Harris English outlasted Kramer Hickok in a marathon play-off to claim the Travelers Championship on Sunday.

English birdied the eighth play-off hole in a marathon battle against fellow American Kramer at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

The eight-hole play-off is tied for second longest in PGA Tour history (2012 Mayakoba Golf Classic, 1983 Phoenix Open, 1981 Quad Cities Open, 1978 Greater Milwaukee Open and 1965 Azalea Open Invitational) – only three holes shy of the record – 11 at 1949 Motor City Open.

English's birdie putt at the eighth extra hole delivered a fourth career Tour title and second of the season after he claimed the Tournament of Champions via sudden death.

A play-off was needed at the Travelers Championship after English and Hickok finished 13 under through 72 regulation holes.

English catapulted himself to the top of the leaderboard with a five-under-par 65 as Hickok's final-round 67 saw him settled for a share of the lead.

March Leishman – the 2012 champion – used a bogey-free six-under-par 64 to earn outright third position, a shot behind English and Hickok, having initially been tied for first in the fourth round.

A stroke further back was Abraham Ancer (65) as four-time major winner Brooks Koepka (65) headlined a group of five players tied for fifth at 10 under.

Former world number one Jason Day was unable to maintain his title charge – an even-par 70 seeing the Australian star fall into a share of 10th spot at nine under.

Bryson DeChambeau also lost ground on the final day following a 70, which left the former U.S. Open champion seven under at the end of the tournament, alongside overnight leader Bubba Watson (73).

Defending champion Dustin Johnson's (71) bid for back-to-back trophies finished in a tie for 25th at six under and he was joined by Patrick Reed (69).

Three-time Travelers Championship winner Bubba Watson is tied for the lead heading into the final round at TPC River Highlands. 

Watson and fellow American Kramer Hickok carded two-under-par 68s on Saturday to lead the tournament at 10 under. 

Second-round leader Jason Day (70) lurks one stroke back along with Cameron Smith (66) and Russell Henley (68) after 54 holes. 

Two-time Masters champion Watson won his first PGA Tour title at the 2010 Travelers and triumphed again in 2015 and 2018 - the latter his most recent Tour victory. 

Watson said he plans to be aggressive on the back nine on Sunday if he is still in contention. 

"You don't want to play safe," he said. "In my stage of my career if I have a chance to win I'm going to go for it.

"That's the key. I'm not going to worry about third or fourth place. I am going to try to go for it if I can."

Hickok was in position for the outright lead, having turned in a flawless round before recording bogeys at 17 and 18. 

Nonetheless, the 29-year-old Texan has at least a share of the lead after 54 holes for the first time on tour as he looks for his first career win. 

Harris English (67), Brice Garnett (69) and K.H. Lee (69) are two shots behind the leaders at eight under, while Dustin Johnson (65) and Bryson DeChambeau (68) are well within striking distance at seven under. 

Brooks Koepka (69) and Patrick Reed (70) are among those at five under. 

Former world number one Jason Day leads the Travelers Championship heading into the weekend after surging to the top of the leaderboard following two rounds.

Day went low in the second round on Friday, carding a bogey-free and Travelers Championship career-best eight-under-par 62 to claim a one-stroke lead at TPC River Highlands.

Winner of the 2015 US PGA Championship and a 12-time PGA Tour champion, Day's career has been hampered by lingering back problems.

Day withdrew from the Memorial Tournament due to a back injury and did not qualify for the U.S. Open, having missed three consecutive cuts before tying for 44th at the PGA Championship.

But Day enjoyed a return to form as the Australian star earned his first lead/co-lead at a non-major tournament since 2017 thanks to a flawless round, which included eight birdies.

"Sometimes when you do have sort of an injury or stiffness, even if you're sick, sometimes you can come out and play some good golf," he said. "I was fortunate enough to not really get in my own way today."

Three-time Travelers Championship winner Bubba Watson (66) and co-overnight leader Kramer Hickok (69) are tied for second at eight under through 36 holes.

Hickok was 10 under before crumbling at the par-three 16th hole, where he three-putted from 18 feet for a double-bogey to end the day alongside Watson.

Russell Henley (66), Kevin Kisner (63), Seamus Power (67), Justin Rose (63), K.H. Lee (64), Brice Garnett (68) and Troy Merritt (65) are all seven under heading into Saturday's third round.

