CROMWELL, Conn. - Only one player in Travelers Championship history - Phil Mickelson in 2001-02 - has won in consecutive years. Fredrik Jacobson is angling to become the second member of the club.
Jacobson shot his sixth straight round under 70 at TPC River Highlands, Friday’s second-round 66 putting him in the lead at the rain-delayed Travelers. There were two weather delays, the first lasting 70 minutes, then play being suspended again at 3:19 p.m., ultimately for the day. There were 77 players who either had not finished or started their second round; play is scheduled to resume at 7 a.m. Saturday.
By the time play was called early Friday evening, Jacobson was long gone, knowing that he’ll have a chance, whenever his third round begins, of winning here again. Last year’s Travelers is the only PGA Tour victory in Jacobson’s career.
“You play well for a couple of days, it’s easy to start thinking about the finish line already, and I can see that,’’ Jacobson said. “Any tournament is tough to win. To win two in a row is probably tougher. But you know, you have the thing going for you, good memories to draw from, so hopefully that allows a little bit to increase your chances.’’
Jacobson bogeyed his last hole, but started par-birdie-birdie-eagle to get into the lead. He’s one shot ahead of Nathan Green (3 under on his round through nine holes) and Charley Hoffman, one player who didn’t want to see the weather delay. After making a par on his first hole, No. 10, Hoffman rattled off birdies on his next five holes, and was tied for second at 8 under when the horn blew.
“It was a nice five-hole run,’’ he said. “Obviously wish I probably could have kept it going a little longer, but obviously in a good frame of mind going into tomorrow.’’
Feast or famine
Nobody has more birdies so far than Zach Johnson - 13, same number as Blake Adams - but he was tied for 26th when play was suspended, six strokes behind Jacobson at 3 under after rounds of 72-65. The problem is that Johnson hasn’t been able to keep big numbers off his card. If he does that the last two rounds, he could be someone to keep an eye on, the way he’s been able to generate birdies here.
“I’ve made two doubles and a triple, and I’m at 3 under par,’’ Johnson said. “You do the math, and it’s pretty easy to figure out where I could be.’’
Johnson, in addition to some admittedly poor swings, knows where the problem is. TPC River Highlands is playing mind games with him.
“I mean this in a nice way, but I don’t respect this golf course enough. I come here and I feel like when I see it, I’m 4 under before I even tee it up,’’ Johnson said. “Granted, there’s some holes on the back nine that can grab you, but I just feel like 3 or 4 under is par. There are times when you’ve just got to be conservative on certain holes.’’
The hole that’s given him the most trouble is the 420-yard 17th. Johnson made a triple bogey there in his first round, and took a double there in the second round, hitting balls into the water both days. Would he like to blow the 17th hole up?
“Yeah, I’d like to, but I’m going to own it on the weekend,’’ Johnson said. “It had me, now it’s mine.’’
US Open champion Webb Simpson, paired with Masters winner Bubba Watson and PGA champion Keegan Bradley, shot 69 and finished two rounds at 5 under, the best 36-hole score among the marquee group. Bradley had his second straight 68, while Watson shot 71 to drop to 3 under. All three will make the cut. Simpson said he likely will skip the British Open because his wife is due to give birth to the couple’s second child in late July.
Fall from grace
David Mathis, the first-round leader after a 64, reached 8 under for the tournament after birdies on Nos. 1 and 12. But he played his final six holes 5 over - doubles on the 13th and 16th, and a bogey on No. 17 - to shoot 73 and drop from second to a tie for 26th when play was called . . . Fran Quinn of Holden, Mass., shot 74, and at 6 over will miss his fourth cut in four PGA Tour starts this season . . . James Driscoll played only two holes in his second round, making a birdie on No. 11 to reach 3 under . . . Joe Ogilvie went to the hospital after opening with a 74. An MRI revealed a herniated disk in his back, with Ogilvie saying on Twitter that his season might be over. He withdrew from the tournament, as did Mathew Goggin (first-round 72) and Steve Wheatcroft (74) . . . Because of Thursday’s heat - it was 98 degrees, the hottest round on the PGA Tour this year - caddies were given the option of not wearing the bibs with their player’s name on the back. Many chose not to, but the offer was not available for the second round.