Sunday, March 26, 2017

Fore Things: Putter keeping Stenson in contention

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – Adam Hadwin tore up the back nine Friday to take the second-round lead at the Valspar Championship. Here are Fore Things you need to know from Innisbrook:

1. Hadwin went low again. One of two players this year to shoot 59 on Tour, the 29-year-old Canadian shot a 6-under 29 on his back nine to grab the halfway lead for the first time in his career.

2. Henrik Stenson’s putting, not his ball-striking, has him in contention. He’s regarded as one of the world’s best iron players, but so far the putter is why Stenson is only three shots back heading into the weekend. He has made all 32 of his putts inside 10 feet and is currently ranked fourth in strokes-gained putting.

3. Bryson is lurking. Shaking off a season-long slump, DeChambeau shot rounds of 67-70 to move into the top 10. He’s had a terrible first year on Tour, with seven missed cuts and no finish inside the top 30. But it’s been a good week: His father, Jon, received a kidney transplant on Wednesday, and Bryson has seen improvement with his putting after adopting the Matt Kuchar-style method.

4. This wasn’t ideal Augusta prep for Justin Thomas or Bubba Watson. Both players missed the cut. Unless he adds Houston, Thomas will have only one more start before the Masters. (He is skipping Bay Hill because his close friend, former teammate and fellow Tour pro Trey Mullinax is getting married next weekend.) Watson, meanwhile, continued his free fall. He doesn’t have a top-10 in a full-field PGA Tour event since his victory last February at Riviera.

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