Big-hitting American star Bryson DeChambeau followed up his first-round 69 with a four-under-par 66 to be four strokes off the pace, alongside the likes of 2012 champion Marc Leishman (66) and Patrick Reed (66).

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka also recorded another round in the 60s – a second-round 67 – to be a shot further back.

PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson (69) and defending champion Dustin Johnson (68) finished just a shot above the cut line at two under to qualify for the weekend.

Kramer Hickok and Satoshi Kodaira share the one-stroke lead after the opening round of the Travelers Championship, where stars Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson were forced to take a backseat.

Unheralded duo Hickok and Kodaira upstaged the star-studded field following their seven-under-par 63s at TPC River Highlands on Thursday.

Hickok – searching for his maiden PGA Tour title – offset a bogey at this first hole with eight birdies as the American golfer posted a career-low round in Cromwell, Connecticut.

"I really only hit one bad putt — on the par-five 13th. Other than that, I just felt like the holes looked awfully big today," the 29-year-old said. "I made a lot of good putts today, and the greens says are rolling so good that just the holes look big."

Japan's Kodaira matched his best score on the PGA Tour, from the second round of the 2018 RBC Heritage – his only victory.

Kodaira holed out from the fairway for an eagle on the 348-yard par-four second hole.

"I knew it was on target but didn't see it go in," he said. "I heard the applause, so I knew it went in."

Talor Gooch is a shot behind Hickok and Kodaira, while Maverick McNealy, Brice Garnett, Beau Hossler, Henrik Norlander and Patrick Rodgers are a stroke further back heading into the second round.

There is a 31-player logjam tied for 45th position at one under, headlined by DeChambeau, Koepka and Mickelson.

DeChambeau, who was dethroned by Jon Rahm at last week's U.S. Open, mixed three birdies with two bogeys to start his Travelers Championship campaign.

Four-time major champion Koepka also shared an identical round, while US PGA Championship winner Mickelson had four birdies and two bogeys.

"I'm awful the week after a major, especially U.S. Open, because it takes so much out of you," said Koepka, who was tied for fourth behind Rahm at Torrey Pines. "But still should have played better. No excuse. I mean, I'm kind of tired. I am going to enjoy getting to bed tonight."

The likes of Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler also shot 69s in round one.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson – who slipped to second in the golf rankings following Rahm's U.S. Open triumph – started his bid for back-to-back titles with an even-par 70.

Brooks Koepka says he has plenty of support on tour in his ongoing feud with Bryson DeChambeau and has no interest in sitting down to talk things out with his rival. 

Their spat has dominated golf's off-course buzz since a leaked video clip from an interview at the US PGA Championship showed Koepka rolling his eyes when DeChambeau walked by. 

Koepka showed no interest in ending the affair in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday ahead of this week's Travelers Championship in Connecticut. 

He said he has received approving text messages from NFL and NBA players, among others. 

"These guys love it," Koepka said. "I think it's drawn them into the golf a little bit more and is making it more fun for everybody. 

"Look, I've enjoyed it. I've definitely gotten the better of him, and I've enjoyed that." 

Closer to home, Koepka said his fellow PGA Tour players and officials also have provided positive feedback. 

"There's been a few laughs, a few 'I can't believe you did that -- I'm glad you did.' It's been fun," he said. 

"I've gotten good response from a bunch of the guys on tour, from everybody from the tour. It's been something I think everybody's enjoyed and definitely changing up the game a little bit."

Though the pair have appeared on unfriendly terms since at least 2019, when Koepka called out DeChambeau for slow play, their most recent fallout has generated a different kind of attention for the tour. 

Koepka seems inclined to keep it going, as indicated by his response to being asked in the ESPN interview how he would respond if DeChambeau approached him with an offer to sit down and smooth things over. 

"There's not much to talk about," Koepka said. "This whole thing started, basically, because of him. I'll leave it at that. I don't see us having dinner or drinks ... just to settle it."

Bryson DeChambeau is fully embracing the atmosphere created by the so-called 'Brooksy bros' at the U.S. Open.

