A resurgent Jason Day fired a 62 to claim the halfway lead at the Travelers Championship ahead of Bubba Watson, with Justin Rose holing a series of long-range putts in a 63 which saw him end the day two off the lead.
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 26/06/21 12:03am
Justin Rose “lit up” his scorecard with eight birdies as he charged into contention with a second-round 63 at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
Rose arrived at TPC River Highlands on the back of a woeful performance at last week’s US Open, where rounds of 78 and 77 saw him miss the cut by a distance, but a hot putter lifted his spirits at TPC River Highlands.
The Englishman cruised to the turn in 30 and then holed from 25 feet at the 10th before adding further birdies from outside 30 feet at the 11th and 14th, although he then three-putted the 15th green to close two shots behind leader Jason Day.
“I putted great today,” said Rose, who has slipped to 44th in the world rankings having played only five events since withdrawing from the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a back problem in March. “I made a lot of mid- to long-range putts, which obviously got my scorecard lit up.
“I just had the mindset of not pushing too hard, not going to flags when I didn’t have the right number or kind of hitting driver off holes that I wasn’t front loading the gamble. Just being a bit more patient with my game.
“I hit a few more three-woods off the tee, got the ball in play, and was able to go from there. I’ve not been playing my best really and I think that if you get overly aggressive with your mindset you can kind of then end up making silly mistakes.
“When you’re playing great, you can afford to make a silly mistake because you know you’re going to make some birdies to kind of counteract that. But when you’re not really fully flying, those little mistakes hurt you a bit more.”
Day is another former major champion who has tumbled down the world rankings, and the Australian missed out on qualifying for last week’s US Open having not managed a top-10 finish since Pebble Beach in February.
The world No 71, like Rose, has also had some back issues in recent weeks and was forced to pull out of The Memorial earlier this month, but he defied some stiffness to card a superb, eight-birdie 62 which propelled him to the top of the leaderboard on nine under, one shot ahead of a similarly-resurgent Bubba Watson.
“The body is okay, just stiff. It’s sore to get onto the other side of the golf swing, so any time going left was a little bit sore,” said Day. “It is what it is. I haven’t had time to really rest it since I kind of put it out. I think having a couple weeks off was great, but you just need a little bit more time is what it is.
Get the best prices and book a round at one of 1,700 courses across the UK & Ireland
“Sometimes when you do have sort of an injury or stiffness, even if you’re sick, sometimes you can come out and play some good golf. I was fortunate enough to not really get in my own way today. Hit a lot of good quality drives and my tee to green was pretty solid, I thought. Then holed a lot of crucial putts out there, so that’s what kept everything rolling.”
Watson provided one of the most unusual highlights of the season when the clubhead on his driver snapped off as he made impact with his tee shot at the second, his 11th, although he still managed to birdie the hole.
The left-hander, who was in contention at the halfway stage at Torrey Pines before fading over the weekend, matched his first-round 66 to get into a share of second with Kramer Hickok, who held the outright lead until running up a double-bogey five at the short 16th.
Rose shares fourth with Ireland’s Seamus Power, who birdied his last two holes for a 67, and US Open 54-hole co-leader Russell Henley, while Ian Poulter and Tom Lewis added strength to the English challenge and go into the weekend just three off the lead.
Poulter birdied four of the last six holes to return a 66, with Lewis also finishing strongly to return back-to-back 67s while American stars Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed both fired 66s to close on five under par.
Live PGA Tour Golf
June 26, 2021, 9:00pm
DeChambeau’s arch-rival Brooks Koepka was flirting with the cut line until he birdied 15 and 16 and then holed his 159-yard approach to the 18th for a spectacular eagle-two, although two late bogeys saw him slip to four under par.
World No 2 Dustin Johnson scraped into the weekend with nothing to spare on two under, thanks to three birdies over his last four holes capping a 68 and getting him to two under along with Phil Mickelson and Paul Casey.