CROMWELL, Conn. — To have the kind of season that Jim Renner has put together — five made cuts in 20 starts, 236th in the points standings, no finish better than a tie for 61st — multiple areas of the game have been a struggle.
One stands out, though: putting. Renner is 198th on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained/putting, which makes it difficult to score well.
“I’m obviously not having a very good year, but the putting thing has been such a pain in the [expletive],” Renner said. “I’ve been patient with it, and I’ve tried a few different things, and after this week I’m kind of on to something.”
The Plainville, Mass., resident has tried different putter models and tweaked his grip, and it has paid off through two rounds at the Travelers Championship.
Renner had a bogey-free 68 Friday, working his way into the mix at a tournament that holds a unique spot for him: It’s the first professional event Renner ever attended (he was a teenager), and also the place he held the first-round lead after opening with 63 in 2011. But he followed that score with a second-round 74 to miss the cut, and shot 69-72 last year here to miss the cut again in his only other Travelers start.
“I’m happy I finally made the cut,” Renner said, “and I’m in a decent position where if I play well on the weekend, who knows what can happen?”
Jason Gore is best known for two accomplishments, both from 2005: He was in the final twosome in the final round of the US Open (and shot 84), and shot a 59 in a Web.com Tour event (which he won). The journeyman has bounced between the PGA and Web.com tours since 2000, but he’s playing full-time on the big tour this year, and is in contention here heading into the weekend. Gore had five back-nine birdies in his second-round 68, which left him three shots behind Bubba Watson. “Contrary to popular belief, I still think I’m a pretty good golfer,” Gore said. “For a while now I felt like something good is coming.”
A testing day
Watson has a great track record at TPC River Highlands, with a win in 2010 and three other finishes of sixth or better. Still, his 62-67 start this year came with an additional postround task: On Friday, he was randomly selected to take a drug test, administered by the PGA Tour. “I passed it, hopefully,” said Watson, who has one bogey through 36 holes. “It’s usually when you’re at the top of the leaderboard, they want to drug-test you, especially me.” . . . Keegan Bradley missed his final three fairways (his tee shot at No. 15 found the lake and led to a bogey), but he’ll start the third round inside the top 10 after Friday’s 69 left him at 7 under, four shots behind the leader.
Phil Mickelson will remain the only person to repeat as Travelers champion. Kevin Streelman, last year’s winner, shot 70 and missed the cut by one. His birdie try from 12 feet on the 18th hole slid just left of the hole . . . Scott Brown opened with a double bogey on No. 1, but came back with six straight birdies (Nos. 11-16) to shoot 29 on the back nine, one off the course record. Brown is 8 under.