Three’s a crowd at Quicken Loans National

Quicken Loans National Coverage Presented by the TriState PGA.com.

 

Potomac, MD — After some record-setting first rounds at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, the course still had some low rounds, but bit back for some of the leaders.

Beau Hossler was unaffected going out in the morning and firing a 4-under par round of 66 and now co-leads the Quicken Loans National with Ryan Armour and Brian Gay after Friday’s play.

“I’ve had a lot of really good rounds,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’ve had some kind of high ones that are uncharacteristic for me. I think that was six in a row in the 60’s, so I’m feeling good, my game feels really good. I’m getting it in play nicely off the tee and I’m rolling the putter really well so that obviously helps.”

This is Hossler’s third time leading or co-leading halfway through the tournament with the other two coming this year at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Houston Open.

Armour ranks second on the PGA TOUR in driving accuracy percentage and fired a bogey-free 5-under par round of 65.

“18 was huge for me because I drove it in the left fairway bunker again and then had to wedge it out, and then wedged it up to a couple inches to again keep that momentum going,” he said.

Armour has made one bogey thus far and a win this week makes him the seventh multiple winner this season after his October victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Gay is a four-time PGA TOUR winner and fired a 6-under par 64 Friday. While he was unable to hole putts Thursday, his short game kept the round going a day later.

“It’s been pretty good the last month or two,” said Gay. “I got up there in contention in Dallas and Memphis and had a good U.S. Open. Putting’s my strong suit and my putting’s been down, which has killed me on weeks when I’ve hit it good. I’ve had the odd good putting day, I usually have the odd bad putting day, so it was nice to get a little move today.”

Gay has previously led or co-lead at the 2001 Zurich Classic of New Orleans, 2009 RBC Heritage and 2009 FedEx St. Jude Classic, the latter two he won.

Francesco Molinari hit all 18 greens in regulation for the second time in his PGA TOUR career with the first coming in the second round of the 2010 PLAYERS Championship. He is currently one stroke off the lead.

Molinari has experienced past success in this event tying for eighth place in 2016.

“I didn’t even realize I hit all greens, but it was very good, very solid,” Molinari said. “Obviously I managed to stay in the moment very well. It was a very solid round of golf and hopefully more to come on the weekend.”

Also a shot behind the leaders is Billy Horschel who fired a 2-under par round of 68 and has hit 32-of-36 greens thus far.

“I’m in a good spot,” said Horschel. “I feel like my game is where it needs to be. It’s the best it’s been in a long time and I’m excited about it. I know I can rely on all aspects of my game right now, so we’ll just go out there and not change anything. We’ll go out there and try to be aggressive, try to win the golf tournament.”

First round co-leaders Andrew Landry and J.J. Spaun fell back to the field with the former four shots behind the lead and the latter Spaun five.

Woods shoot back into contention

The roars were plenty for Tiger Woods Friday as he tied for his lowest round of the season with a 65, which now puts him at 5-under par at Quicken Loans National.

“Overall, I just thought that something in the mid-to-high 60’s would have been a good score and I was able to shoot that,” Woods said.

As Woods was prepared to make the turn, he needed to bounce back from a three-putt bogey on the par-3 17th hole and found momentum holing a 30-foot chip which also energized the gallery.

“I was hitting that shot in the practice round and it’s exactly the same shot and it was pretty sweet because I was just trying to hit kind of a high-cut spinner in there and it worked out perfectly,” said Woods.

Woods then moved onto his second nine and consistently hit fairways while effectively hitting his irons which presented several birdie looks.

After ranking 92nd in Strokes Gained: Putting Thursday, he was able to place eighth with a +2.041 output Friday draining 104.4 feet of putts.

“I hit a lot of good putts that were starting on line and with the right speed and I was able to start seeing my line, which is nice,” Woods said. “As I said, I wasn’t disappointed the way I putted yesterday and this is just a continuation of it. Today, the same thing, I felt like I could see the lines, ball starting on my line and they went in.

Woods came into the week 156th in second round scoring and often has had to battle to make the cut and rally on the weekend. This time, Woods is right in contention, four shots behind the lead.

“I’m in a similar position to where I was at Valspar,” said Woods. “The scores aren’t going to be that low and it’s going to be a tough weekend. It’s going to be hot, it’s going to be long grinds. It will be hotter than now, which is scary. It will be over 100 degrees and it will be a long weekend mentally and physically. I’m in a good position right now.”

Quicken Loans National leaderboard

T1. Beau Hossler -9

T1. Ryan Armour -9

T1. Brian Gay -9

T4. Francesco Molinari -8

T4. Billy Horschel -8

6. Zac Blair -7

T7. John Huh -6

T7. Mark Leishman -6

T7. C.T. Pan -6

T7. Kevin Streelman -6

Odds and ends

One after the Quicken Loans National scoring record in rounds played at TPC Potomac was set, Kevin Streelman fired an 8-under par round of 62 to best the mark set by Andrew Landry and J.J. Spaun, breaking it once more.