There is little love lost between defending champion DeChambeau and two-time winner Brooks Koepka, with their simmering rivalry one of the more intriguing sub-plots in golf during 2021.

At last month's US PGA Championship, a video of Koepka visibly frustrated at an interruption from DeChambeau went viral, which led to the pair trading back-and-forth jibes on social media.

Prior to the tournament, DeChambeau admitted the two just "don't like each other". On Sunday, as he contemplated going for the par-five 18th in two while in a sand trap, fans of Koepka yelled "go get 'em Brooksy" and "Brooks would go for it".

DeChambeau resisted the temptation to bite but when questioned about it after his round, the world number five insists he is relishing the rivalry.

"Hey, I love it. I think it's so much fun," said DeChambeau, who recorded his first ever bogey-free round in major golf to sit two back of leaders Mackenzie Hughes, Louis Oosthuizen and Russell Henley at three under at Torrey Pines.

"People think that it annoys me. If anything, it just creates a great atmosphere for golf. At first, I didn't really know how to handle it. You're kind of thrown into a situation. 

"But now I enjoy it. I think it's great. You've got to embrace it. There's going to be team Bryson, team Brooks out there, and hey, keep it up, I'm happy about it. 

"I'm excited that one day we can eventually get paired up and play together. It would be fun."

DeChambeau, who scored a three-under 68 in round three, is using driver at almost every opportunity in tactics similar to those he employed when winning at Winged Foot last year.

He says he has learned the nuances of coping with major golf.

"You've got to be really patient out here at these majors. It's something that is not easy to do," he added.

"My first few goes at majors, I was not successful or anywhere near successful, and I feel like I'm starting to understand major championship golf and how to play it and how to go about managing my game, my attitude and just my patience level. 

"If I can continue to do that [on Sunday], I think I'll have a good chance."

Jon Rahm is three off the lead after signing for a one-over 72 on Saturday. The Spaniard thinks being part of the chasing pack may actually play to his strengths.

"I feel like it's easy when you're in the lead to get a little tentative and start trying to be a little bit more safe in certain parts," he said. 

"I feel like when you're a couple shots back, you have nothing to lose early on. So, I feel like you can be a little bit more aggressive and try to get some birdies.

"There will be somebody who gets a fast start, and hopefully that's me tomorrow, and I get a fast start, and I get it going fast."

Since winning The Open in 2010, Oosthuizen has been a perennial nearly man in the majors, recording five runners-up finishes including play-off defeats at the 2012 Masters and 2015 Open, while he was tied second to Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship last month.

The South African is aiming to take the positives from those experiences, though, saying: "The two that really hurt was the playoffs. That's so close to winning.

"You know, the other ones, just good weeks and good results. Could have been better but taking more positive out of it than anything else."

Oosthuizen drained an eagle at the par-five 18th, which drew a huge reaction from the galleries.

"A year ago, that would have been a very boring eagle with a few people going nuts. But that was nice to see everyone back," he said, alluding to the return of fans who were unable to attend in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Bryson DeChambeau said his swing fix "came to him" in a dream after the U.S. Open champion kept his title defence alive.

DeChambeau opened his bid for back-to-back U.S. Open trophies with a 73 but the big-hitting American responded by posting a two-under-par 69 on Friday.

An eagle, four birdies and four bogeys saw DeChambeau surge 47 positions on day two, moving within five shots of co-leaders Richard Bland and Russell Henley at Torrey Pines.

Reflecting on his bounce-back display heading into the weekend, DeChambeau credited a late-night tweak.

"I was sleeping and it came to me in the middle of the night," DeChambeau told reporters.

"Woke up and I was like, hmm, I'm going to try this, and my intuition is pretty good, so I went out and tried it and it worked, just keeping the right wrist bent for a lot longer through impact."

"It's more just my intuition telling me there's something weird here, what's going on, and I couldn't figure it out for an hour and a half last night, an hour last night," said DeChambeau said. "Going back and just sitting down, eating dinner and just thinking about it, thinking about it, I literally won't talk to anybody for like an hour, just thinking, thinking, thinking, and sure enough, I went to bed and I found a little something that worked for my driver."

DeChambeau added: "I feel like if I can clean up my iron play and get a little more comfortable with the irons and the drivers, I'll have a good chance for this weekend."

