Byrd falters, but stays in it
Jonathan Byrd sits at 5-under-par at the Wells Fargo Championship and in a tie for ninth going into Saturday.
He feels like he can win the tournament because he almost won it before – back in 2011 when he lost in a playoff to Lucas Glover.
But that was before a wrist injury sidelined him for more than three months in 2013. Since then, the former Clemson All-American and 2002 PGA Rookie of the Year has finished in a tie for second with two top-10s.
“I’m playing well enough and putting well enough,” Byrd said. “I hit a lot of good putts today. So I just feel like if I can sharpen it up a little bit, tee-to-green, I got just as good of a chance as anybody.”
Byrd got up to 7-under after a three-birdie front nine, but he had three bogeys on the back nine. He hit back-to-back flop shots on Nos. 15 and 16 that resulted in a par on the par-5 15th and a bogey on the 16th.
“They’re kind of spots where you want to hit a hero shot, and I didn’t have great lies on either one of them to be able to do that,” Byrd said.
“I just started to kind of get out of sync on the back nine, just mad (at) a few bad shots Played great on the front, though.”
Mickelson befuddled: Phil Mickelson searched for a reason why he shot 3-over-par on Friday, but he couldn’t find one.
Mickelson entered the day at 5-under but left Quail Hollow at 2-under after a poor day on the greens.
“I can’t believe the difference in putting from (Thursday) to (Friday),” Mickelson said. “Yesterday I saw every ball go in the hole, and today I couldn’t get them to fall and was 3-putting, which is funny because the greens today were so perfect.”
Mickelson has seven top-10 finishes in 10 appearances at the Wells Fargo Championship, but he’s seven strokes behind Martin Flores and Angel Cabrera for the lead.
Long birdie: Shawn Stefani pounded in a birdie putt from more than 50 feet on the par-4 fourth that helped him shoot 4-under on Friday.
Stefani’s approach shot landed 51 feet below the pin, placed in the back left of the green. The birdie was one of six on the day, and he sat alone in fourth place at 7-under for the tournament.
“I was trying to get a line and get the best putt I could, and if you get close, great,” Stefani said. “I hit it about 10 feet out. I though, man that looks good, but it’s got a lot of speed. And it hit the back of the hole and it was nice to see it go in.”
Notable cuts: Former Gastonia Forestview and East Carolina golfer Harold Varner III couldn’t rebound from a 6-over first round and missed the 1-over cut line at 6-over after shooting even par on Friday.
Former Wells Fargo champion Lucas Glover shot 6-over, and so did former U.S. Open champion Padraig Harrington. Jonas Blixt finished at 2-over. Fielding Brewbaker, who perhaps had the best name in the field of players, missed the cut at 2-over.
Observations• Former Panthers coach and current Broncos coach John Fox was on the back nine Friday, as he still has a house in Quail Hollow.
• Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney was also walking the Green Mile on Friday afternoon following Byrd.
• Brandon de Jonge tossed his 10-under-par ball to a kid after his round. He said he isn’t superstitious, so he didn’t switch it out.
By the numbers
10 under par on Friday for Charlotte resident de Jonge, which tied the course record.
15 holes in which Kevin Kisner (6-under) didn’t have to ask his caddy for the wind due to “favorable” conditions.
4 under par for defending champion Derek Ernst on Friday, taking him to 3-under for the tournament
64 birdies on the par-5 fifth, which was the easiest hole on the course Friday.
“I’m not that far back, and it wasn’t that far off. It’s not like I’ve got a lot of work to do. I just need to get a little more dialed in.”
“Putting is funny. Sometimes you move your left foot and all of a sudden the hole starts to look bigger.”
“I definitely think something in the 60s will keep me in it and give me a chance Sunday.”
“I said if I can get back to even par for the day and be 3-under, I would be out of it. I didn’t quite get to that point, but I battled back and made the cut.”