AP – Bubba Watson shot a three-under-par 67 on Friday to maintain a two-stroke lead after the second round of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
After opening with a 62 on Thursday, Watson had three birdies in a bogey-free morning round to enter weekend play with an 11-under total of 129.
The two-time Masters champion won the 2010 tournament for his first PGA Tour title.
Danny Lee is the best of the Australians, tied eighth after solid rounds of 66 and 67, but is bunched with seven other golfers including Keegan Bradley and Nick Watney on 133.
Fellow Australian Aaron Baddeley (134) is tied 16th, but only one shot behind Lee following rounds of 68 and 66, followed by Steven Bowditch (136), Mark Leishman (137) and Cameron Percy and Cameron Smith (both 138).
Brian Harman birdied two of his final three holes during an afternoon round of 65 to join Brian Stuard and Carl Pettersson at nine-under 131.
Stuard, who followed an opening 64 with a 67, pulled within a shot of Watson after back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16. But he bogeyed the 17th after hitting his second shot over the green and missing an eight-foot par putt. He then saved par on the 18th with a 19-foot putt.
“That was kind of a nice momentum-keeper going into the weekend,” he said.
Pettersson had a 66.
One stroke behind the trio are Jason Gore, Chris Stroud and Scott Brown.
Watson said a gusty north wind forced him to play more conservatively and perhaps think a bit more.
“Some of the holes were playing a little bit longer because of the wind,” he said. “The wind was in a different direction, so it just made the course a little bit tougher.”
He was delayed in talking to the media on Friday after being pulled for a random drug test, something he saw as a positive sign.
“I hope I passed it,” he joked. “It’s usually when you’re at the top of the leaderboard, they want to drug test you, especially me.”
Brown had a double bogey on his first hole and posted a 38 on the front. But, after making par on the 10th, he reeled off six straight birdies to finish with a 67.
“The back nine always plays a bit easier here anyway, so I knew there were going to be some opportunities out there. So I just kind of hung in there. When my caddie said ‘Let’s go get them on the back nine’, that’s what we did.”
Watney had the round of the day, shooting a bogey-free 64, with three birdies on each side of the course.
Thirty-three players were within six shots of the lead.
Ernie Els, who shot a 66 in the opening round, bogeyed the first five holes and missed the cut after shooting a 76 to finish two-over after 36 holes.
Others notables who failed to make the cut included two-time winner Stewart Cink, defending champion Kevin Streelman, four-time major champion Padraig Harrington, 2007 winner Hunter Mahan, Louis Oosthuizen and Australians Greg Chalmers, Matt Jones and Robert Allenby.