“I literally had probably the worst warmup of my PGA TOUR career today, which it’s such a funny game,” he said. “I wasn’t too confident walking to the tee, but laced one down 10, hit a 5-wood about 20 feet, then got horseshoed for an eagle. So from there it was just off to the races. It was pretty close to a flawless round.”

Streelman admitted that he was feeling it from all ends as one of his best friends is from Carnoustie and told him he had to make it to The Open Championship, something he has the potential to do if he finishes in the top-12. He also got a text from Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester sent him a text telling him to “get my head out of my butt.”

“Sometimes it clicks,” said Streelman. “I just hit it pretty much perfectly out there today, just kept it beneath holes where I wanted to, attacked pins I wanted to, played smart on some pins I wanted to, and just had real control of the golf ball today. My only simple swing thought was just kind of stay tall and let it fall into a lot of space.”

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Players and caddies all wore orange ribbons on their hats Friday to pay tribute to Katie Enloe who is battling accute myeloid lymphoma. According to a PGATOUR.com article, doctors advised Enloe to return home Friday and spend her last days at home. Enloe’s husband is current SMU golf coach and two-time Web.com TOUR winner Jason Enloe. Hunter Mahan is a brother-in-law to the Enloe family.

“I’ve known Hunter probably about a year now,” Hossler said. “Obviously I know Jason Enloe as well, I play golf at Trinity Forest as my home course in Dallas. Obviously it’s a really, really unfortunate tragic situation and I wish them the best. There’s not much you can say, but wish them peace right now and hopefully, like I said, it’s a peaceful time for them.”

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Zac Blair was told during his Monday pro-am by a golfer in his group that he was a really good putter but to try less. After two rounds, Blair is at 7-under par.

“I kind of made the putts that I needed to make and kept it in play most of the day and just kind had that one bad shot coming into 18, but other than that it was pretty solid,” he said.

Normally TPC Potomac requires you to hit the fairway, but Blair hit 6-of-14 fairways Thursday and in round two slightly improved to a 7-of-14 clip.

“Even the holes that I did hit it in the rough, I got lucky, got a good lie,” said Blair. “You just really got to kind of take advantage of the holes you do get it in play and you have those good numbers. I putted pretty well the first two days. They said I made over 100 feet of putts both rounds, so that always helps.”

One of those putts came from long range on the par-3 12th hole. Blair admitted he hit it too hard and thought it would roll off the front of the green, instead dropping into the hole.

Blair also discussed his growing shoe collection which has some golf ties but mostly is basketball related. His motivation came from Michael Jordan and whether it is eBay, places at various TOUR stops or other means.

“I kind of get a little bit of everything, nothing too specific but my biggest purchase is more than I would like to admit,” Blair said.

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Doc Redman made his first PGA TOUR cut since turning professional and after two rounds is 1-under par.

“I wish I had a few putts back, to be a little lower, but I’m just happy to have two more days to go out there and try to play my best,” he said. “Everyone’s been really nice out here to me. I didn’t really expect that. Other than that, the golf’s very challenging. There’s a very fine line, which I probably didn’t expect. I’m only a few strokes out of top-25 right now. A little thing here and there that I got get accustomed to.”

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As Bill Haas prepared to take his second shot on the par-3 ninth hole Friday, he could not help but project his own weekend future to caddie John Burke.

“I have been grinding it out all day and I am going to make four here and miss the cut by one,” Haas said.

Haas had been hitting the ball all around the course playing beside Marc Leishman and Tiger Woods and just two holes prior overcame a ruling which did not end in his favor as he tried to get relief from a seam on his par-4 seventh hole drive. He stuck his shot close on the green and made the birdie putt.

As predicted, Haas did make four on the ninth hole, his last of the day, but did make the cut on the number at+!.

Haas joined 73 other golfers to make the cut. Among those who made the cut were J.B. Holmes, Billy Hurley III and Geoff Ogilvy.

Montgomery Country, MD has warned anyone attending Quicken Loans National this weekend to stay hydrated as temperatures will exceed 90 degrees and the humidity also being high. Attendees are allowed to bring unopened and empty water bottles and now two bottled waters will be sold for the price of one. There is currently an air quality alert in place until midnight Sunday… This is the second most players leading after 36 holes at the Quicken Loans National with the most being four in 2014, a tournament won by Justin Rose in a playoff over Shawn Stefani… Once again the par-4 11th hole played toughest and par-4 14th easiest with the former averaging 4.333 and the latter 3.600. There were nine bogey-free rounds Friday with Kevin Streelman (62), John Huh (64), Sung Kang (64), Francesco Molinari (65), Ryan Armour (65), Rickie Fowler (66), Charles Howell III (67), Joaquin Niemann (67) and Adam Schenk (67).

Chris Pohl also contributed to this article

Author: Zac Weiss