He is tied for 13th alongside the likes of rival Brooks Koepka (73), Justin Thomas (69) and Collin Morikawa (67).

Amid their ongoing feud, DeChambeau and two-time U.S. Open champion Koepka narrowly avoided being paired together for Saturday's penultimate round.

Koepka – eyeing a fifth major crown – lost ground on the leaders after mixing five bogeys and just three birdies but he told reporters: "I feel right there. I feel like I'm in it. Just need to put two solid good rounds and put the ball in the fairway, and that's it. I love the way I'm putting. I love the way I'm striking it. Just need to keep doing it."

Four-time major winner and former world number one Rory McIlroy is a stroke further back following his second-round 73.

"A bit of a rollercoaster, got off to a good start," McIlroy said. "Made a couple of birdies early on and was under par for the round. Then I made a couple of mental errors and missed it in the wrong spots, and when you do that around this golf course, it's just really hard to see a par.

"I made a few bogeys, but birdieing two of the last four holes definitely makes me feel better about the round and gives me a nice bit of momentum going into tomorrow…So, yeah, in for the weekend and still feel like I've got a really good chance."

US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson also feels he can "make a run at it" after avoiding the cut on Friday.

Richard Bland upstaged a star-studded field to earn a share of the U.S. Open lead at the halfway stage as defending champion Bryson DeChambeau soared up the leaderboard.

Unheralded Englishman Bland, 48, powered to the top of the summit at Torrey Pines thanks to his four-under-par 67 in San Diego, where he continues to prove patience pays off.

Alongside Russell Henley (70) for the one-stroke lead after two rounds, Bland is benefitting from perseverance, having gone almost 20 years without a European Tour title.

At the 478th attempt on the European Tour last month, Bland claimed an emotional win at the British Masters, which earned him a place in his fourth major championship.

Bland – who missed the cut at his one previous U.S. Open appearance in 2009 – dazzled on day two of this year's tournament, storming into the clubhouse lead before being joined by American Henley.

After opening with a 70, Bland holed seven birdies and three bogeys to catapult himself to the top of the standings, before Henley teed off in his second round, amid his improbable dream of clinching a major.

"I feel good about my game," said three-time PGA Tour champion Henley, whose previous best performance at a major came via an 11th-place finish at the 2017 Masters.

"I've never been in this position before in a major. Just feel like I'm going to learn something no matter what happens."

Louis Oosthuizen (71), who was the overnight co-leader along with Henley, ended day two in a tie for third position alongside Matthew Wolff (68), while Bubba Watson (67) and Jon Rahm (70) are a shot further back at three under through 36 holes.

DeChambeau boosted his hopes of back-to-back U.S. Open titles, though the big-hitting American star remains five strokes off the pace heading into the weekend.

A two-under-par 69 saw DeChambeau move to even par as he rose 47 positions into a tie for 13th alongside rival and two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (73), Justin Thomas (69), Collin Morikawa (67), Harris English (70), Branden Grace (70), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70) and Adam Hadwin (72).

Koepka – eyeing a fifth major crown – lost ground on the leaders after mixing five bogeys and just three birdies, while Rory McIlroy followed his opening-round 70 with a 73 to be one over the card as world number one Dustin Johnson (73) ended the day two over.

US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson emerged from the jaws of elimination, qualifying for the weekend via a two-under-par 69 after his forgettable 75 on Thursday.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (76), Adam Scott (75), Sergio Garcia (74), Patrick Reed (73) and Jordan Spieth (69) all avoided the cut, but Justin Rose (77) was not so fortunate at 13 over.

Brooks Koepka was pleased with his first round at the U.S. Open, while in-form Phil Mickelson was in an optimistic frame of mind despite struggling in San Diego.

On an interrupted opening day due to fog and weather at Torrey Pines, two-time U.S. Open champion Koepka finished two strokes behind co-leaders Russell Henley and Louis Oosthuizen (through 16) as play was suspended because of darkness on Thursday.

American star Koepka – chasing his fifth major title – set the standard with four birdies in his first 11 holes taking him into a solo lead.

However, two bogeys meant he had to scramble to recover as Koepka ended the day alongside Xander Schauffele, Hayden Buckley, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, John Rahm (through 17) and Sebastian Munoz (through 14).

