A day after setting the course record at TPC Avondale with a 62, Zurich Classic of New Orleans leader Ben Martin went out Friday and shot 67 to maintain a healthy second-round margin.
Andrew Svoboda was bogey-free for 17 holes en route to a 68 that lifted him to second place at 12 under, three shots back from Martin. Seung-Yul Noh’s morning 68 and Robert Streb’s late 66 knotted the two in third another shot back. Keegan Bradley, Retief Goosen, J.B. Holmes and Bo Van Pelt also were among Friday’s big movers.
Here are 5 Things to know about Friday at the Zurich Classic:
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1. MARTIN KEEPS MOVING: Trouble at Nos. 17-18 could have gotten leader Ben Martin out of whack, with a bogey and a water-ball double bogey. But the Web.com Tour graduate found his form again on the back nine with four birdies and five pars – his third bogey-free nine in 36 holes.
Martin had kick-started his day with a birdie-eagle opening on TPC Avondale’s back nine and another birdie at No. 13, but he lost three of those shots with the misplays at Nos. 17-18. Martin told Golf Channel after his round that he went to No. 1 looking at it as an entirely new nine – which it was and wasn’t. It was new compared to his first nine Friday, but it was old hat compared to his first round. Birdies at Nos. 1, 4, 7 and 9 were separated by nothing but pars as Martin made up his lost ground and then some, getting to 15 under.
That held up for a three-shot lead at the tournament’s midpoint. Andrew Svoboda made a run by scattering three birdies over his first 11 holes before finishing birdie-birdie-bogey to pull within three, carding a 68.
Four shots back are Seung-Yul Noh and Robert Streb. Noh’s 68 was three shots off his Thursday pace, but birdies at Nos. 13-15 kept him in the mix as he’s bogey-free through 36 holes. Streb overcame two front-nine bogeys with five birdies on the back to improve on his first round by a shot.
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2. KEEGAN’S CHARGE: A 66 didn’t even get one of the top three rounds Friday, but for Keegan Bradley it was enough to move into the top 10 and keep chasing leader Ben Martin into the weekend.
The 2011 PGA Championship winner did most of his damage midway through his round with an eagle at No. 7 and birdies at Nos. 9-10. At the par-5 11th, Bradley reached the green in two and lagged his eagle putt to reasonable range inside 5 feet, but the putt lipped out – and he went on to card seven straight pars before closing the weekday rounds with a birdie.
Bradley told the Tour he felt ill this morning with something like food-poisoning symptoms. Nonetheless he was one of five players to shoot 66, the day’s third-best number. The others: Streb, Tommy Gainey, John Rollins and Daniel Summerhays.
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3. GOING LOW: Friday’s three best rounds belonged to Bo Van Pelt, J.B. Holmes and Retief Goosen.
Van Pelt’s 63 was just a shot off leader Ben Martin’s record a day earlier, lifting him to T-12 at 7 under. Van Pelt notched five birdies against a bogey on the front; after the turn, he eagled both par 5s and added a birdie as he moved 102 spots up the leaderboard.
Goosen birdied six of the middle 10 holes in his bogey-free second round. His 65 lifted him from even par to T-12 alongside Van Pelt and eight others – including Mark Anderson, who also shot 65 thanks in large part to two sets of back-to-back birdies on his back nine.
Holmes is a shot ahead after making the turn in 3 under. That was before birdieing four of his last seven holes for a 65 that got him to 8 under and T-10 alongside Will Wilcox.
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4. BLANKS IN BAYOU: It’s not unusual for notables to miss the cut in any given week on Tour. But a spotlight group? That’s an eye-opener – and it’s what happened this week to Rickie Fowler, defending champ Billy Horschel and Patrick Reed. Horschel came closest to playing the weekend and was even par (74-70), while Fowler was 3 over (75-72) and Reed was over par both days (74-76).
They weren’t alone, though. Four-time major winner Ernie Els also missed out on weekend play (72-71), as did Waste Management Phoenix Open winner Kevin Stadler (74-74).
Barely surviving the cut line of 2 under was Padraig Harrington (70-72), as well as Vijay Singh (70-71), David Toms (73-68) and Boo Weekley (71-70) with a stroke to spare.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Josh Teater carded the season’s fifth hole-in-one at No. 17 – with a bogey on either side of it before making the turn – and made the cut on the number at 2 under. He took to Twitter afterward, from his account @jteater12: “First hole in one on @PGATOUR today! Hit a great 6 iron! Hoping for 8 more hole in one opportunities @Zurich_Classic.” . . . After a first-round 65, Peter Hanson slid two spots to T-5 with a second-round 69; Erik Compton (66-68) also is T-5. . . . Alongside Bradley at T-7 are Charley Hoffman (68-67) and Jeff Overton (67-68). David Duval is in the T-12 mix after following his opening 68 with a Friday 69. . . . Arnold Palmer Invitational winner Matt Every withdrew after an opening-round 76, citing illness. . . . David Lingmerth had the day’s high round, a 79, to squander an opening-round 68 and miss the cut by five shots.