(REUTERS) – Xander Schauffele tied for Friday’s (June 24) low round with his second consecutive seven-under-par 63 to storm ahead by five strokes at the midway point of the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Schauffele has started the tournament as the only golfer without a bogey on back-to-back days, firing seven birdies in both the first and second rounds at TPC River Highlands. His 126 thus far marks a PGA career best through 36 holes, and his five-stroke lead is the largest at the event in nearly four decades.
Even with low scores abundant after two days, Schauffele at 14 under is the lone player in double digits below par. A group of five are knotted in second place at nine under, including Kevin Kisner (64), Nick Hardy (64), Harris English (65), Patrick Cantlay (67) and Australian Cam Davis (66).
An indicator of the stiff scoring competition was the nine-way tie for seventh at eight under, which included both first-day leaders who each shot 70 on Friday, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and J.T. Poston.
Schauffele, who posted consecutive birdies only once on Friday – on holes No. 2 and 3, both par-fours, was steady all day. The 28-year-old California native has hit 33 of 36 greens in two days.
In his quest for his sixth PGA Tour victory, and first individual win since the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions, Schauffele was careful not to get too comfortable with his advantage.
“Yeah, it’s only Friday. We’ve got 36 more holes and I need to stay aggressive,” Schauffele said.
“This is a course that’s giving up some birdies and, if you’re leading the pack and you get kind of comfortable, people are going to hunt you down.”
McIlroy’s second round fell apart on the back nine. After a birdie on No. 11 put him at five under for the day and -13 for the tournament, he carded a disastrous eight on the par-four 12th before a double-bogey on No. 15.
The quadruple bogey on No. 12 marked just the sixth of McIlroy’s career.
“Yeah, it’s golf sometimes I think. Yeah, I mean, it sort of came out of the blue,” McIlroy said.
“I haven’t made a big number like that or couple big numbers like that in a long time. You know, when you hit a tee shot like on 12, the first one, the second one is pretty difficult, you know, and you’re sort guarding against the left one and I missed it right.”
Among those to miss the two-under cutline were Jordan Spieth, who shot a 66 on Friday but missed the cut by one stroke, Sam Burns (70 for second straight day), and Rickie Fowler (71, three over for tournament).