Golf

Golf Roundup: Bryson DeChambeau shoots career-best 64 to take RBC Heritage Classic lead

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Bryson DeChambeau shot a career-best 7-under 64 on Friday to take the lead into the weekend at the RBC Heritage Classic.

DeChambeau’s first event as a pro was at Harbour Town Golf Links in 2016. Two years later, he posted his lowest ever on the PGA Tour to get to 10-under 132, one ahead of red-hot Ian Poulter and Si Woo Kim.

Poulter showed he’s not done playing high-level golf with a bogey-free 64. Kim, The Players Championship winner, had a 65 that included a two-shot penalty for touching sand after a bunker shot.

Two shots behind DeChambeau were Chasson Hadley (68), past RBC Heritage winner Brandt Snedeker (64), Luke List (64) and first-round leader Rory Sabbatini (70).

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson shot a second straight 69 and was tied for 26th, six shots off the lead.

DeChambeau, 24, jump started his round with an eagle on the par-5 and took over the lead with birdies on the 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th holes. He made a knee-knocking, 12-footer for par on the 18th hole after his approach landed in a front-side bunker. DeChambeau pumped his fist when the ball curled in, as pleased with his improved putting as his composure at rallying late to the lead.

“Two years, it’s time,” DeChambeau said.

He won for the first time on tour last summer, shooting a pair of 65s on the way to taking the John Deere Classic. He’s had three top 10s this season, including a second last month at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. DeChambeau’s certain his play at Harbour Town is simply the next step in his progress to the top.

“I’m figuring out a lot of great things that are helping me on the golf course,” he said.

Poulter’s learned plenty the past few weeks. He was the talk of golf two weeks back with his stunning playoff win at Houston Open where he made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff, then beat Beau Hossler on the first extra hole to gain entrance to Augusta National.

After an opening 69 at Harbour Town, Poulter put on a dazzling second-round, bogey-free display.

Poulter briefly took the lead alone with a 16-foot birdie on the par-3 seventh. He had a chance to reach 10-under, but lipped out an 8-footer on his final hole, the ninth. Poulter has shot five sub-70 rounds in his last six times around Harbour Town.

Poulter said his Houston victory wiped away any concerns holding him back. “The win helps a lot,” he said. “I can free myself up in my mind. I can start attacking pins and just play free golf. And when you’re in that position, sometimes the game feels easy when sometimes it isn’t.”

Even more remarkable than Poulter’s play may have been Kim’s scoring. He posted nine birdies along with a triple-bogey 6 on the par-3 14th where he was assessed a two-stroke penalty for touching the sand when he scrubbed the fringe of a bunker following a shot.

Kim quickly erased the error from his mind — and the scorecard — with birdies on the next three holes to regain his lost shots.

“This might be the first time that I’ve played so well with a triple bogey,” Kim said. “But I’m having great feel around the greens and I feel really confident.”

Johnson again played simply and steadily in his first Harbour Town appearance in nine years. His game remains good, his confidence high despite so many golfers between him and the lead. “I feel like I’m playing really solid,” he said. “I’m giving myself some chances and looking forward to the weekend.”

Much of the field thrived in mild, sunny conditions where even the course’s typically difficult closing stretch of No. 16, No. 17 and No. 18 along windy Calibogue Sound played much tamer than a typical round. Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira followed his 73 on Thursday with the lowest round of the tournament so, a 63, on Friday. Michael Kim went from an opening 76 to 66 in the second round. Dru Love, the son of five-time RBC Heritage champion Davis Love III, improved 11 strokes from his first round with his 66 on Friday.

In all, there were 53 rounds in the 60s among the 130 players who competed Friday.

Among those missing the cut were Paul Casey, Marc Leishman and Tyrell Hatton, all ranked among the top 20.

LPGA

KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) — Brooke Henderson kept giving herself chances to run away from the field Friday at the Lotte Championship.

Instead, she had to be satisfied with barely hanging onto the lead.

After two nearly flawless, bogey-free days at windy Ko Olina Golf Club, the 20-year-old Canadian looked all too human in a frustrating third round that saw the wind switch directions.

Then again, so did nearly every other player.

Henderson will take a one-stroke advantage over 2014 Women’s British Open champ Mo Martin, whose eagle on the 13th kept her at even-par for the day, into the final round.

The leader was 3 over on the final three holes, four-putting the 16th for double-bogey. Henderson, who has already won five times on the LPGA Tour, finished with a 1-over 73 left her at 9 under.

She led by five early on the back nine, but 35 putts – she needed just 50 the first two days combined – had her trying to focus on the fact she still led at all.

“I’ve been kind of struggling with my putting all year,” Henderson acknowledged. “The first few rounds I had it going and I felt confident with it; then on the back nine I just kept missing. I just felt like that every single putt and kind of got a little bit down. That’s always a terrible way to be, especially when you’re still leading the tournament.”

Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, who is a year younger than Henderson, had a 68 to climb into a tie for third with third-ranked Inbee Park, two shots back.

Hataoka won the 2016 Japan Women’s Open Championship, becoming the first amateur – and youngest – to win a Japan LPGA major. Friday, she was one of the few to go low at Ko Olina, putting for eagle three times.

“The wind was totally the opposite. It was really confusing,” said Park, who shot 71. “Some holes I was going into the wind I couldn’t really judge the distances. I don’t think I ever played this wind before on this course in five, six years.”

