SAN ANTONIO – PGA Tour rookie Brendan Steele wrangled the winds and nearly emerged at the Texas Open solely atop the leaderboard.
But on the tour’s toughest day in years, no one got off that easy.
Steele carried the lead before double-bogeying on the par-4 15th, then blew a chance to reclaim it by missing a 6-footer for birdie on the final hole, keeping him in a rare seven-way tie atop the leaderboard at 3 under Friday.
That is tied for the second-most crowded leaderboard in the PGA Tour after 36 holes since 1970. Strong winds prevented anyone from breaking out, and Friday’s average round of 75.289 was the highest on the tour since the 2008 British Open.
“I got pretty beat up out there,” Steele said. “I think we all kind of did.”
After missing what would’ve been his fifth birdie, Steele tapped in No. 18 to finish at par-72. He shared the lead with Geoff Ogilvy (72), Rich Beem (70), Kevin Sutherland (70), Charley Hoffman (73), Brandt Snedeker (72), and Kevin Chappell (73).
A day that began with 5 under leading the pace was undone by winds that whipped higher than 30 mph. Players helplessly watched tee shots sail into the woods, and just 13 players shot under par Friday after there 50 sub-par scores in the opening round.
Defending champion Adam Scott followed his opening-round 68 with a 74. But on a day like this, 2 over was good enough to leave the Masters runner-up and three others just a stroke back.
“I can’t imagine anyone really running away with it,” Scott said.
A seven-way tie after 36 holes hasn’t been seen on the tour since the 1977 Westchester. The record was an eight-way tie at the 2001 Greater Hartford Open.
“It was blowing when it was dark this morning. It’s more like windy Texas days,” Ogilvy said. “Happy to get out of it with no damage done and still looking forward to the weekend.”
Beem, playing the tour on a major medical extension, had not only a share of the lead but made his first cut since the Houston Open last year. He missed the next six months after undergoing surgery for a bulging disc in his neck.
Beem, whose home in Austin is just north of TPC San Antonio, bogeyed just one hole and finished his final nine shooting par or better.
“This golf course kind of captures your attention,” Beem said. “You have to focus on every single hole and every single shot.”
The cut was set at 4-over 148, tied for second highest on the tour this season. Among those cut was Kevin Na, who in the windy conditions never stood a chance at overcoming his 16-stroke meltdown on No. 9 in the first round. He finished at 13 over.
The par-4 ninth also claimed another victim Friday: Richard Johnson, who withdrew after needing nine strokes to get through the hole. He then hopped on his Twitter account and wrote his shoulder was still feeling sore.
“Had a little Kevin Na hole on 9. Made a nice 9,” he wrote.
Garth Mulroy also didn’t make it through No. 9 – but for an entirely different reason. He was 2 over when he withdrew because his wife went into labor.