The Upshot: Humana Challenge, Round 2
January 17, 2014
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- Patrick Reed has shot back-to-back 63s and is command at the Humana Challenge. (Getty)
LA QUINTA, Calif. -- Patrick Reed had shot 63 twice in his PGA TOUR career before this week's Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He's shot that number twice in his past two rounds now. He has a two-shot lead halfway through the week at PGA West after those consecutive 9-under-par rounds.
Reed said he struggled with his driver during part of his first round, but felt confidence with the club Friday at La Quinta Country Club.
"When you go over to La Quinta, the fairways are much more narrow than they are here, so you're really focusing on small targets," Reed said. "And I just got off to a good start hitting it, so I built confidence through the first two holes."
Reed is two shots ahead of Brendon Todd, who shot 63 on Friday at the Palmer Private. Ryan Palmer is in third place at 15 under, while former Humana champion Charley Hoffman is another shot back. Palmer is a combined 13 under par on the back nine in his first two rounds after shooting 29 on Thursday and 30 on Friday.
Reed is early in his second season on the PGA TOUR. He won his first title at the Wyndham Championship, the final event before last year's FedExCup Playoffs. He's seeking his second TOUR title in his 46th career TOUR start.
Todd is bogey-free through two rounds. He was medalist at the 2011 Q-School at two of PGA West's other courses, the Nicklaus Tournament and TPC Stadium.
ONE AND DONE: Keegan Bradley recently switched swing coaches to Chuck Cook, who also teaches Bradley’s good friend, Jason Dufner. Bradley was knocking it close in Friday’s 66. He hit his tee shot at the 204 yard, par-3 17th (his eighth hole of the day) at Nicklaus Private to 2 feet, then made his first career hole-in-one at the 180-yard, par-3 3rd. He hit a 7-iron.
“I hit it really good,” Bradley said. “It was right at it, and sure enough, it went in.”
Bradley is T-22 at 9-under 135 (69-66).
A TALE OF TWO NINES: Ryan Palmer shot 59 over 18 holes at the Humana Challenge. No, not in the same round (breaking 60 would have merited higher placement in this piece), but on the back nine in each of his first two rounds.
He shot 7-under 29 on Palmer Private’s back nine Thursday, then fired 6-under 30 on La Quinta Country Club’s front side (his second nine) Friday. He’s a combined 13 under on his back nines, and just 2 under on the front, shooting 1-under 35 each time. He was happy to leave La Quinta Country Club with a 7-under 65. “This course has usually been my nemesis,” Palmer said. “I’ve never been able to shoot a low round. Shooting as well as I did, that’s big for me.”
Palmer will play PGA West’s Nicklaus Private, traditionally the easiest of the three courses in use this week, in Saturday’s third round. Palmer finished sixth at last year’s Humana, and was fourth in 2011.
TRUE COLORS: Michael Putnam, who was born in Tacoma, Wash., is showing his Seahawks spirit this week. He has Seahawks headcovers on his woods and was wearing the team’s colors as part of #BlueFriday, during which Seattle-area business gave discounts to people wearing Seahawks attire. The Seahawks play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in the NFC Championship game. Hopefully Putnam can be paired with Spencer Levin in Sunday’s final round. Levin, a Northern California native, has 49ers headcovers on his bag this week.
FEELING WELCOME AT PGA WEST: Brendon Todd has one top-10 in 65 career TOUR starts (T-9, 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am), but is just two shots off the lead at the Humana’s halfway point. He has some good memories at PGA West. He won the 2011 Q-School about a half-mile down the road at two of PGA West’s other courses, the Nicklaus Tournament and TPC Stadium.
“Just around the greens, I feel really comfortable and consistent out here,” Todd said. “I have a pretty good short game usually, and the rough isn’t too severe out here and the greens roll so good with the overseed, that I feel like I should always be a threat around the greens to chip in or make a long putt.”
Todd regained his card for the 2013-14 season via the Web.com Tour. He won the Stadion Classic at his old college course at the University of Georgia and finished second in the Web.com Tour Championship at TPC Sawgrass. This is his sixth consecutive made cut to start the season. He has four top-30 finishes in his previous five starts and is No. 27 in the FedExCup standings.
Todd is one of three former University of Georgia players in the top 10 after two rounds at the Humana. Reed played one season at Georgia before leading Augusta State to consecutive NCAA Championships. Harris English (T-8) also played for the Bulldogs. The team had a flexible practice schedule, but players were required to keep their games sharp because of the competitive qualifying process just to make the team’s travel lineup.
English remembers shooting around 10 under in qualifying and failing to make the five-man lineup.
“That’s how it goes,” he said.
SHORT SHOTS: Three former Humana champions are T-8 or better. Charley Hoffman, the 2007 champion, is in fourth at 14 under, four behind Reed. Bill Haas, who won four years ago and was runner-up the following year, is another shot back. The 2005 winner, Justin Leonard, is T-8. He had just one top-10 in the 2013 season, but is seeking his second of this season; he finished T-6 at the recent OHL Classic at Mayakoba. … Some big moves were made Friday. Justin Thomas shot 64, 10 shots better than his previous round, to jump 79 spots to T-63; Thomas was at PGA West last month for Q-School, where he earned his Web.com Tour Card. Stewart Cink’s second-round 63 was 10 shots better than his opening round and moved him 95 spots up the leaderboard to T-34. … Brandt Snedeker jumped 79 spots to T-34 after Friday’s 64, which was eight shots better than his opening round. … Four players shot 63 on Friday: Reed (La Quinta), Todd (Palmer Private), Cink (Nicklaus Private) and James Driscoll (La Quinta).