Koepka, who has gone on to win or finish second in six of the last 10 majors which he opened with a score in the 60s, said: "You can't win it today but you can definitely lose it. It was nice to get off to a good start, putted well, drove it well on the back nine, my front, but missed a couple fairways there.

"I missed them on the correct side, which is what you've got to do, depending on where the pin location is and get lucky enough where you've got a decent lie and get it there.

"Pretty pleased. Not the best, but I'll definitely take it."

US PGA Championship winner Mickelson is already facing an uphill task following his four-over-par 75.

Mickelson, who became the oldest major winner when he clinched the PGA Championship ahead of Koepka last month, finished with five bogeys, including back-to-back on the front nine.

"It was a great set up and I had some chances to get the round a little bit better," Mickelson said. "Fought hard, made a lot of short putts to kind of keep myself in it and then I ended up bogeying six and seven.

"Two over would have been a pretty good round and I ended up at four, so I'm a little disappointed about that. I feel like I'm close to putting together a good round."

South African veteran Oosthuizen – through 16 holes – moved into a tie at four under after birdieing the 14th.

Winner of the 2010 Open Championship, Oosthuizen is one of three players to finish in the top 10 at each of the last two U.S Opens.

"I just enjoy playing really tough golf courses. I think somehow I focus a little bit better when I play those courses, knowing that the margin for error is really small," said Oosthuizen.

"Especially around this place, you've got to drive it well, you've got to start it in the fairway, and you're going to have trouble if you're missing fairways around this golf course and I've really been driving it good lately."

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy birdied his final hole to move within three shots of the lead heading into the second round.

"It was really nice. The birdie is awesome," McIlroy – who posted a 70 – said. "I mean, that putt was pretty, I was sort of like, I think it's straight, I'll hit it straight and we'll see. But it was nice to get in, get an extra hour of sleep tonight and it was a bonus to birdie in as well."

Louis Oosthuizen joined Russell Henley in a share of the lead as the opening round of the U.S. Open was interrupted, while Phil Mickelson's quest for back-to-back majors got off to an awful start at Torrey Pines.

A fog-enforced delay meant the start of the major tournament was pushed back by around an hour and a half on Thursday, and while Oosthuizen was unable to finish his round, the 2010 Open Championship winner still ended the day alongside Henley atop the leaderboard.

Oosthuizen – one of three players to finish in the top 10 at each of the last two U.S Opens, joining Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele – moved into a tie at four under after birdieing the 14th hole in San Diego.

Henley had set the early pace after claiming an early lead behind his impressive four-under-par 67, which was enough for him to initially head back to the clubhouse with a one-shot lead over Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

It was Henley's sixth career score of 67 or better in a major championship and first since the 2018 US PGA Championship (65 in round two).

Molinari and Cabrera Bello remain a stroke off the pace heading into Friday, with the first round scheduled to resume at 06:50 local time.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is not far behind following his two-under-par 69 to kick off his pursuit of a fifth major crown.

Koepka, who finished second behind Mickelson at the PGA Championship, set the standard with four birdies in his first 11 holes taking him into a solo lead.

However, two bogeys meant he had to scramble to recover as Koepka ended the day alongside Schauffele, Hayden Buckley, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, John Rahm (through 17) and Sebastian Munoz (through 14).

Koepka has gone on to win or finish second in six of the last 10 majors which he opened with a score in the 60s.

World number one Dustin Johnson and star Rory McIlroy were both through 17 holes when play was called for the day.

Johnson had mixed a birdie with a bogey, while four-time major champion and 2011 U.S. Open winner McIlroy had an eventful start with three bogeys and four birdies.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau and his bid for back-to-back trophies started with a two-over-par 73.

American star Mickelson ended the round two shots worse off than DeChambeau following his forgettable 75.

Mickelson, who became the oldest major winner when he clinched the US PGA Championship last month, finished with five bogeys, including back-to-back on the front nine.

Russell Henley took the early lead at the U.S. Open, with former world number one Brooks Koepka not far behind, though Phil Mickelson struggled.

Henley shot an impressive four-under-par 67 at Torrey Pines on Thursday to head back in the clubhouse with a one-shot lead over Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Heading in at fourth was four-time major winner Koepka, the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Open champion going round in 69 on the opening day.

