Chile’s Joaquin Niemann and England’s Tom Lewis fired three-under- par 69s on Friday to share the halfway lead in the US PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, Michigan.
At 10 under 134, Niemann and Lewis topped a crowded leaderboard, with Americans Troy Merritt, Chris Kirk and Max Homa a shot back on 135.
Another eight players were two strokes off the lead, a group that included overnight leader Davis Thompson, who followed up his first-round 63 with a one-over-par 73.
Niemann was among the handful of players who returned to complete the first round on Friday morning.
He launched his second round with seven pars before a two-foot birdie at the 8th. He birdied the par-five 14th and drained a seven-footer at 17 for his third birdie of the day.
“Right now everything is pretty good,” said Niemann, who became the first Chilean to win on the PGA Tour with victory at the Greenbrier two years ago.
Lewis, a two-time winner on the European Tour, is seeking a first US PGA Tour title, but acknowledged he had plenty of work to do to make that happen on Sunday.
“This is obviously the hardest tour to play on and to win on, but I’m a long way away from that,” he said. “If I can, then awesome. My time will come when I’m ready.”
He rattled in a nine-foot par putt at his final hole to remain bogey-free for the week.
“I was saying to my caddie, John, it would be nice to go up and down and go bogey-free for two rounds,” Lewis said. “It’s always nice doing that. I’m really pleased with the way I’ve been playing.”
Homa joined the chasing group with a seven-under-par 65, while Merritt and Kirk both signed for 68s.
Scotland’s Russell Knox also posted a 65 to join the group on 136.
But as afternoon winds kicked up, plenty of players found the going difficult.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, followed an opening 72 with a one under 71 that had him miss the cut by two strokes.
Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama will also miss the weekend, the Japanese star withdrawing after testing positive for Covid-19.
“It’s disappointing to receive this news and have to withdraw from the Rocket Mortgage Classic,” Matsuyama, the first Japanese man to win a Major golf championship, said in a statement.
“I will take all the necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all others. I appreciate and thank everyone for their concern in advance. I look forward to a full recovery and returning to competition as soon as possible.”
© Agence France-Presse