World No. 7 Bryson DeChambeau survived a double bogey en route to posting the low score of the tournament through two rounds Friday at the Hero World Challenge.
The 28-year-old DeChambeau fired an 8-under 64 to move to 11-under 133 at Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas, rebounding from an opening round of 69 and taking a one-shot lead at the Tiger Woods-hosted event over world No. 2 Collin Morikawa (66), No. 13 Tony Finau (66) and No. 16 Brooks Koepka (67).
The eight-time Tour winner got off to a solid start with a birdie at the first and carded three more before making the turn. DeChambeau proceeded to reel off five more over his first six holes on the back before the “hiccup” at No. 16, where he found the waste area bushes left of the fairway and made double.
“Just keep playing golf. Nothing more,” DeChambeau said via Yahoo Sports regarding his mindset after the setback. “Frustrated obviously but nothing I could do. I pulled the drive. It went into a bush. Had to move on.”
Although the Hero is not considered an official PGA Tour event and does not award FedExCup points, it does award Official World Golf Rankings points and marks DeChambeau’s first start in the new season. He’s made two previous appearances in the limited-field, invitational event, finishing tied for 12th in the fall of 2018 and placing 15th in 2019. The event was not held last year due to the pandemic.
Last season, DeChambeau was seventh on the FedExCup standings with 20 cuts made in 22 starts and nine top 10s, including wins at the 2020 U.S. Open and the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational. He led the Tour in driving distance at 323.7 yards — a PGA Tour record — and was first in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee.
World rankings points are particularly precious for Morikawa, who has a chance to take over the No. 1 ranking from Spain’s Jon Rahm.
“I’m going to keep saying it, that I just have to focus on trying to win this week and if it does, I know it’s going to happen,” said Morikawa, whose 66 Friday included six birdies, two bogeys and an eagle.
For Koepka, coming off his 4-and-3 trouncing over DeChambeau in last week’s “The Match” in Las Vegas, said his performance in the Bahamas has him pleased with the direction of his game, especially in light of a recent equipment change. Koepka had already made four starts in the new season and missed back-to-back cuts in his two last starts — at the Mayakoba and Houston Open, both last month.
“I would — to be honest with you, the equipment,” he said Friday when asked what’s he’s been most pleased with this week. “I think that’s — it’s one thing to try it out on like a 12-hole exhibition, but when you come out here under the gun and really try to shape shots and a little more serious, seeing the ball react the way I want it to, seeing the wedges, the driver, I’ve been so pleased with it and very happy. It’s going to be an easy transition, I think.”
First-round co-leaders Daniel Berger (69), Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy (71) and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer (73) all fell off the top of the leaderboard as world No. 18 Sam Burns vaulted eight spots with a bogey-free 65 to tie for sixth.
Berger is in fifth place at 9 under, McIlroy is in a tie for eighth place and Ancer is tied for 11th.
–Field Level Media
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