FORT WORTH, Texas –– Other than earning confirmation that there’s a reason why they call it “The Horrible Horseshoe” at Colonial Country Club, Friday went nicely for Graham DeLaet.
He made birdies in bunches – two early, three straight mid-round and then at his last two holes. He shot 3-under 67, pushed to 9-under 131, and had a penthouse view of the proceedings when his job was done. Storm clouds were forming, thunder was rocking the area, and DeLaet had not a care in the world.
He was the clubhouse leader. Let the afternoon wave deal with tumultuous weather, which ended up the winner – as it often is. After a lengthy delay for dangerous weather around noon, 54 players were left stranded just after 6:30 p.m. when thunder, lightning, and deep black clouds took over. Matt Kuchar, through 15 holes, ended the day Friday as the leader at 10 under, one shot ahead of DeLaet.
Of course, by then, DeLaet had long since left, though not before conceding that Colonial’s infamous stretch of holes grabbed his attention. And to think, he hadn’t heard of the nickname for the par-4 third, par-3 fourth, and par-5 fifth until the other day. “Definitely got me today,” DeLaet said after going bogey-bogey-bogey. He had been tied for the lead when he went to “the horseshoe,” only to come out of it a few behind. But while Josh Teater stumbled one group ahead, DeLaet slam-dunked a 28-foot birdie at the par-3 eighth and knocked in an 11-footer at the par-4 ninth to end with a smile.
As for what else transpired in the Texas heat, here are 5 Things that came out of Round 2:
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1. Boys, where’s the finishing touch?
If Boo Weekley wasn’t impressed by playing competitor Josh Teater’s 5-under 30 on his first nine holes – Colonial’s back nine – it’s for good reason. Weekley posted that same score.
“We were definitely rolling,” Teater said.
Don’t believe him? Then check it out. They each birdied the par-4 12th, par-4 14th and par-4 15th. Teater added birdies at Nos. 12, 17, and 18. Weekley added birdies at Nos. 10, 11, and 16.
One of them made a birdie on every back-nine hole save for the par-3 13th and when they trudged to the first tee, Teater was 10 under and in the lead, with Weekley just two back.
Thoughts of dueling 59s may not have been in the picture, but surely there was every reason to think we might have a couple of 62s, especially when they each birdied the par-5 first and Weekley made another at the par-4 second.
Then . . . kaput. The air was let out of the party balloons. The bartender yelled, “last call.” The street lights came on. The fun was over.
Teater played his last seven holes in 3-over, Weekley played them in 4-over.
“Obviously, I would like to have a few of those back, but that’s not how this game works,” Teater said, a reference to the holes he made miscues on. A drive well left crashed into trees a the par-4 third, he was wild right off the tee at the par-4 sixth, and at the par-3 eighth, Teater did what Weekley did, he three-putted for bogey.
Weekley’s biggest mistake came at the demanding, par-4 sixth, the last of the three-hole set called “the horrible horseshoe.” At the time 10 under and tied with Teater for the lead, Weekley lost his grip on the club, sprayed it miles right into a hazard, and made double.
Hardly had either one of them figured on following an outward 30 with inward scores of 37, but trophies aren’t handed out after 36 holes, so neither player was terribly upset. At 8-under 132, Teater left the course tied for second, one off the clubhouse lead, while Weekley sat in a share of eighth, at 6-under 134.
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2. Minor move, but it counts
The more difficult the task, the more splendidly Jordan Spieth handled it. Driving? Check. Hitting greens? Definitely. Putting? Eight one-putts always helps. So, give the 19-year-old credit for a round well played.
Except, that is, for the littlest detail. Marking his ball at the par-4 sixth. Oh, what a headache that was.
“It was just a bad break in timing,” Spieth said. “If I had hit the putt two seconds earlier, it wouldn’t have done that.”
He meant move, which is what the ball did, ever so slightly. He put the blame on his ball coming to rest in a shoe print, a pesky cleat mark forcing the slightest of movement just before he putted. Spieth sensed that it was going to move, but he had already grounded his club and that led him to call in an official.
Since it wasn’t wind that forced the ball to move, it was a one-stroke penalty and a bogey. Still, on a day when he made five birdies, the mishap was only a blip. The teenager from Dallas shot 67 and sits at 8-under 132, which was just one off the clubhouse lead when he called it a day.
Shortly after his round, the field list for next week’s Memorial Tournament was released and Spieth was not included. There had been speculation that he’d get a late invite, but there shouldn’t be any big concerns here. He’s in the hunt to win this week and he’s got a date at Dallas’ Lakewood Country Club June 3 to try and earn his way into the U.S. Open.
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3. Maybe he can interview himself
Given that he is more closely associated with his work for the Golf Channel than the PGA Tour these days, we didn’t think Steve Flesch was going to brush aside the electronic media after scripting a bogey-free 6-under 64.
Sitting at 8-under 132, Flesch perhaps was still celebrating his 46th birthday, which was the day before, but certainly he had good reason to wear a huge smile.
When he left the course, the veteran lefthander was tied with Spieth and Teater at 8 under, one off Graham DeLaet’s lead, and there are any number of ways to measure the shock value here. One, Flesch will make a cut for the first time since the Frys.com Open in late 2011. Two, in his last 34 rounds dating back to that Frys, Flesch is a whopping 93-over par. Three, going 68-64 is remarkable, considering that Flesch has broken 70 just three times in that span.
In as a former champion, Flesch doesn’t deny that he’s rusty and hardly without nervousness. But he’s also thrilled to be playing at Colonial.
“Golf is taking a back seat, obviously,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed doing television. But coming back to Colonial is like coming home.”
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4. What a shock, look who’s here
At a ballstriker’s golf course, is it any surprise that Matt Kuchar is perched perfectly? Though the horn blew before he could roll a 40-foot birdie try at the par-3 16th, Kuchar had already had a productive day.
Bogey-free and 5 under in his round, Kuchar is 10 under, leading DeLaet by one and he’ll return with 53 other players Saturday at 7:15 a.m. to try and maintain that lead.
Certainly, it’s no surprise to see him so firmly entrenched. He’s finished top 10 in 38 percent of his starts since 2011 (22-of-58) and he’s poised to make a 17th consecutive cut, third-best on the Tour.
At Colonial, Kuchar’s consistency mirrors his PGA Tour resume – six starts, six cuts made and a top 10.
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5. Short shots
Patrick Cantlay was 3-over on his round through seven holes, 8-over for the tournament, when he withdrew, citing a sore back. He’s missed the cut our withdrawn in five of his seven starts. . . . D.H. Lee withdrew midway through Round 2 sitting 12-over for the tournament. . . . When you’re trying to bounce back from an opening 75, making a triple-bogey at the par-5 first in Round 2 is hardly helpful. But that’s what Scott Gardiner did. . . . Justin Hicks birdied six of nine holes midway through a bogey-free 64 to roar up the leaderboard. Having started is round T-89, when he finished he was T-15. . . . David Lingmerth, the recent runner-up at the Players Championship, also put on a charge. Having opened with a 72 to sit T-103, Lingmerth had a bogey-free 64 to get into a share of T-25 with the afternoon wave still on the course. . . . Ouch! David Hearn opened with seven birdies to shoot 64, only to follow with a birdie-less 78 to miss the cut.