Koepka has been involved in one of the big stories in the build-up to the major amid his feud with defending champion Bryson DeChambeau making headlines, albeit the latter dismissed it as "banter back and forth in good fun."

With DeChambeau teeing off later in the day, Koepka set the standard with four birdies in his first 11 holes taking him into a solo lead.

However, two bogeys meant he had to recover with two pars to finish on two under, giving Henley the early advantage.

Ahead of Koepka, Molinari – who has fallen outside the top 150 in the world rankings – was back to his best, with his brother Edoardo just two shots behind on one under.

There was no such luck for six-time major champion and American star Mickelson, whose chances of claiming this elusive tournament look slim.

Mickelson became the oldest major winner when he clinched the US PGA Championship last month, but shot a four-over 75, which included successive bogeys.

Another former US PGA Championship winner to struggle was Collin Morikawa, who also finished on four over.

"It's not the start I wanted, bogeying every par-three, and I think I had like three three-putts today. It's not acceptable," he said.

"It's not how you keep yourself in a tournament on a Thursday. You know what, this course is going to play tough, and still got at least tomorrow to just grind it out and see how it goes. I had some stretches of decent golf, I've just got to keep doing that and really not compound the errors."

Tiger Woods began his U.S. Open bid with a double bogey in 2008 at Torrey Pines – "a terrible start", said the man who four days later took the title in a sudden-death play-off, after he and Rocco Mediate could not be separated in a two-man fifth round.

The 18-hole play-off scenario is now history, so there will no repeat of such a marathon effort as the major returns after 13 years to the San Diego course this week, and there will be no Woods either.

That 2008 triumph was a 14th major for the American, yet he had to wait another 11 years until the 15th arrived, the man who once seemed booked in to take the major titles record away from Jack Nicklaus having seen perceptions of his life switch from fairy tale to soap opera.

Woods in 2008 was privately fighting the pain of a double stress fracture of his left tibia that he kept under wraps. Yes, he won the U.S. Open with a broken leg.

Whoever lifts the trophy this Sunday is unlikely to have to overcome the tribulations that faced Woods across that long weekend, and the superstar's absence is sure to be felt ... until the first round begins to take shape and a new narrative plays out.

Back in 2008, tournament organisers upped the intrigue by grouping Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott – the world number one, two and three – together for the opening two rounds.

Local favourite Mickelson recalls the moment when Woods fluffed his opening hole.

"I thought that was pretty inspiring the way he didn't let that affect him," Mickelson said this week. "He stayed to his game plan, stayed focused, stayed patient, and ended up kind of picking his spots where he could get a shot back here or there, and he did, and he ended up winning. That's impressive."

After completing his opening round, Woods said his mindset after shooting six at the first was to "just be patient, long way to go", and he finished one over par.

By the end of day two, Woods stood tied for second place, with Mickelson and Scott in a group sharing 35th position.

"The atmosphere for the whole 36 holes that I played with Phil and Tiger was incredible," Scott recalled earlier this year. "But Thursday morning the energy around the first hole was like I can't compare it to anything else actually.

"It was not even like teeing off at the Masters or anything like that. The build-up ... Tiger obviously being Tiger and Phil, the local hero, one, two and three in the world, of course I was like the third wheel hanging off the back, but it was really fun to be a part of that."

Of course Woods is a once-a-generation talent, but should anyone make a similarly poor start this week, it would be wise to take the blow on the chin and move on.

This course, the long-time home of the annual Farmers Insurance Open, should reward a steady temperament.

Mickelson, fresh from his shock victory last month at the US PGA Championship, where he became the oldest winner of a major, described the Torrey Pines greens on Monday as "very challenging".

"There's a lot of pitch, a lot of contour, and as they get firmer, they're significantly firmer than just the last two days," he said.

"It's very difficult to get it to some of the pin positions, and it's going to be a difficult test. As long as it is at sea level it's going to be a difficult task, but it seems like the set-up is pristine, and it's going to be a fun, very difficult challenge."

 

WHO WILL WIN THIS TIME?

With Woods out of the picture, recovering from the car crash he was said to have been fortunate to survive in February, there will be no repeat of his famous success 13 years ago.

