England’s Tom Lewis flying high in Detroit as he shares the halfway lead with Joaquin Niemann at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where defending champion Bryson DeChambeau crashed out.
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 03/07/21 12:10am
Tom Lewis will go into the weekend of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in a share of the lead as defending champion Bryson DeChambeau missed the halfway cut in Detroit.
Lewis sits top of the 36-hole leaderboard for the first time in his PGA Tour career after he matched the three-under 69 of Joaquin Niemann to tie the Chilean on 10 under par, one shot clear of a chasing pack that includes popular American Max Homa.
But a troubled week for DeChambeau ended on Friday as rounds of 72 and 71 saw him miss the cut by two strokes, while his fellow US Open champions Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland also bowed out.
Lewis was looking for positive momentum to take into next week’s John Deere Classic, which represents his final chance to qualify for The 149th Open at Royal St George’s, where he enjoyed the first-round lead as an amateur the last time the Championship was staged in Sandwich 10 years ago.
And he is well placed to travel to TPC Deere Run on the back of a victory after a cautious second round in Detroit, carding three birdies and 15 pars in a solid performance that consolidated his opening 65, and he was particularly delighted to hole a nine-foot putt at the last to remain bogey-free for the tournament.
“That was big,” said the Englishman. “I was saying to my caddie, John, it would be nice to get up-and-down and go bogey-free for two rounds. It’s always nice doing that. I’m just happy, even if I did miss that putt, to be in the position I am going into the weekend. I’m really pleased with the way I’ve been playing.”
Lewis admitted he had mixed feelings over his chances for the weekend, declaring himself “confident and nervous”, and he knows that keeping his game together on Saturday will be crucial.
“I’m going to make mistakes on the weekend, I know that, and it’s just a matter of holing putts at the right time to make important pars and obviously make as many birdies as possible,” he added. “So I’m just going to try and enjoy myself as much as I can whatever happens this weekend.
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“I think the toughest round for me is going to be tomorrow. If I can go out and shoot under par, whatever happens, I’ll be really happy with that. Some days I really feel quite relaxed a lot of the times when I’ve been in those positions. Tomorrow’s going to be key for me.”
Niemann has also kept a bogey off his card over the first 36 holes as he chases his second PGA Tour title, while Homa and Russell Knox made huge strides up the leaderboard with 65s on day two.
Scotland’s Knox was one over after four holes and staring at a missed cut, but he played the remainder of his round in seven under par and insisted the blustery conditions brought out the best in his game.
“I need the wind, I think, to bring out the creativity in my game,” he said. “It was windy, but I was in control of my ball today, which is something which I’ve been lacking, I guess, maybe over the course of the season.
“So it was really nice and comforting today to be in control of it and fortunately I was able to capitalize and shoot a good score.”
Knox is just two off the lead at the halfway stage, while Ireland’s Seamus Power is three back after a 71 and Danny Willett recovered from a poor front nine with three birdies on the inward run to get to six under par.
But DeChambeau, who split with long-time caddie Tim Tucker on the eve of the tournament, could not keep the mistakes at bay and offset four birdies with three bogeys in a lacklustre defence of his title.
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