Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
February 25, 2017
The second round of the 2017 Honda Classic is in the books with Ryan Palmer and Wesley Bryan tied for the lead at nine under par.
Palmer’s second-round score of 65 was tied with Brendan Steele for the low round of the day. Bryan followed his opening-round 64 with a solid 67 to share the lead after 36 holes.
There’s plenty of competition in Palmer’s rearview mirror with Rickie Fowler in second place at eight under par.
Here’s the full leaderboard after 36 holes at the Honda Classic:
Palmer was in a good position after the first round, sitting in fifth place. Today marked another step forward for the 40-year-old, who doesn’t have any top-10 finishes and only made one cut in five previous PGA Tour events this season.
Dan Hauser of Links Magazine offered a stat showcasing how unlikely Palmer’s climb to the top of the leaderboard at Palm Beach Gardens is:
Dan Hauser @DanHauserGolf
Crazy stat of the day: Ryan Palmer is +38 in his career at The Bear Trap. Worst among Tour pros. He’s your current Honda leader by 1
This is the kind of performance Palmer has been looking for, especially in light of things that have happened to his family last summer. His father died of cancer, and his wife was later diagnosed with the disease, leading to him taking a leave after the BMW Championship last September.
Following his showing on Friday, Palmer told reporters what he was doing during his time away.
“I watched a few tournaments,” Palmer said, via the Associated Press (h/t USA Today). “There were times when she said I should have gone and played. I was going to play Vegas and I was going to play Malaysia, but after that, there was no way I could play golf. Enjoyed time at home, took care of the kids. But it was a lot of hard times, for sure.”
Palmer’s last PGA Tour win came in 2010, so this has been a long time coming. He’s still got 36 holes remaining to close things out, but this is the best he’s looked all season.
Bryan’s performance so far continues the momentum he built up last week at the Genesis Open when he finished fourth. It was his first time finishing higher than 41st in a tournament this season.
The PGA Tour shared video of Bryan’s final putt on No. 18 that gave him a share of the lead:
Bryan’s putter was his best friend on Friday, as he gained 2.448 strokes with the club. If he continues to excel on the greens over the next two days, he will be celebrating his first career win on the PGA Tour.
Fowler is another player who has been all over the map this season. He’s got two top-10 finishes and two missed cuts in four PGA Tour events prior to the Honda Classic.
Of course, the big key for Fowler over the weekend will be closing strong. His problems last season stemmed from bad Sundays. He blew three final-round leads and was left with a lot of questions as he has fallen to No. 14 in the official world golf rankings.
Fowler is well aware of those past failures and is anxious to flip the narrative. “I feel like it’s time for me to start finishing off some more events when I am in this position,” he told Steve DiMeglio of USA Today.
One player who will not be around after missing the cut but did offer one of the day’s highlights was Shawn Stefani. He shot a two-over 72 in the second round to fall below the cut line.
The real story of Stefani’s round was his second shot on the sixth hole after nearly hitting his tee shot into the water, via PGA Tour:
Stefani was all over the place on Friday with four bogeys, four birdies and one double-bogey to get an early trip home. He was able to show his commitment and willingness to avoid giving up a shot in an attempt to keep playing the weekend.
With four players within three shots of the co-leaders, Saturday will be critical toward determining who takes home the Honda Classic title this year. Palmer has been the most consistent player over 36 holes and appears to be in the right mindset to end his long winless drought.
Stats per PGATour.com.
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