Woods has won the Farmers Insurance Open a record seven times too, so he would have been relishing this week. Brandt Snedeker and Jason Day are both two-time winners of that tournament, and Mickelson has been champion three times, but not since 2001.

Mickelson is seeking the trophy that would give him a career grand slam, but it seems fanciful to expect him to challenge, having rarely been a factor in the majors in recent years until his unexpected win at Kiawah Island.

Stats Perform has taken a combination of factors to build a list of potential contenders, assessing past performance at the Farmers Insurance Open but also weighting displays in majors and recent PGA Tour form.

These scores are built around performance at Torrey Pines from 2016 to this year.

In the calculations, top-10 finishers at the 2021 Farmers Insurance Open receive points on a scale from 15 for the champion down to six points for 10th place. This decreases on a year-by-year sliding scale to 10 points for the 2016 tournament winner and one point for 10th place in that event.

There is also two points awarded per top-10 finish on the PGA Tour in the 2021 season, and substantial points availability for recent major success (10 points per major title in 2020 and 2021, 8pts in 2019, 6pts in 2018, 4pts in 2017, 2pts in 2016).

Not all players in the U.S. Open field have played the Farmers Insurance Open each year, and some are rarely active, if at all, on the PGA Tour, but this may give an inkling of the players who could come into contention at the year's third major.

TONY FINAU, 52 points: Finau followed up three top-10 results at the Farmers (2017, 2018, 2020) by finishing a joint runner-up in 2021, pointing to a clear liking for the course. How he enjoys it later in the year than he usually encounters Torrey Pines remains to be seen. Finau also has seven top-10 finishes of tour in the 2021 season.

JON RAHM, 52 points: His first major title is arguably overdue, given his talent and week-by-week results. Rahm was Farmers champion in 2017 and runner-up in 2020, also finishing top 10 in 2019 and 2021. He has a tour-leading 10 top-10 finishes this season, and would surely have had a win at the Memorial Tournament earlier this month before a positive COVID-19 test ended his title charge after 54 holes.

PATRICK REED, 42pts: This year's champion at the Farmers Insurance Open, Reed was also top six there in 2020, has had six top-10 results on tour this season and landed a Masters title in his not-too-distant past.

RYAN PALMER, 33pts: Palmer tied for second earlier this year at Torrey Pines, just as he did in 2018. Those performances and his four top-10 finishes on tour this year make him perhaps the surprise name on this list.

BROOKS KOEPKA, 32pts: Koepka missed the cut this year at the Farmers and did the same in 2017, and he did not play the tournament in the intervening years. Although Koepka has little left to prove in a wider sense – his mountain of points here is accrued through past major wins and a healthy batch of top-10s this season – he has yet to master Torrey Pines. Koepka has also missed the cut at three of his most recent four tournaments this year.

RORY MCILROY, 31pts: Top-five finishes at the Farmers in 2019 and 2020 augur well for McIlroy, and his five top-10 finishes on tour this season is a tally he will aim to add to over the coming days. It may be asking a lot to expect him to carry off the title, but another high placing would seem realistic.

Next on the list: Justin Rose (30pts), Brandt Snedeker (29), Viktor Hovland (26), Xander Schauffele (26), Jason Day (25), Marc Leishman (25), Hideki Matsuyama (25) and Keegan Bradley (24).

Dustin Johnson double bogeyed the last to sit second and two strokes behind leader Chesson Hadley after the second day at the Palmetto Championship in South Carolina on Friday.

Play was suspended late on Friday due to inclement weather but world number one Johnson finished his round with a three-under 68 to remain firmly in contention after his opening day 65 at Congaree Golf Club.

Johnson shot four birdies in six holes on his back nine, grabbing a share of the lead with Hadley, before dropping two on the 18th.

The American started strongly on Friday, birdieing his opening two holes, and appeared in ominous form, driving within 20 feet on the 344-yard par four 15th.

Johnson had been part of a four-man pack tied for second following the opening day, along with 33-year-old Hadley who carded a five-under 66 on Friday, backing up his 65 on Thursday.

Hadley, who had missed five straight cuts entering the Palmetto Championship, bogeyed the second but responded with four birdies from his next five holes.

