Recap of the day
Straightforward star of the day was Tyler Duncan, who thrashed a brilliant 9-under-par 61 on the Seaside Course to grab the halfway lead on 14-under 128. He heads into the weekend two clear of Sebastian Munoz, who must have fancied his 63 on the same track was pretty special until he hit the clubhouse and viewed the scores, D.J. Trahan, who made 63 on the Plantation Course, and Rhein Gibson, who carded 64 on the Seaside Course. Ricky Barnes (63 on the Plantation) and Fabian Gomez (63 on the Seaside) share fifth on 11-under. Man of the moment Brendon Todd is one blow further back.
Low round of the day: Duncan’s 61
Cut: 4-under 138
Revised outright betting
Duncan 6/1, Simpson 13/2, Munoz 7/1, Trahan 10/1, Todd 12/1, Noren 16/1
Saturday weather forecast
Partly cloudy, with steady temperatures (low 60s) but high humidity (around 80%). Breezes of around 12 mph.
Leaders at 36 holes
Tyler Duncan (61, 128) – He has now gone 36 holes without an error and in R2 he made seven birdies and an eagle-3. He’s landed 28-of-36 greens in regulation and is 100% in Scrambling.
Sebastian Munoz (63, 130) – Extraordinary symmetry in his laps. Both have seen him hit 12-of-14 fairways, 14-of-18 greens and complete 3-of-4 scrambles.
Rhein Gibson (64, 130) – He’s found only 15-of-18 fairways and 28-of-36 greens in regulation, but he averages 1.500 putts per GIR and no-one in the field betters that.
D.J. Trahan (63, 130) – He made one error in round one and none in the second circuit. He landed 17-of-18 greens on Friday and needed just 1.471 putts per GIR.
Fate of the favorites
Webb Simpson (68, 133) – He continued to pile on the birdies (six in round two), but he also lurched to four bogeys. Made only two of five par saves from missed greens.
Billy Horschel (67, 141) – He landed 13-of-14 fairways, 15-of-18 greens in regulation, went 3-for-3 in scrambling, made no bogeys, but just three birdies and it wasn’t enough to rescue Thursday’s 74; missed cut.
Matt Kuchar (69, 141) – An improvement on Thursday’s bogey count, but it could hardly be anything else (one instead of five). However, the birdie tally was also down (two against five) so he missed the cut despite missing just three of 28 fairways.
Charles Howell III (72, 140) – As on Thursday he was error-strewn. Six birdies and four bogeys in R1, five bogeys and five bogeys in R2. An early end to his defense.
Tyler Duncan (61): "One of the things I've really tried to focus on the last couple months is really focus on what I'm doing at that moment. So I think that practice the last few months, even though it hasn't paid off (yet), will help this weekend, for sure."
Brendon Todd (66): "I'm just going out there and playing my game, which all of a sudden is fairways and greens and holing a lot of putts."
D.J. Trahan (63): "I maximized pretty much everything I could out of the round today. I played really solid and I hit a lot of shots really close and had some tap-ins today, probably four or five of them. I've started to get my ball-striking back."
Road to victory at Sea Island
2018 Charles Howell III – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2017 Austin Cook – R1: 8th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2016 Mackenzie Hughes – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2015 Kevin Kisner – R1: 4th, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
2014 Robert Streb – R1: 48th, R2: 10th, R3: 12th
Notes: In all, six of nine eventual winners were T3 or better at this stage, but there is hope for those further down the current pecking order. Robert Streb (2014) was T10, and Tommy Gainey (2012) was T30 at halfway.
Fate of the halfway leaders at Sea Island – where did they finish?
2018 Charles Howell III 1st
2017 Austin Cook 1st
2016 Mackenzie Hughes 1st
2015 Kevin Chappell 2nd
2014 Russell Henley 4th
Notes: In recent year the 36-hole leaders have a supreme record, going 3-for-3. It’s an odd fact that in the nine renewals of this event there has always been a solo halfway leader and those most recent three are the only ones to retain the lead after 54 holes. Chris Kirk in 2013 slipped into a tie for the third round lead before pressing on for the victory.
Focus on – Tyler Duncan
At PGA Tour level the 30-year-old’s current position is something of a rarity. He’s once led, at the 2017 Safeway Open, by one shot, and was once in second, at the 2019 Byron Nelson Championship. Both times he: a) failed to break 70 in round three, and b) finished T5. On the PGA, Korn Ferry and LatinoAmerica Tours he’s had five solo or shared 36-hole leads and is yet to complete a win from such a position.
Focus on – D.J. Trahan
The 38-year-old Georgian has a soft spot for this track. In 2011 and 2012 he was never outside the top 20 all week in finishing T11 and T4. He didn’t return until 2016 when hitting a rusty round one 77 and a Friday 69 couldn’t rescue the situation, but it was a reminder that he liked the test. Now he sits ready to pounce at the weekend and he’s been running into form. After a missed cut in the Sandersons Farms Championship he was T45 in the Houston Open and then T24 in the Bermuda Championship.
Focus on – Brendon Todd
We talked about him after round one, but he posted a second 66 of the week to slide into T7, just three shots back of the lead as he chases a remarkable third win in three weeks. In other words, he’s very hard not to talk about. His start previous to this magical run saw him finish T28 at the Houston Open, carding 76-67-74-66. In his two wins he has gone 68-63-67-62 then 63-68-65-68. So, if we overlook par (for the sake of simplicity), his score average over the last 13 laps is 66.38. What did he average in the 13 laps before that? 72.07. That’s a difference of 22.76 shots per four rounds.