Duncan tops leaderboard after Round 2
October 06, 2017
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Chesson Hadley's extended highlights | Round 2 | Safeway Open
NAPA, Calif. – A rookie leader after 36 holes. The threat of a 59, then the eventual course record. Weezer headlining the post-round concert. It was an eventful second round Friday at the Safeway Open.
TYLER DUNCAN (13 under) – He’s 36 holes into the rookie season of his PGA TOUR career and has the lead at 13 under. “Yeah, it’s crazy,” said Duncan, who ranked 23rd on the Web.com Tour’s top 50 priority list. “Nothing I could have ever dreamed of, for sure.” He’s done it with crisp iron play, some terrific putting – he ranks second this week in strokes gained: putting – and a flatline demeanor.
“I’ve really just stayed calm,” Duncan said after following his opening 65 with a 66 that included one eagle, four birdies, three bogeys and one par on his final nine. “I’m not sure what it is. I’m usually a pretty calm guy, but I figured I’d be nervous and amped up and everything. But I’ve stayed really calm and I’ve had a clear mind the first two rounds.”
Now, of course, comes the weekend. He’s in the final group with defending champ Brendan Steele and Chesson Hadley. Three weeks ago at the Web.com Tour in Boise, Idaho, Duncan had the 36-hole lead but felt the nerves and eventually faded to a T-5 finish. He figures to use that learning experience this weekend as he pursues the improbable Cinderella story.
“My nerves will definitely be ramped up a little bit,” Duncan said. “I learned a lot (from Boise) and I’m looking forward to having another opportunity to get after it.”
BRENDAN STEELE (12 under) – He just keeps rolling along, following his opening 65 with a 5-under 67. For the first time in Steele’s career, short-game instructor Chris Mason is on the bag this week. Steele’s regular caddie, Christian Donald, is at a wedding in England. The temporary switch in caddies obviously hasn’t disrupted his momentum at Silverado.
“Chris has wanted to get on the bag for a little while and just see what I’m doing out there,” Steele said. “He sees me in practice rounds and can walk during tournament rounds, but he doesn’t get to see what’s actually going on between my ears while we’re out there.”
Mason is seeing a lot of good. Steele has missed just two greens through the first two rounds and ranks first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.
CHESSON HADLEY (11 under) – It was around the middle of his back nine that Hadley started thinking about 59. He birdied the 13th hole to go to 8 under on his round, then birdied the next three holes. He arrived at the 17th tee needing two birdies or an eagle (the 18th is a par 5) but parred both holes. The 11-under 61 is his career best and ties the tournament record set on other courses in this event.
“That’s certainly nothing to hang your head about,” said Hadley. “But you don’t get many chances at 59, so I was aware of it and I was certainly trying to do it. But at the same time, you’ve got to be aware you can’t do anything stupid because you’re trying to win a golf tournament.”
Hadley ranked first on the Web.com Tour priority list, having won twice during the recently completed season. He didn’t see this kind of round coming – he opened with an even-par 72 – but he’ll never forget the bid for 59. The last time he had a chance to go that low was an amateur event several years ago.
“It’s just kind of magic out there when you’re doing that,” Hadley said. “These rounds don’t come often and I feel like I made the most of it today.”
PHIL’S BETTER BUT SAME. After hitting just two of 14 fairways in the first round, Phil Mickelson found eight fairways on Friday. But the improved accuracy didn’t lead to a better score, as he shot a second consecutive 69 that leaves him at 6 under. “I expected to score a little bit better, but I had some good chances today,” Mickelson said. “… I let a few opportunities slide.”
He double-bogeyed the 14th after a wayward drive and a missed 5-foot putt for bogey. But he immediately responded with three straight birdies, knocking a couple of approach shots within 10 feet. “I made a few mistakes,” Mickelson said. “Certainly I hit it a lot better but yet I show the same score.”