"I definitely didn't see this coming," Hadley said. "I missed all those cuts in a row, and thank goodness I had three weeks off just to kind of hit the reset switch, get out on the boat, and just kind of forget about some things and spend some time with some family."

The unheralded American leads with 11-under, two strokes ahead of Johnson, with Tain Lee in third at eight-under.

The weather prevented Lee from finishing his second round, getting through 16 at four-under.

American Pat Perez and Irishman Seamus Power both carded five-under 66s to move up the leaderboard into a share of fourth spot. They join Harris English, Chez Reavie and Erik van Rooyen in equal fourth at six-under.

Overnight leader Wes Roach had a nightmare second day, starting with four bogeys from his first five holes, to finish with a six-over 77 to slide way down the leaderboard.

Brooks Koepka shot a second-round 73 to sit three-over and appears likely to miss the cut, which is not yet confirmed given play was suspended.

Wes Roach recorded a career first after earning a one-stroke lead following the opening round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree.

Roach carded a seven-under-par to set the early pace at the inaugural PGA Tour tournament in Gillisonville, South Carolina on Thursday.

The unheralded American golfer, who finished with an eagle, six birdies and a bogey, claimed his first lead/co-lead in his 88th Tour start.

World number one Dustin Johnson is tied for second alongside Doc Redman, Chesson Hadley and Erik van Rooyen.

Johnson, who missed the cut in two of his last four starts – including the US PGA Championship, opened with a 65 – his lowest first-round score on the PGA Tour since he won the 2020 Masters with an opening-round 65.

"I mean, you know, I'm playing well," 24-time Tour champion Johnson said. "I feel like I've been playing pretty good all year, just, like I said, I haven't putted well, short game's been a little off, but today I missed it in the right spots when I did miss it, but hit a lot of real quality iron shots and gave myself a lot of looks."

South African Van Rooyen recorded his lowest score on the PGA TOUR this season.

Van Rooyen entered the week with missed cuts in each of his last four starts on Tour, most recently carding scores of 72 and 81 at the PGA Championship.

Jhonattan Vegas is a stroke further back at five under, while there is a 12-way tie for seventh spot.

Brooks Koepka made his first appearance since finishing second to Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship.

Four-time major champion Koepka – who has been plagued by knee problems – shot a one-over-par 72.

The last four times Koepka has failed to record an under-par score in the first round, he has gone on to miss the cut – 2021 Masters (two over), 2021 Farmers Insurance Open (even), 2021 The American Express (even) and 2020 Mayakoba Golf Classic (even).

Bryson DeChambeau made reference to his potential financial gain through the PGA Tour's 'Player Impact Program' as his feud with Brooks Koepka continued at the Memorial Tournament.

Koepka is not playing at the event at the Muirfield Village Golf Club this week, but that has not prevented his rivalry with DeChambeau from escalating further.

A group of spectators were reportedly ejected from the tournament this weekend for shouting Koepka's name as DeChambeau lined up his shots.

Koepka responded with a video on his social media page promising free beer to 50 people who had their "time cut short" or faced "any trouble".

DeChambeau, for his part, appears keen to avoid an argument, explaining: "I think that's something that the tour needs to handle. It's something I can't control.

"I tried to take the high road numerous times, and I think that, from my perspective, I'll continue to keep doing so and people are going to do what they want to do. So, it is what it is."

However, DeChambeau also hinted at how he could benefit from the back and forth, which came to the fore after a clip of an unpublished interview with Koepka from the US PGA Championship went viral.

The clip appeared to show Koepka become distracted as DeChambeau walked past talking. He swore, cut off the interview and said: "I lost my train of thought hearing that bulls***."

DeChambeau said on Saturday: "If he keeps talking about me, that's great for the PIP fund."

The fund rewards 10 players from a $40million pot based on various metrics including their popularity on search engines and social media.

DeChambeau memes posted by legendary NFL quarterback Tom Brady in the past fortnight should certainly help in that regard.

The interjections from watching fans in Ohio were less welcome, but DeChambeau praised the spectators following Saturday's third round.

"I wanted to say the fans were awesome today," he said. "They came out, supported me. Obviously, you're going to have people saying things, but it doesn't rile me up, it doesn't affect me or anything like that.

"It's great banter, it's fun, but the fans were awesome, the golf course is in great shape."

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