Padraig Harrington played patiently on a course that is becoming increasingly difficult to negotiate to take a one-shot lead in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational second round on Friday.
Bidding for his first victory of the year on any of the leading tours, the Irishman followed his opening 64 with a one-under-par 69 on a tree-lined layout running fast and firm.
Two ahead overnight, Harrington mixed two birdies with a sole bogey to post a seven-under total of 133 in the final World Golf Championships (WGC) event of the season.
South African Tim Clark was alone in second after carding a 68 at Firestone Country Club with US Ryder Cup player Scott Verplank (69) a further stroke back at five-under.
World No. 1 Tiger Woods, seeking his fifth PGA Tour victory of the year and a record seventh title at Firestone, was five strokes off the pace after returning a 70.
Harrington, competing in his first tournament since the Open, was delighted to maintain control after covering the back nine in one-under 34.
“You’d like to make some birdies but you’re always aware that you don’t want to drop shots,” Harrington said of his more cautious approach for the second round. “There were times when I was a little bit conservative and it was good in one sense; I only short-sided myself once today.”
His only blemish came at the par-four eighth where he struck a tree with his drive and then pulled his approach well left, leaving himself very little green to salvage par.
His third shot ran 45 feet past the pin from where he two-putted for bogey.
Woods, fresh from registering his 69th PGA Tour victory at the Buick Open on Sunday, remained at two-under after a round featuring two birdies and two bogeys.
“You just have to be very patient,” the 33-year-old American said. “This golf course is playing like it normally does, and it’s very similar to a major championship. You can shoot some good numbers, but a good number this week is going to be somewhere in the high 60s and more than likely you can then move up the board.”
World No. 2 Phil Mickelson, back on tour after a six-week break while supporting his wife and mother during their breast cancer treatment, was at one-under after a 69.
“I fought for pars a lot of the day and I didn’t have a lot of great birdie opportunities,” the American left-hander said. “The greens were a little bit firmer and the fairways were firmer but I thought there were some low scores out there.”
AFP, RENO, NEVADA
American John Rollins shot a 10-under 62, equaling the course record and seizing a two-stroke lead after two rounds of the Reno-Tahoe Open on Friday.
Rollins completed 36 holes at 12-under-par 132 and it marks the first time he has held the 36-hole lead on the USPGA Tour.
Rollins’ 62 matched the course record that Bill Glasson set in 2005 on the Montreux Golf and Country Club course. Joe Ogilvie (2006) and Parker McLachlin (2008) later matched that mark.
The 2003 PGA Champion Shaun Micheel is in second place at 10 under after a seven-under 65.
Chris Riley has a superb early round as he was nine-under through nine holes with five birdies and two eagles on the front nine.
He stumbled on the back with one birdie and two bogeys to shoot eight-under 64. Riley is tied for third place at eight-under-par 136 with Robert Garrigus (67) and Marc Leishman (68).
Rollins came out quickly with three consecutive pars before catching fire. He posted back-to-back birdies from the fourth and again from the seventh to get to six-under.
At the par-five ninth hole, Rollins rolled in an eagle putt and followed with birdies on 10 and 11 to move to 10-under.
Rollins then parred five in a row from the 12th hole.
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