5 Things: Barely challenged, Bradley coasts in Texas
Friday, May 17, 2013
Keegan Bradley began and ended his day with a three-shot lead Friday at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Behind him, the names changed somewhat, while plenty of notables spent their day wondering about the cut line – including John Daly.
Here are 5 Things to know about Friday’s second round in Irving, Texas:
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1. Bradley Stays Steady
Without much of a challenge Friday, Keegan Bradley ambled his way to a 1-under 69 and maintained his three-shot lead at TPC Four Seasons Resort. A couple of times, his lead narrowed to a stroke but it didn't stay that way for long.
Lacking his A-game, Bradley scattered four birdies and three bogeys throughout his round – a far cry from his 12 birdies and two bogeys a day earlier.
"I'm almost more proud of this round than yesterday because I didn't feel comfortable all day," he said. "I don't know what it was, I can't put my finger on it but, you know, I bogeyed the first hole. I was a little uncomfortable and then I settled in and hit some really good shots."
Part of the reason: He only hit half his fairways. And his average distance to the pin was a lackluster 33 feet.
As Bradley chases a win, he's got some history on his side. He has taken the second-round lead to victory, that coming in his 2011 PGA Championship win. And at the Byron Nelson, six players since 2000 have led after two rounds and won, including Jason Dufner last year.
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2. Daly Makes Weekend Plans
Through 11 holes today, John Daly was 1 over and teetering around the cut line. Not an unusual position for a player who divides his time between the PGA and Web.com tours, truth be told.
Daly then birdied four of his final seven holes to finish 3 under and secure his plans for Saturday.
At eight shots back of Bradley, Daly isn’t likely to earn his first Tour win since the 2004 Buick Invitational.
Daly’s accomplishments on the two tours are mighty similar. He stands 210th in PGA Tour earnings and 194th in Web.com Tour earnings. His best PGA Tour finish is T-50 at the Puerto Rico Open; Web.com Tour, T-53 at the South Georgia Classic. He averages 297.8 yards driving on the PGA Tour, 301.8 on Web.com Tour. And he’s reaching 64.6 percent of greens in regulation on the PGA Tour, 63.5 on Web.com Tour.
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3. Gillis Gets Close
Tom Gillis pushed his way near the top of the leaderboard with a 63 Friday, carding a 30 for his first nine and avoiding bogey until the last hole of the day at No. 9.
Gillis drove the ball longer and straighter in the second round, which led to more greens in regulation as well. He hit 12 of 14 fairways and averaged 296 yards off the tee Friday while hitting 13 greens.
To cap it off, he topped the field in strokes gained putting at 5.432 for the round.
Three straight birdies on Nos. 12-14 got him 3 under through five holes and set the tone for his standout day. Part of the reason for his success: A recent reunion with swing coach Jeff Leishman.
"I stepped with a way for a couple of months and tried to do some things on my own and kind of got lost," Gillis said before explaining their separation. "We had disagreements on some things. . . . You talk things out, work things out. People change.
"I think he was right all along, to be honest with you."
He also appreciated his morning tee time.
"It was easier, I think the wind was down and I was hoping that we would get a fair shot like they had (Thursday) morning just to see what it would be like," Gillis said. "Definitely, I thought it played better than in the afternoon."
Gillis, 44, is in position to pursue his first PGA Tour victory, his best finish a T-2 at the 2012 Honda Classic. His most recent Web.com Tour win was in 2009 at the Players Cup. One parallel in his favor: Gillis missed five straight cuts coming into the Byron Nelson – as did Derek Ernst before he finished T-47 in New Orleans and won the Wells Fargo Championship.
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4. Guan’s First Missed Cut
At the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Tianlang Guan rallied with a second-round 69 to make the cut, but no such push was to be found Friday in Irving. Starting the day at even, Guan was undone by a double bogey at No. 12, his third hole of the day, and five straight bogeys to close out the nine.
Guan hit just 10 greens Friday, and the ability to scramble that he showed at Augusta National and in New Orleans eluded him.
"Last couple of holes on the first nine I think I didn't play bad, just got in the wind and I got some bad luck. But that's golf," he said.
His play improved after making the turn and he cited his ability to hit the ball to safe spots.
"I just think I learned a lot in these two rounds and just didn't play my best out there today, and I still learned a lot," Guan said. "Still have a lot more to learn.
"This is a good tour event, it won't be that easy and I won't make the cut every time."
Guan would not confirm his plans but is expected to play a U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Texas early next month.
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5. Short Shots
Robert Karlsson came to the course T-3 at 6 under, his T-4 finish at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago lending reason for optimism. His fortunes turned dramatically, however, as Karlsson shot 78 to miss the cut by xx strokes. . . . Defending champion Jason Dufner barely made the cut at even par, as did 2010 champ Jason Day, 2009 champ Rory Sabbatini, 2005 champ Ted Purdy and 2003 champ Jesper Parnevik. They’ll add luster to the early tee times Saturday. . . . 2003 champ Vijay Singh, who missed his second straight cut at the Players Championship after filing suit against the PGA Tour, shot 67 Friday to get to 2 under and ensure he’d play the weekend. . . . A 54-hole cut will further reduce the field from the 83 who made the cut to low-70 and ties.
– The Associated Press contributed