Las Vegas, Nev. –Peter Uihlein has never won on the PGA TOUR but this weekend has opened up a two-stroke lead over Robert Streb and Whee Kim at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
With the course providing little in the way of windFriday, scoring opportunities have been plentiful.
“I just like it,” Uihlein said. “There’s a lot of holes that set up well for me. A lot of just good sightlines with some good bunker placements. My distance control with my irons has been very good this week, so I’ve been able to have a kind of more stress-free two days.”
Uihlein had never led a PGA TOUR round prior to Thursday when he shot an 8-under par 63 to lead Seth Reeves by one shot. He is using a new neck to his Sky putter.
“I hadn’t been putting great the first few weeks of the season,” said Uihlein. “It’s just nice that I put in a lot of work last week for a few days and switched putters, so it’s nice to kind of see that hard work kind of pay off this quickly, I wasn’t really expecting it.”
Streb finished 178th in the FedExCup standings and played the Web.com Tour Playoffs where he won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship and placed sixth in those overall standings.
His 36-hole total of 131 ties a career-low set at the 2016 PGA Championship.
“I just I feel like I’m actually going the right way now, so just trying to keep improving little by little and usually the results will follow,” he said.
Kim’s success in this event does not come as much of a surprise given that he lost a playoff here a season ago to Patrick Cantlay. If Kim were to win this event after losing in a playoff the year prior, he would be the first since Ryuji Imada accomplished the feat at the 2008 AT&T Classic.
Abraham Ancer is tied for fourth despite setting his best 36-hole total by one shot.
Last season, Ancer finished 60th in FedExCup points making 20 cuts over the course of his 30 starts. He led after three rounds of play at the Dell Technologies Championship, tied for fourth at the Quicken Loans National and placed fifth at the RBC Canadian Open.
In order to move up the leaderboard, Ancer will have to keep up, if not exceed his current pace.
“I think I played really solid the whole past season,” said Ancer. “Try to get better obviously and then just try to carry on and do what I’ve been doing this past year. I have really nothing to lose. If you really start thinking too much of win or whatever, just more added pressure you don’t really need. Just take it one shot at a time. I felt like I maybe put a little bit too much pressure in the chances when I had last season, and I am just going to try to do the same thing I did today and yesterday.”
Bryson DeChambeau is 9-under par on the back-nine today, it is his second-lowest such 18 hole total on the back side with the first coming at the 2017 John Deere Classic.
An incident occurred at the par-5 16th hole when he missed a birdie putt and a fan remarked “maybe you should have left the flag in”, a reference to Thursday’s news that he planned to do that at most TOUR events next season.
DeChambeau looked at the offending party, made his par putt and afterwards asked the marshal to eject the patron off the premises.
Distraction aside, DeChambeau drained a 13-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole and missed a short birdie putt on the last to shot a 5-under 66 and is currently tied for fourth place, a position where Harold Varner III also sits.
The second round was completed at 8:33 PDT Saturday morning with five golfers needing to complete their respective rounds.
Kyle Jones, who had a birdie putt on his final hole to make the cut, came back and converted allowing him to play the weekend.
Due to an early West Coast finish, the 74 golfers that made the cut will play off split tees between 9-11:15 PDT.
Champ finding early success on PGA TOUR
Cameron Champ is tied for eighth place at 8-under par, strengthened by birdies on holes 12-16, his longest such streak.
“Coming down the backside just kind of slowed down a little bit,” Champ said. “I made a very lucky birdie on 12 that kind of got me going on that five-birdie stretch. It was just great to finish the day like that.”
Champ’s length off the tee has been highly touted, even to the point that Backstreet Boys singer Brian Littrell could not hide his amazement when following Thursday’s first round.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 1, 2018
Still Champ was wild off the tee hitting 5 of 14 total fairways and admitted to getting quick with his swing. Despite this, Champ was able to finish with a 6-under par round of 65, one of the lowest on the course Friday.
“I know I’ve been putting well, the mid-irons have been good,” he said. “I was kind of shaky on the front side with my woods, I hit 2-iron, 3-wood and driver so I just had to slow things down.”
Champ won last week’s Sanderson Farms Championship and since then the new task has been on calming down and not fixating on outside expectations.
“That’s a huge thing I talked with my team about, blurring everything else out and focusing on the task at hand, which I think I’ve done pretty well,” said Champ. “The first round was pretty shaky on the front side, it was a new experience, a new position for me.”
Despite the win, things are still fresh out on TOUR for Champ.
“10 months ago I was still in school and made it through the Web and now I have three years out here, it’s pretty amazing,” Champ said.
Perry back on TOUR
With the PGA TOUR Champions having a week off before the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Arizona, Kenny Perry made his return to the junior circuit for the first time since the U.S. Open.
In speaking at the Memorial Tournament, Perry was using a venue in which he won three times to help prepare for the U.S. Open and his recovery from shoulder surgery.
Upon returning to the Champions Tour, Perry won the 3M Championship by three shots over Wes Short Jr.
Assessing his year, Perry was very upbeat.
“Fantastic to tell you the truth,” he said. “I am at a point in my career when you take six months off and have shoulder surgery, coming back here I am at age 58 you wonder if you can even hit it again, let alone be competitive. I came back and won on the Champions Tour and I’m 16th in points going into next week. I can’t win the cup but playing half a year and finishing 16th, I think the year has been very successful.”
Perry was able to use a one-time one-year exemption for being top-50 on the all-time money list. This enables him to play in any event of his choosing outside of majors and World Golf Championships, though he certainly will not abuse the privilege.
“You’ll only see me here or there, I mostly will play on the Champions Tour,” said Perry. “I’ll play more out here, you’ll see me more. I got a kick playing with these kids this week, I’ve had a ball.”
That list certainly include the Memorial Tournament and playing at Colonial based on past success. The RBC Heritage is also a possibility and Perry plans on teaming with Josh Teater in New Orleans for the Zurich Classic.
In total, Perry guesstimates he will play 8-10 events.
“I never thought I would use (this exemption) to tell you the truth,” Perry said. “It just worked out to where I thought it would be viable to use it, see the guys and see how golf is supposed to be played again.”
Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Second Round Leaderboard
1. Peter Uihlein -13
T2. Whee Kim -11
T2. Robert Streb -11
T4. Abraham Ancer -10
T4. Bryson DeChambeau -10
T4. Harold Varner III -10
7. Kevin Tway -9
T8. Cameron Champ -8
T8. Danny Lee -8
T8. Jordan Spieth -8
Photo credit: Chris Pohl/DYSTGolf.com