Tyrone van Aswegen (+2).
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
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