Golf: Xander Schauffele rides hot start to three-shot lead at halfway point of CJ Cup in Las Vegas
18 October, 2020, 22:41
Henley carded a bogey-free five-under-par 67 to move top of the leaderboard through 54 holes in Nevada on Saturday.
Compatriots Xander Schauffele, Talor Gooch, Lanto Griffin and Jason Kokrak shared second on 204 with Australian Jason Day, England's Tyrrell Hatton and American Justin Thomas sharing sixth on 206.
'I've been sort of complaining about my driving and off the tee, but this week's been really good. It's a tough course, but if you hit good shots you can give your self some chances for birdie. "Gives me confidence to know it's working so well".
"Finishing birdie-birdie was nice and hopefully I can take a bit of momentum going into the weekend". The greens are great and it's gettable, but you've got to play well to do that.
Henley sank an eight-foot birdie putt at the par-5 fourth, blasted out of a greenside bunker at the par-5 seventh to 10 feet and made a birdie putt, then rolled in his back-nine birdie treble to seize the lead.
Second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain made a 10-foot eagle putt on No. 16 and is tied for 14th after a 68, while 11th-ranked Brooks Koepka, the 2018 CJ Cup champion, is tied for 18th after a 68, and 14th-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA stumbled to a 74 and is tied for 51st.
The CJ Cup: Russell Henley opens up three-shot lead in Las Vegas
"You keep making putts, it makes up for a lot of flaws in your game", Henley said.
Hatton had a mixed round of seven birdies, three bogeys and eight pars on Friday, but managed to close out his round with two straight birdies.
"I got off to a hot start and kind of slowed down". But I feel like I've made some good strides in my game'. "It was a fun day".
After reaching the turn in 34, Henley drained a 25-footer at the 10th and made a tap-in birdie at the driveable next, with the three-time PGA Tour victor making a five-foot gain at the 12th and then finishing his blemish-free card with a run of pars.
The tournament, typically part of the PGA Tour's Asian swing, was moved to the Las Vegas venue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and features a crowded field of top talent warming up for the Masters next month, including world number three Justin Thomas (68) and the reigning PGA Championship victor Collin Morikawa (71), who were five and six strokes back from the lead, respectively.
"It was just a lot of bad breaks", he said. Not to be like a sour person, but just one of those days.
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