CROMWELL - Brian Harman had the rest of the day to relax and watch how the field played out. It ended up working in his favor.
Harman, not first-round co-leaders Jordan Spieth or Zach Johnson, will take the lead into the weekend after shooting a 4-under 66 in the second round of the Travelers Championship on Friday to move to 10-under.
“Putted great today,” Harman said. “Got out of position a couple times, but I was able to get myself good looks at it. I started hitting the ball really well coming down the stretch and made a few more birdies.”
The world’s 28th-ranked golfer finished a stroke ahead of Johnson (68), Russell Henley (65) and Matt Jones (66). Bryson DeChambeau (66), Paul Casey (67) and Beau Hossler (67) were two shots back entering Saturday’s third round. Spieth is at 4-under after a 3-over 73.
Johnson had a chance to once again tie for the lead, but lost a stroke when his birdie putt hung on the lip of the cup at the third hole for longer than the 10 seconds allowed before falling in. He settled for par. Johnson also didn’t have a bogey on the afternoon.
“It looked like it was going to fall in because it was coming in the back door there,” Johnson said of his putt. “Once you get to the ball, once you have ample time to get to the ball, you have 10 seconds. Regardless if that ball, which I found out, is moving in those 10 seconds, it’s still deemed to be at rest.”
But Johnson, who shot a 2-under par on the afternoon, also had one of the signature shots of the tournament so far.
After hitting the ball into TPC River Highland’s lake on hole 17, he had to drop across the water near the 16th tee box, only to put his third shot within eight feet of the hole from 234 yards away and salvage par.
“I just opened up a 4-hybrid and it started over in the grandstands and drew in there,” Johnson said of his shot. “Obviously, where it landed is about the only place it could land to get that close. At that point, you have to make that putt. I mean, you can’t not hit that shot and make that putt. It felt good.”
Spieth and two-time Travelers winner Bubba Watson also dominated the talk of the round, but for different reasons.
After sharing the lead with Johnson in Round 1, Spieth tumbled down the scoreboard to a tie for 25th after shooting a 7-under 63 on Thursday. He was 5-over through his first 14 holes, including a triple-bogey on the par-5 13.
Spieth hit his first shot on the hole out of bounds and the subsequent one into the water. He managed to salvage his round with an eagle on the sixth.
“It was just execution error,” Spieth said. “So there’s not a whole lot I can do about that except for go grind and figure it out.”
Watson, meanwhile, ended his day tied at 7-under after shooting an even 70 in the first round. He is tied with Lanto Griffin for eighth place. Watson ended Friday with six birdies, including his final hole of the afternoon, and an eagle on the par-5 13th hole to just a single bogey.
“[I had a] little more confidence on the ball striking and I made putts,” Watson said. “The key is making putts. When you start making putts, that’s where you’re going to score a decent number.”
Rory McIlroy is also at 7-under after shooting a 69. He made up a stroke after making just two birdies and a bogey. Although McIlroy wasn’t entirely pleased with the round, he knew it could have gone worse.
“I was patient,” McIlroy said. “I could have gotten frustrated pretty easily, feeling like I was missing a few chances and not playing quite as well as I did yesterday. I felt like mentally I was pretty good. You sort of need to do that when you don’t have your best stuff.”
There were some notable players that missed the 2-under cut. Masters champion Patrick Reed shot a 67 to finish at minus-1. Graeme McDowell shot a 68 to finish even, while Brandt Snedeker ended his tournament at 5-over.