At the halfway mark of the 2021 Valspar Championship, Keegan Bradley, and Sam Burns share the lead on 12-under par.
Bradley, who was the overnight leader, started his day on No. 10 and was steadily cruising along at 2 under through 14 holes but a closing flurry of birdie-par-par-eagle suddenly turned what had been a decent day into a superb 5-under 66, and a share of the 36-hole lead.
“I birdied 6 and eagled 9 and I turned a good day into a great day,” said Bradley, who has hit 80.6% of his greens this week (29/36).
“Man, it was a fun day and what a way to finish. It was a blast.”
Bradley’s final-hole eagle was of the hole-out variety on the par-4 9th at the famed Copperhead course.
“I had 119 adjusted, hole,” said Bradley, who is seeking his first win since the 2018 BMW Championship. “I played it 125, a little into the wind, and I hit the shot and you can’t see it from where we are, so you kind of have to wait for a reaction. And then when people put their arms up, normally that means it goes in.
“But, wow, what an exciting way to finish.”
The 24 year old Burns, meanwhile, posted the round of the day – and tournament (thus far), with a bogey-free 63, which featured eight birdies, including five in a six-hole stretch on Nos. 10, 11, 12, 14 and 15 to split the marquee spot with Bradley at halftime in Palm Harbor, Florida.
“Yeah, I didn’t even realize it was bogey-free until you said that,” said Burns, who last held the 36-hole lead at the Genesis Invitational.
“I think early I had a couple — I think on 3 and 4 I had six, seven feet for par. Made a good birdie on 1. Hit a bad tee shot there I was able to convert from, with a wedge. And then I think those putts on 3 and 4 were huge just to kind of keep the momentum going.
“And then we kind of made the back there and birdied the first three on the back and then just kind of were off.”
Four shots off the pace were Lucas Glover (65) and Charley Hoffman (66) who also carded bogey-free rounds to share third with Max Homa (68) on 8-under 134.
Charl Schwartzel, the 2016 winner of the Valspar, overcame an early bogey to shoot 65, which featured five birdies and an eagle en route to a two-day total of 7 under, good for T6 alongside Sungjae Im (67), Zach Johnson (67), and Tom Lewis (65).
“Just feeling very comfortable with my swing, my rhythm is really good and just sort of continuing from my ball striking from last week,” said Schwartzel, who lost in a playoff last week in New Orleans.
“Yesterday I had a bunch of opportunities, just ice cold putter, I think I had 34 putts, and today I made a few putts and that made the difference.”
Joaquin Niemann (68) and Jason Kokrak (69) headlined a group of six more players tied for 10th on 6-under par.
World No. 1 Dustin Johnson shot 68 and was T33 on 3 under, alongside defending champion Paul Casey who struggled to an even-par 71. One further back was world No. 2 Justin Thomas, who was 2 under following a disappointing round of 71 which included just one birdie from the PGA Tour birdie leader.
2021 Valspar Championship
Top-5 Leaders: Round Two
Pos-Player-To Par-(Rd 2)
1. Sam Burns -12 (-8)
1. Keegan Bradley -12 (-5)
3. Lucas Glover -8 (-6)
3. Charley Hoffman -8 (-5)
3. Max Homa -8 (-3)
Material from the PGA Tour Media was used to compile this report.