STREELMAN’S NEW COACH. Kevin Streelman recently switched coaches, and is now using Australian Andrew Getson, who also works with Mickelson. Streelman lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, which is Getson’s home base at Greyhawk. “We’ve been best friends for a long time and I kind of wanted to hold off on that because we’re such good friends,” Streelman said. “I didn’t want to mess with that, but he’s just too knowledgeable and keeps things too simple.”
Streelman comes off a season in which he finished 83rd in FedExCup points, his worst result since 2012. It’s also the first time since then that he’s failed to post at least one top-3 finish. But so far so good this week, as he’s shot 69-68 and is 7 under. “Right now I’ve got a real simple swing thought that’s worked nicely for two days,” Streelman said. “We all know this game can be mean at times, but hopefully it continues for the weekend.”
HAAS HEATS UP. On Thursday, Bill Haas needed 32 putts and ranked 103rd of the 144 players in the field in strokes gained: putting. On Friday, he needed just 25 putts and ranked first in that category. His total feet of putts made went from 65 feet, 4 inches to 169 feet, 4 inches. During a six-hole stretch, he made putts of 34, 23, 32 and 30 feet. No wonder he called his second-round 65 a “fun day.”
“I made probably four putts that I normally don’t make,” said Haas, who’s 7 under going into the weekend. “Making one of those a round is fun, so making three or four of those was a lot of fun today. … Golf would be a lot more fun if you could just putt like that every day.”
EXTREME TEMPS. When the morning wave teed off Friday, the temperatures were in the 40s. By the time they finished, it was in the 80s. That required some adjustments for those with early tee times. Kevin Streelman said the ball wasn’t traveling far on his first nine holes, forcing him to “add a few clubs” until the temperatures heated up. Noted Graham DeLaet, who dealt with the extreme differences on Thursday: “When we teed off yesterday, the ball was going nowhere and you couldn’t compress it, everything was a bit softer. Then in the afternoon you can really hit the ball long.”
JOHN DALY – Birdied his final hole to make the cut on the number. That keeps alive the hope of singing a song with the Goo Goo Dolls at Saturday’s post-round concert.
EMILIANO GRILLO – One of two Presidents Cup players in the field this week (Phil Mickelson is the other), Grillo was at 9 under for the tournament until three-putting his last two holes for bogeys. “Stupid mistakes,” he said before heading to the practice green.
HUNTER MAHAN – After a season in which he missed 16 cuts in 26 starts, Mahan is in the mix this week at 6 under. He missed just one green on Friday and has hit 32 of 36 in the first two rounds.
HAROLD VARNER III – Still seems to be feeling the bounce of his successful scramble to make the FedExCup Playoffs, as he’s at 7 under after his 68 on Friday.
SANGMOON BAE – It’s a short stay for his first PGA TOUR start since his two-year mandatory military service in Korea, as Bae shot a 75 to finish at 4 over and miss the cut.
MAVERICK McNEALY – Was tied for the lead at one point, but suffered a triple bogey late in his round. Still, his first pro start remains a positive one, as he’s 5 under after a 71.
“Yesterday I go out and practice, and Phil’s out there grinding. So he’s won I don’t know how many times on TOUR and he’s working harder than me. That’s not a good sign.” – Harold Varner III when asked about his own improved work routine that’s led to better results recently.
“A little nap sounds good right now … To be able to just hang out in Napa Valley the rest of the afternoon is pretty nice.” – Bill Haas, who started his second round at 7:20 a.m. local time
“Napa’s a special place. I come here once or twice a year outside of the tournament. I love it here and it’s a fun golf course to play.” – Phil Mickelson
Low round: 11-under 61 by Chesson Hadley
Longest drive: Jamie Sadlowski, 366 yards at the 12th hole. Incidentally, Sadlowski also had the next two longest drives -- 362 yards (at the 13th) and 361 yards (at the 14th).
Longest putt: Kevin Tway, 63 feet, 11 inches at hole No. 14
Toughest hole: The 224-yard seventh hole, which played to a stroke average of 3.225.
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