5 Things: Todd takes lead at Byron Nelson
IRVING, Texas –– The crowds at TPC Four Seasons for the HP Byron Nelson Championship were out in force on Friday to root on two local boys: 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, the PGA Tour’s latest sensation, and Scottie Scheffler, a 17-year-old University of Texas signee from nearby Highland Park High School, making his Tour debut. Neither disappointed.
On a gorgeous late afternoon, Spieth found himself in the trees to the right off the tee at the par-4 18th. But he had a shot at the green and a yardage he liked and waited for the wind to die down. Once it did, he struck a low 5-iron from 180 yards that never left the flagstick and stopped 3 feet from the hole. The crowd roared its approval, and Spieth canned the shorty for a 3-under 67 to trail 36-hole leader Brendon Todd by five strokes.
“If I’m not mistaken, I’ve been 3 under after cut day all four years I’ve played here so I haven’t improved a lick since I’m 16,” Spieth joked.
Scheffler, the reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion, went off in the morning and had it to 4 under through 14 holes before back-to-back bogeys. But at 17, he listened to his caddie/sister Callie’s read and rolled in a 34-footer for birdie. He finished with 68 and made the cut in his Tour debut. Then Scheffler signed everything from towels to gloves to balls in what he called his first autograph session. “I don’t want to keep you from your adoring fans,” a family friend kidded.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from the second round at the HP Byron Nelson Championship:
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1. TODD TAKES COMMAND: Brendon Todd is in the midst of what he calls his best season on the PGA Tour. He made all four cuts in the fall to jump-start his season, and continued his good form this calendar year playing in his first Sunday final pairing at the Humana Challenge and finishing sixth.
Now, he added his first 36-hole lead at a Tour event with a 6-under 64 on Friday for a 36-hole total of 8-under 132.
Golfweek readers who pay attention to the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings shouldn’t be surprised to see the 28-year-old Georgia grad's name at the top of the leaderboard. Todd ranks 35th this season.
As an alternate last week for The Players Championship, Todd spent time in Jacksonville practicing with his caddie and found his groove.
“I had an awesome practice, lots of good short-game work, and I have been hitting the ball solid for about a year and a half now,” he said. “So for me it was about being patient and waiting for the weeks to come where I would get the up and downs and make some birdies.”
Todd did just that. He opened with six straight pars and then the hole started looking big. He birdied seven from short range, dropped a 24-footer at eight and was off to the races, taking just 22 putts.
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2. CASEY'S SIZZLING 27: Warm, sunny weather and a light breeze made for good scoring conditions, but 27? C’mon. When Todd was informed of Paul Casey’s blistering back nine score, which included six birdies and an eagle, he said, “Did he? Wow.”
To hear Casey tell it, “the seal was broken when I got to 10 and it spiraled from there.”
Casey, for one, said he had no idea how low he had gone; he was more concerned with making sure he made the cut. Casey’s caddie had his own issues. “Par 35 threw him,” Casey said of his 8-under 27, the eighth player in Tour history to record that score for nine holes.
Casey can be forgiven for his ignorance for he was too busy playing “in the moment.”
“I was so into every single shot and I was in the moment," he said. "I think that’s the best way of explaining it. I stayed present in the ‘now.’ Didn’t Ben Crane do something about that?,” referencing one of Crane’s hilarious YouTube videos. “I have an image of him dressed up that’s not good.”
Casey eagled two of the par 5s – Nos. 7 and 16 – and finished with 63, a personal-best on Tour.
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3. KAYMER RE-FUELING: Tournament namesake Byron Nelson won 11 straight PGA Tour tournaments in his record-breaking 1945 season. So two in a row should be no sweat, right, Martin Kaymer?
Kaymer, fresh off winning The Players last week, can’t fathom Nelson’s run.
“Well it was a different time,” he said. “Now to win 11, of course, it’s possible, but it’s not possible. . . . If you’ve won two in a row you’ve done really well.”
Tiger Woods is the last to win two straight starts, at the WGC-Cadillac Championships and the Arnold Palmer Invitational in 2013, while Rory McIlroy is the last two win two weeks in a row, at the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship in 2012.
Kaymer is positioned to follow in McIlroy’s footsteps after a second straight 3-under 67. But can he keep the momentum going and avoid fatigue? After the round, he noted his energy tank was nearing empty, but nothing some sleep and a good meal can’t fix.
“Tomorrow morning it will be full again,” he said.
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4. WEIR MEETS THE PRESS: Mike Weir sat down to answer questions from the gathered scribblers after his morning round and kicked things off with some self-deprecating humor. “So this is what the media center looks like,” he said. “I’d forgotten.”
No, Weir didn’t make a wrong turn on the way to the locker room. And yes, it’s been a few years – if not more – Weir confessed, since he last shot a score to merit a trip to the media center.
In recent years, his brand of precision golf, which made him a Masters champion, has abandoned him. He missed the cut in all 14 tournaments he entered in 2012 while fiddling with swing changes and spending time on the disabled list. Weir said he has started to see some positive signs in his game. He fired a 4-under 66 to join the logjam of nine golfers tied for second at the midway point of the tournament.
Weir ranks third this week in strokes gained-putting, a vast improvement over his season-long rank of 107th. Making a few putts made paying a visit to the media center a welcomed engagement.
“Now I’ve got to see if I can handle (being in contention) and get momentum going and play well on the weekend,” Weir said.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Tim Herron shot 70-66 and is T-2 through 36 holes. He needs to finish in a three-way T-7 or better to meet the terms of his major medical extension. . . . With rounds of 70-69, Patrick Cantlay made the cut in his first Tour start since the 2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He has been sidelined since the Web.com Finals with a back injury. . . . Gary Woodland (68-67, T-10) hit 14 greens Thursday and 15 on Friday, second only to 2012 champ Jason Dufner with 20 through two rounds. . . . Eighty-four players made the cut at 1-over 141. Defending champion Sang Moon-Bae (73-74), Brandt Snedeker (69-74), Justin Leonard (73-75), and John Daly (80-73) weren’t among them.