CROMWELL, CT – Despite a field-ranking in the bottom third for driving distance (98th), fairways-hit (84th), and greens in regulation (98th), Brian Harman leads his competitors at the Travelers Championship where it matters most: scoring.
The 31-year old Georgia native followed up a opening-round 64 with a second-day 66 to reach 10-under par.
Entering the day one off the lead at 6 under, Harman got off to an unremarkable start, matching three bogeys with three birdies to turn in even-par 35. But the former Georgia Bulldog kicked it into gear on his home nine, posting a bogey-free 4-under 31, highlighted by three birdies in a four-hole stretch (Nos. 4, 6 and 7) to grab the halftime lead at 10-under 130.
Harman credited a hot putter for his strong performance in the opening two rounds at TPC River Highlands.
“The putter has been really good so far. But I’ve been in position a lot. I’ve had a lot of good looks at it,” said Harman, who leads the field in Putting: GIR.
“I’m just able to put a little pressure on the course right now, which is nice.”
One back was Matt Jones, who seemed headed for the 36-hole lead after a birdie on the 10th hole moved the Aussie to 10-under par. The 38-year old veteran, though, cooled off considerably down the stretch, finishing his final eight holes with seven pars and a bogey to drop back to 9 under alongside overnight co-leader Zach Johnson (68) and Russell Henley (65) at T2.
Bryson DeChambeau (66), Paul Casey (67), and Beau Hossler (67) were one further back at 8-under par.
Two-time Travelers champ Bubba Watson, and little-known Lanto Griffin, posted matching low-round 63s to reach T8 alongside Rory McIlroy (69) at 7-under par.
Jason Day (68) headlines a logjam of six players one further back at 6-under par, one ahead of world No. 2 Justin Thomas, who started hot but finished his final 11 holes with three bogeys against one birdie to sign for a 69 and a two-day score of 5-under par.
“It was pretty frustrating. I felt like there wasn’t a very good round this morning,” said Thomas, who will be paired with Kevin Tway in Saturday’s third round.
“It wasn’t playing very hard. I drove it better today. Just I did not putt very well.
“I felt like I easily should have shot 5- or 6-under today, and to walk away with 1-under is pretty disappointing.”
Also disappointed was overnight co-leader Jordan Spieth, who made a triple bogey on the fourth hole (the par-5 13th hole) of the day, en route to a 3-over par 74. The score dropped Spieth 24 spots down the leaderboard to T25 at 4-under par.
“It’s just golf. 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,” said Spieth.
“So 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 engrained yet, but it should be a really good weekend.”
TOP 10: ROUND TWO
1. Brian Harman -10
2. Matt Jones -9
2. Russell Henley -9
2. Zach Johnson -9
5. Bryson DeChambeau -8
5. Paul Casey -8
5. Beau Hossler -8
8. Rory McIlroy -7
8. Bubba Watson -7
8. Lanto Griffin -7
11. Jason Day -6
17. Justin Thomas -5
17. Padraig Harrington -5
17. Charley Hoffman -5
25. Jordan Spieth -4
25. Stewart Cink -4
25. Emiliano Grillo -4
34. Patrick Cantlay -3
34. Brooks Koepka -3
53. Daniel Berger -2
53. Keegan Bradley -2
NOTABLES MISSING CUT
MC. Patrick Reed -1
MC. Bill Haas E
MC. Pat Perez E
MC. Xander Schauffele E
MC. Ryan Moore E
MC. Marc Leishman +1
MC. Jim Furyk +1
MC. Webb Simpson +5
MC. Brandt Snedeker +5
1. Rory McIlroy – 327.3 yards (T8)
2. Kevin Tway – 329.9 yards (T17)
3. Justin Thomas – 319.2 yards (T17)
98. Brian Harman – 292.5 yards (1st)
1. Daniel Berger – 24/28, 85.7% (T53)
2. Six Players – 23/28, 82.1%
84. Brian Harman – 18/28, 64.3% (1st)
1. Russell Henley – 34/36, 94.4% (T2)
2. Matt Jones – 32/36, 88.9% (T2)
3. Rory McIlroy – 30/36, 86.1% (T8)
98. Brian Harman – 24/36, 66.7% (1st)
1. Brian Harman – 37 putts, 1.542 (1st)
2. Billy Hurley III – 28 putts, 1.556 (T53)
3. Jason Day – 35 putts, 1.591 (T11)
VIDEO: SECOND-ROUND HIGHLIGHTS
“I just think it’s really a risk-reward golf course. You can take on as much as you want, but you run the risk — because it’s really easy to make bogeys here. I made three of them today getting out of position. So I enjoy that aspect of it a lot.”
– Brian Harman