Webb Simpson drained a 71-foot eagle from off the green to claim a one-shot lead at the Dell Technologies Championship which saw both Saffas remaining in the FedExCup race continue past the cut.
The Players champion’s final-hole brilliance helped him to an eight-under 63 and the 36-hole lead at -11, with England dominating the next few spots.
Tyrell Hatton, who sent his caddie to buy him a putter during last week’s competition at a chain store, matched Simpson’s 63 and was joined by first-round leader Justin Rose at -10.
The 2017 Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood is alone in fourth at -9.
South Africa’s last two men standing, Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace, survived the cut. The former fired a 67 to move into the top 60 in the projected standings but Grace has plenty to do after a 71 that left him in 51st place; it was calculated that he would need a finish inside the top 15 to advance to the third week (of four) of the playoffs.
Grace’s first nine included pars at the 1st and 9th and bogeys and birdies in between as he turned in +1 before a birdie to start his back nine. That gain did not start a run up the leaderboards with a string of pars to close including one at the par-five 9th that saw the likeable South African miss his birdie chance from eight feet.
Oosthuizen enjoyed more success on Friday in a round that included six birdies and two drops.
‘I want to still see if I can get up the FedExCup. And I know if I have a really good week, I am right up there,’ said Oosthuizen after his round.
‘The game is there, I just need to make a few more putts. Yeah, I feel good right now.’
Last year, Oosthuizen could only watch as he finished 31st and missed the tour finale.
‘Yeah, last year the worst was sitting watching it. Everyone that needed not to do good did good on the last. I remember Sergio’s [Garcia] got in the hazard. And Patrick Cantlay made like a 15-footer.
‘And Xander [Schauffele] had a great finish. I was like, oh, man, looks like I’m going to be No 31. And, yeah, hopefully not this year will it be the case. Hopefully I can get well into the top 30s.’
With the bubble looming, the 34-year-old South African has no plans to change his approach ahead of the final two rounds.
‘Today I could easily have gone six, seven under. So I think just do the same things. I’m hitting it well. I’m hitting it well enough to take on a few pins. I just have to try not to make that odd bogey. And I need to make a few more putts,’ he said.
Second round leaderboard: (par-71, USA unless noted):
131 – Webb Simpson 68-63
132 – Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 69-63, Justin Rose (ENG) 65-67
134 – Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 69-65
135 – Cameron Smith (AUS) 69-66, Abraham Ancer (MEX) 66-69
136 – Rafa Cabrera-Bello (ESP) 68-68, JB Holmes 69-67, Adam Hadwin (CAN) 68-68, Kim Si-woo (KOR) 70-66, Beau Hossler 67-69, Keegan Bradley 67-69, Marc Leishman (AUS) 68-68, Jordan Spieth 69-67, Xander Schauffele 68-68
137 – Ryan Armour 71-66, Tony Finau 69-68, Kyle Stanley 70-67, CT Pan (TPE) 69-68, Dustin Johnson 68-69
138 – Alex Noren (SWE) 69-69, Russell Knox (SCO) 66-72, Brooks Koepka 69-69, Tiger Woods 72-66, Bryson DeChambeau 70-68, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 71-67, Kevin Tway 71-67, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 71-67
Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images