GREENSBORO, N.C. – The track meet known as the Wyndham Championship continued Friday. Usain Bolt wasn’t here. Nor was Tommy Bolt. But there was plenty of speed to the far depths of under par at a Sedgefield Country Club course that was supposed to be more difficult because of new Bermuda greens and high rough.
If you weren’t going low, you were going home.
For starters, Tim “Lumpy” Herron shot 9-under 61, leader Jimmy Walker 62 and European Ryder Cup hopeful Sergio Garcia 63 on a calm morning and on smooth putting surfaces.
Herron’s 61, which included a bogey, was a remarkable feat considering he opened with 76 Thursday. His 15-shot improvement from the first to second round represents a best on the 2012 PGA Tour – one better than the 82-68 of Matt McQuillan at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the 83-69 of Charlie Beljan at the Valero Texas Open and 78-64 of Jonathan Fly at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Herron, though, didn’t come close to the 19-shot climb Michael Clark II pulled off in shooting 81-62 at the 2004 FedEx St. Jude Classic.
“It’s amazing how this game can tease you,” Herron said after tying the course record a day after having five three-putts. “You want to pack it in and then you shoot 61.”
Walker’s 62 gave him a 12-under 128 total for the midway lead, two shots better than Tim Clark (63-67), Garcia (67-63), Harris English (66-64) and Carl Pettersson (62-68).
Often teeing off with a 5-wood and irons, Walker continued momentum built up through top-30 finishes in his last three starts. He is playing well despite having suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee while making a “funny step” at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in late May. A cortisone shot the week of the U.S. Open took away swelling and pain.
“There for a while I was out of my routine because I couldn’t bend down,” said Walker, who said he’ll probably undergo surgery in the offseason to fix the same problem he had on his right knee a couple of years ago. “I couldn’t read putts the way I wanted to. I couldn’t line my ball up the way I wanted to.”
Garcia played as if he wants to play in the Ryder Cup, of which he once said, “I live for this.” He has been out of form of late, having missed the cut in the last two major championships. That included 76-75 at last week’s PGA, when he fell of Europe’s top-10 points list for automatic qualifiers. He hasn’t had a top-10 finish on Tour since February.
“Everybody knows how much the Ryder Cup means to me,” said Garcia, who has this week and next to re-enter the top 10 and avoid hoping to be one of two captain’s picks. “I would love to be in it. But if I’m not, I’ll be the No. 1 fan watching at home on TV.”
Long one of the game’s best ball-strikers, Garcia has endured further putting problems this year. Last week, in his words, he “putted like a dog.” And he figures he could have shot 63 instead of 67 in the first round here had he putted decently.
Friday was different. He saw the ball disappearing for a change, when he made a bomb on No. 4.
“Today, finally, I made some good putts,” Garcia said.