Britain’s Paul Casey fired a nine-under 27 on the back nine on Friday to surge into contention at the USPGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Championship, behind halfway leader Brendon Todd.
Todd, a graduate of the Web.com developmental tour, had seven birdies in his six-under-par second-round 64 for a 36-hole total of eight-under-par 132.
The event has a purse of US$6.9 million.
Todd was two strokes in front of a group of eight players headed by Casey, whose seven-under 63 — the low round of the day — came courtesy of his scintillating back nine.
Casey became only the eighth player in USPGA history to fire 27 for nine holes, one off the tour record 26 fired by the US’ Corey Pavin on the front nine in the first round at Milwaukee in 2006.
“I had no concept of what I was doing,” Casey said after completing 36 holes at six-under 134.
Casey’s lone USPGA title came at the 2009 Houston Open, but he has 13 other global triumphs, including last year’s Irish Open.
Casey took bogeys at the third and par-three fifth holes, and although he pulled one back with a birdie at the par-5 seventh, he closed the front nine with another bogey.
Then came his blazing back nine.
Casey sank a six-foot birdie putt at the 10th and followed with a 24-foot birdie putt at 11.
After finding a greenside bunker at 12, Casey saved par from 13 feet and followed with a birdie from 13 feet at the par-three 13th hole.
Casey added birdie putts from nine feet at 14 and four feet at 15 before making an eagle at the par-five 16th, dropping his second shot 32 feet from the cup and then dropping in the putt.
He followed by parring the par-three 17th and closing with a birdie, sinking a five-foot putt at 18.
“The seal was broken when I got to 10,” Casey said. “It just spiraled from there. I like to think I would be pretty good at shooting low rounds of golf through the past, but certainly nothing like that.”
Casey’s prior low score over nine holes in a USPGA event was a 30, which he achieved twice, most recently at New Orleans last month.
However, Casey is just one of many players within striking distance of Todd, sharing second place with Germany’s Martin Kaymer, former Masters champion Mike Weir and Weir’s fellow Canadian Graham DeLaet, Australian Marc Leishman and the US’ Morgan Hoffman, Tim Herron and Charles Howell.
Kaymer, winner of last week’s prestigious Players Championship, posted his second straight 67. Weir, Howell, DeLaet, Hoffmann and Herron all carded 66s, while Leishman posted a 68.
Another five players, South Africans Retief Goosen and Tyrone Van Aswegen, and the US’ Gary Woodland, Ryan Palmer and Boo Weekley, were tied for 10th on 135.
Todd separated himself atop the crowded leaderboard with birdies at 17 and 18, capping a round in which he needed only 22 putts.
“It’s nice to put two under-par rounds together before the cut,” Todd said. “That’s been a challenge for me this year. I’m excited to be in the last group on the weekend.”
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