Recap of the day
Morning wave: More low scoring. In fact, Nate Lashley, the hero of day one with a 63 and an afternoon starter, made his way to his first tee shot with no less than 12 players ahead of him from the morning wave. Cameron Champ starred, thrashing a 7-under-par 65 to claim the clubhouse lead on 13-under 131. Ryan Armour took lunch two swings back on 11-under after a 69 and then Peter Malnati (66), Byeong Hun An (66) and Rory Sabbatini (69) sat at 10-under. Seven players reached 9-under.
Afternoon wave: Lashley was apparently unfazed by the early movers and duly swept on by them with a 67 to regain the lead at 14-under 130. Charles Howell II added a 67 of his own to land solo third on 12-under. But the biggest move came from J.T. Poston who blitzed a 63 to join Armour on 11-under.
Low round of the day: Poston’s 63
Cut: 4-under 140
Revised outright betting: Champ 11/2, Howell III 7/1, Lashley 15/2, Matsuyama 11/1, An 16/1, Niemann 16/1, Poston 20/1, Fowler 20/1
Saturday weather forecast
Bad news because rain is a probability and morning thunderstorms are a possibility. Very little wind (7mph) and temperatures in the mid-70s.
Leaders at 36 holes
Nate Lashley (67, 130) – Was level-par through five holes, but stayed calm and reasserted himself. Ranks top ten for SG: Around the Green, Putting and Tee to Green.
Cameron Champ (63, 131) – Completed a thrilling surge to the turn with six birdies and an eagle, before cooling down and coming home in 1-over. Has gained over five strokes against the field on the greens.
Charles Howell III (67, 132) – Made his greatest gains on the field, also over five, tee to green. Twice went birdie-eagle in round one, added a hat trick and back-to-back birdies in round two.
Fate of the favorites
Dustin Johnson (71, 142) – Once again the field went low and DJ got stuck. In fact, he’ll get the weekend off. He did thrash four birdies in four holes on his first nine, but could not atone for five bogeys.
Rickie Fowler (68, 136) – Missed five greens in regulation, but successfully scrambled every time. A limping long game (outside the top 100 for Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation).
Gary Woodland (69, 142) – Made only seven pars in his first round as reigning U.S. Open champion and just the five in his second. 13 birdies in 36 holes is normally not bad going, but 11 bogeys in that sort of stretch will always hurt.
Hideki Matsuyama (67, 135) – A bogey-free lap, but a curious one because he didn’t rank top ten for any Strokes Gained category.
Cameron Champ (65) – “The front nine was about as big as the hole’s probably ever looked for me. Just everything went together. It’s kind of hard to explain. I mean, a run like that you kind of just go with it. On this course you can make up shots (on the field), just kind of going in quick spurts here or there.”
Gary Woodland (69) – “I’ve got some work to do, just tighten some things up. I wasn’t prepared as much as I probably should have been this week, but two weeks off, I’ll have plenty of time and I’ll be ready to go at Portrush.”
Dustin Johnson (71) – “It just seemed like every time I hit a bad shot, it was in the wrong spot and made bogey. My good shots were really good, just the bad ones, every time I made bogey. So they weren’t far off.”
Focus on – Cameron Champ
It’s been quite the season for the big-hitting 24-year-old who debuted back in early October with T25 and then hit his straps. It was not only that he won on his very next start (the Sanderson Farms Championship), but he completed six straight top 30s during which he was in the top ten at the end of a round no less than 14 times. Then, after the Tournament of Champions, it all turned sour. Since then he is just 4-for-14 with one top 50 finish (T28 in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am). No surprise, then, that this week’s 66-65 opening has put a smile on his face. “It's definitely been a rough month-and-a-half, two months for me,” he said. “But I've been working hard. So to kind of see it slowly pay off is good.”
Focus on – Doc Redman
It has been a superb month for the 21-year-old from Raleigh, N.C. He started it by claiming second on the MacKenzie Tour having led by two after 54 holes and added another two solid efforts to find himself sixth in the circuit’s rankings. Then he made his way to The Orchards G.C. (via a red-eye from Seattle) for this week’s Monday qualifier and promptly thrashed a 10-under-par 62 that included seven birdies, two eagles and a three-putt bogey. Now he has added laps of 68-67 to sit in a tidy position in just his seventh PGA Tour start. He’ll spend the weekend aiming to improve on a career best of T18 at this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.