Even top-ranked Shanshan Feng struggled. Her 74 was only her second over-par round of the year. She shares fifth with Lizette Salas, three back of Henderson. Salas, who lost a playoff at Lotte in 2013, shot 70 despite breaking her driver on the second hole.

She called it a “big oops” on Friday the 13th.

“I got a little frustrated for missing a short putt, and then I tossed, quote/unquote, my putter at my bag,” Salas said. “I guess the head landed on the shaft and when I took it out at the next hole, it went (bending noise).”

Daniela Iacobelli and Pernilla Lindberg, fresh off a major victory at the ANA Inspiration, share seventh at 5 under. Qualifier Julieta Granada and second-year player Peiyun Chien, from Taiwan, shot 67 – low round of the day – to join a group of six another shot back.

Jeongeun Lee, a Korean LPGA player here on a sponsor exemption, also shot 67 and is at 4 under. That’s one ahead of Hawaii’s Michelle Wie, whose 69 moved her up 13 spots, to 18th.

After Friday’s frantic finish, who knows how many are in contention Saturday?

“I would’ve liked it (her lead) to be a lot more, but one shot is good,” Henderson said. “I know there are still a ton of really talented players really close behind me, so I’ll have to go out and make a lot of birdies and hopefully it’s my day.”

CHAMPIONS TOUR

DULUTH, Ga. (AP) — Jay Haas nearly shot his age Friday to take the lead into a 36-hole Saturday finish in the PGA Tour Champions’ Mitsubishi Electric Classic.

The 64-year-old Haas birdied the final two holes in breezy conditions at TPC Sugarloaf for a 7-under 65 and a one-stroke lead over Steve Flesch. Bernhard Langer shot 67, and Gene Sauers and Scott Parel followed at 68.

Facing a forecast of 1 1/2 inches of rain overnight Sunday and the threat of lightning Sunday, tournament officials decided to play both the second and third rounds Saturday.

“The guys were saying we’ve got to play 54, so this gives us that opportunity,” Haas said. “It will be a long day. Thankfully, we can get in carts. This is a long walking golf course. I’m pretty whipped today. I didn’t get in the cart today, but I’ll probably be in there a little bit tomorrow.”

Haas won the last of his 18 senior titles at the 2016 Toshiba Classic.

“I had a decent year last year, not what I wanted maybe, and then starting off this year I’ve been pretty poor,” Haas said. “Haven’t been 100 percent physically, but I’m feeling better.”

He birdied all four par-5 holes in a bogey-free round. The nine-time PGA Tour winner birdied four of the first six holes — the par-4 first and third and par-5 fourth and sixth. He added a birdie on the par-5 10th and closed with the birdies on the par-4 17th and par-5 18th.

“I hit the ball well, hit a lot of good iron shots,” Haas said. “I had four or five of them inside 10 feet. My distance control was really good. And I made some really nice putts and didn’t really struggle at all with long putting or anything. … I made a really nice one here at 18. It was a bonus there. Hit a beautiful 5-iron at 17 to about 3 feet.”

Flesh also birdied the final two holes in a bogey-free round.

“I hit it well and made putts,” Flesh said. “With the wind today it was a little confusing at times. I played conservatively where I had to and aggressively on a few holes. Birdied the last two to turn a good day into a great day.”

The four-time PGA Tour winner is winless in 21 senior starts since turning 50 last May. He was looking forward to the 36-hole day.

“Hey, I’d rather play 36 holes than play in rain,” Flesh said. “Some people don’t mind rain. I would take 40 mph wind over any rain. So, I’m glad we’re playing 36 tomorrow.”

Langer started on No. 10 and birdied the first three and five of the first seven. He played the front nine in even par with two birdies and two bogeys. “It was difficult conditions with the breeze, especially last few holes,” Langer said.

The 60-year-old German star is seeking his first victory of the season and 37th on the senior tour.

“It’s going to be tough,” Langer said. “A lot of us are — we’re all old to some extent — and it’s going to be a very long day. This course is very demanding. It’s a lot of hills to walk. My knees were sore just now playing. I hate using carts, but I think I might have to utilize some of the carts to make it around 36 because it’s very demanding — physically demanding.”

EUROPEAN TOUR

MADRID (AP) — Paul Dunne shot a 7-under 65 to take a three-shot lead after the second round of the Spanish Open on Friday.

The Irishman had nine birdies at the Centro Nacional de Golf, moving to 13-under for the tournament. Dunne finished in style with four birdies in his final five holes.

“It’s just one of those days. I went on playing, I wasn’t really thinking about the score,” Dunne said. “Playing early I got the best of the greens so it was a pretty steady day. My game is in good shape, I’m feeling good. I see a lot of birdies around this course if the weather stays like this.”

Nacho Elvira of Spain, Brett Rumford of Australia and Callum Shinkwin of England are in a three-way tie for second at 10-under.

Marc Warren of Scotland, the first-round co-leader with Dunne, dropped four shots back following a 3-under 69.

Local favorite Jon Rahm, coming off a fourth-place finish at the Masters, was also four shots off the lead after carding 68.

Rahm had an eagle on the par-5 first hole but made a double bogey on the par-4 No. 12. He had four birdies on the day.

Defending champion Andrew Johnston of England also shot 68 to finish five shots of the lead.

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