Four players on Friday passed Brendan Steele, he of the opening 62, as Scott Langley took a one-shot lead in the second round of the PGA Tour’s 2014 Travelers Championship.
Langley shot 65 to move to 11 under, good for a one-shot lead over K.J. Choi, Harris English and Michael Putnam.
Here are 5 Things to know from Friday’s second-round action at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.:
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1. NOT SHOWY, JUST TOPS: Scott Langley hasn’t needed the round of the day – so far anyway – in moving to the top of the Travelers Championship leaderboard. Rounds of 64 and 65 will do that for you.
What he’s been, rather, is steady – with 15 birdies against just two bogeys and a double bogey through two rounds.
That’s got the 25-year-old who played collegiate golf at Illinois in the hunt for his first win on PGA Tour. He’s finished third twice, at this year’s Valspar Championship and at last year’s Sony Open. And the midpoint lead is considerably better than his T-54 showing at the U.S. Open last week – in which he was 3 over after two rounds before closing with a pair of 75s.
“I’ve given myself a lot of short birdie opportunities the first two days. Those are nice,” Langley said. “When you start adding up three, four and five almost tap-in birdies, that just really kind of boosts you up.”
An opening 64 would often raise eyebrows, but Langley’s start was bettered by first-round leader Brendan Steele’s 62, as well as the 63s of Bud Cauley and Ryan Moore. Langley was a quiet T-4 alongside four others.
Consider him noticed now.
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2. U-TURNS IN CONTENTION: Steele fared seven shots worse Friday than Thursday to drop to T-5 at 9 under. That was the middle of the road for the three players who had been in the low 60s a day earlier.
Ryan Moore shot 68 on the heels of his opening 63, also finding himself T-5 at 9 under. Bud Cauley, meanwhile, paid the steepest price, a 70 after a 63 dropping him eight spots to T-10 at 7 under.
Michael Putnam, on the other hand, turned things around for the better by shooting 63 after an opening 67 to rise 26 spots to T-2 at 10 under.
“It was a perfect day for scoring,” Putnam said. “I left myself in some good spots and made a couple putts.”
Like Langley, the other players in a tie for second have been consistent: K.J. Choi has back-to-back 65s while Harris English has shot 66-64.
And along those lines, the Travelers Championship will wait another year for its third wire-to-wire winner. The two who have achieved it: Gene Littler (1959) and Tim Morris (1982).
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3. ‘DUKE’-ING IT OUT: Defending champion Ken Duke might not have putted into any bunkers to set up a par via a holed sand shot, as he did last week at Pinehurst, but a 2-over 72 might have felt similarly frustrating on the heels of an opening 65 – and at the site of his first Tour win.
Duke was done in by his tour of TPC River Highlands’ back nine to start his day – with three bogeys and a triple bogey against two birdies to make the turn at 4 over.
Recovering to go 2 under after the turn and make the cut, Duke will play the weekend – even if he has an eight-shot deficit to make up.
Last year, Duke didn’t exactly fare well after his Travelers playoff win, failing to add to his season’s five top-25 finishes afterward.
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4. ONE DEBUT CONTINUES: Of the five former collegians making their pro debuts this week, only Stanford product Patrick Rodgers will play the weekend. He’s T-20 at 5 under after adding a 69 to his first-round 66.
Alabama product Bobby Wyatt shot 72-68 to miss the cut by a single shot; Tennessee product Oliver Goss of Australia shot 70-71 to miss by two shots; Georgia product Joey Garber shot 72-72 to miss by five; and Stanford product and NCAA individual champion Cameron Wilson shot 73-75 to miss by nine.
Among the notable pros to miss the cut is Patrick Reed, twice a winner on Tour this year. Since winning the WGC-Cadillac Championship in early March, Reed has made just three of seven cuts, including last week’s U.S. Open en route to a T-35 finish. Reed shot 70-71 to miss the weekend by two shots.
Also missing the cut: Jonas Blixt, last year’s winner of the Greenbrier Classic, 70-70; Hunter Mahan, 70-72; Erik Compton, who made a splash at the U.S. Open with his T-2 finish, 74-69; and Zach Johnson 71-73.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Jason Day made the cut on the number (70-69). … Dustin Johnson is looking for another top 10 after posting one at the U.S. Open; he’s ninth (66-66). … Keegan Bradley has some work to do for a second straight top 10 (T-20, 66-69). … Vijay Singh, who has just one top-25 finish this year, is T-28 (68-68).
– The Associated Press contributed