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Lee Hodges takes four-shot lead at 3M Open

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Lee Hodges takes four-shot lead at 3M Open


    Written by The Associated Press

    BLAINE, Minn. -- With the FedExCup Playoffs two weeks away, Lee Hodges can breathe easier. Justin Thomas can't.

    Hodges birdied four of his last six holes for a 7-under 64 and a four-stroke lead over Tyler Duncan on Friday after almost two rounds of the 3M Open.

    A nearly two-hour afternoon weather delay led to play being suspended due to darkness with six players yet to finish -- none within 10 shots of the lead.

    Hodges, the first-round leader and 74th in the FedExCup points race, was at 15-under 127. He was 3 under on the front nine and added a 33-foot birdie putt on No. 13, followed by birdies from 14 feet on No. 14 and 11 feet on No. 17.


    Lee Hodges takes four-shot lead into weekend at 3M Open


    “I’ve got a great attitude out there. Me and my caddie (Andrew Medley), we’re 70-something on the points list, like what do we have to lose, you know?” Hodges said. "We’ve committed to every shot we’ve hit so far, which has been great. We’ll continue to do it, because what do we have to lose."

    A lengthy last-hole putt was not enough to overcome a couple bad holes as Thomas aims to make the FedExCup Playoffs for the eighth straight season. He birdied four of his last five holes to shoot a shot an even-par 71, leaving him 2 under for the tournament and two strokes short.

    Thomas, at No. 75 in the FedExCup standings, has missed five cuts in his last seven starts. The top 70 next week after the Wyndham Championship will advance to the Playoffs. Looking to stay in strong consideration for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, Thomas has just two top-10 finishes in 14 tournaments since mid-February.

    Starting on the back nine, Thomas put two balls in the water on the par-5 18th, falling to 1 under. An errant tee shot and poor chip led to another double bogey on the par-3 fourth, before a strong finishing stretch was punctuated by a 30-foot putt on No. 9.


    Justin Thomas' incredible wedge from the crowd at 3M Open


    “This is a good chance for me to learn a little bit about myself and push myself and become better,” Thomas said before the tournament. “I mean, this game, nothing’s given to you. I’ve had great chances to win the FedExCup the last five or six years and now I’m trying to make the Playoffs. That’s just the way that this sport is. And it can happen to anybody, so you’ve just got to go out and get it.”

    He wasn’t the only player to put untimely dents in possible FedExCup Playoffs plans by missing the cut. No. 70 K.H. Lee (1 under), No. 72 Davis Thompson (2 under) and No. 90 Gary Woodland (3 over) also get the weekend off.

    Duncan, who has missed six cuts in his past eight events and 17 of 27 this season, shot a 67. He has back-to-back bogey-free rounds.

    “You never know when it’s coming, but I’ve been putting in the work and you always hope it shows up,” Duncan said. “But it doesn’t always show up when you want it to."

    Defending champion Tony Finau (66), J.T. Poston (66), Brandt Snedeker (68) and Kevin Streelman (68) were 10 under.


    Tony Finau’s Round 2 highlights from 3M Open


    With one top-10 in 25 starts this season, Streelman is in a rare position.

    “I haven’t been in the final groups in a while on a Saturday, so looking forward to that. At my age I don’t have much to lose, so go out and have some fun this weekend,” the 44-year-old Streelman said.

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