Shaky Start, But Solid Finish Keeps Steele In Contention

By Paul Doyle, The Hartford Courant
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

June 21--CROMWELL -- On Thursday, Brendan Steele was scrambling to prepare five minutes before his 7:20 a.m. start in the first round of the Travelers Championship. He wound up shooting an 8-under-par 62 to claim the lead.

There was no last-minute drama as he teed off at 12:20 p.m. Friday. But his second round was far less efficient than his first, as he stumbled through the first nine holes and was at 7-under-par on the turn.

He gathered himself with four consecutive birdies, finishing the round at 1-under-par 69.

"Maybe I should be more disorganized in the future," Steele said. "I was ready to go [Friday], so that's probably why the score is a little higher."

Still, he's in the hunt as the final two rounds begin Saturday. With a two-day score of 131, Steele is just two shots behind leader Scott Langley. The winner of the 2011 Valero Texas Open will need to duplicate his first-round performance (six birdies and an eagle).

"I'm really happy with it," Steele said. "Overall. I felt like I did everything about the same as [Thursday]. It just didn't quite work as well."

Snedeker 6 Under

After spending much of Sunday at the U.S. Open dealing with an achy back, Brandt Snedeker shot a 1-under-par 69 Friday to finish the first two rounds at 6-under 134.

"Two days playing, no issues, getting better every day, so hopefully it's all behind me," Snedeker said. "Obviously, I'm a little further back than I wanted to be. I played really good [Thursday] and just didn't make the putts I needed to. And [Friday], I scraped it around a little bit on the front nine, started to hit a couple better shots on the back nine. I'm going to have to shoot something low on weekend."

Snedeker said he pulled something Sunday morning and it got worse as the day went on. He finished tied for ninth at the Open and tests came back negative Monday. After a few days of therapy, he is in the hunt in Cromwell.

"I was playing good so I thought if I could get through the painful part of it I was swinging it really good and hitting it really solid, kind of hitting it where I was looking, and U.S. Opens don't come along every day," Snedeker said.

Special Exhibit

Organizers of an exhibit, The History of The PGA Tour in Connecticut, will have 1953 Insurance City Open champion Bob Toski cut the ribbon in the opening ceremony Saturday at 9:45 a.m. at The First Tee of Connecticut. The exhibit is a decade-by-decade walk through time using words, photos and video. Sammy Davis Jr.'s golf bag and putter, tournament crystal, signed pin flags and other memorabilia will be on display. .

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Ace For Byrd

Jonathan Byrd, hitting a 9-iron, scored the 10th hole-in-one of his career at the par 3 153-yard 11th. But he didn't keep the ball. Instead, Byrd turned to the gallery and tossed it to a kid who had been following for him the past two days.

"He was with us all [Thursday] and he was there our first tee this morning," Byrd said. "He was excited to be out there. He was fist-pumping us on about every hole. It was pretty cool. He was about my son's age [8] so I just gave him the ball."

The shot helped Byrd just make the cut and came after he opened his round with a birdie. He received no prize for his ace. The only hole-in-one that earns a player a prize in the tournament is at No. 16. The first player to do that receives a bracelet valued at $18,750.

Duke Hangs On

It looked like defending champion Ken Duke wouldn't make the cut after shooting a 4-over 39 on his first nine, the back. A 6 on the par-3 16th sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. But he rebounded with a 2-under 33 for a 72 (137). "Just didn't have it on my front nine, " he said. "Hit a lot of bad shots, and I have no excuse for it, but yeah, it's good to finish strong and be here for the weekend," he said. ... J.J. Henry (68-73--141), the 2006 champion, missed the cut for the first time since 2002. He had made 11 consecutive Travelers cuts. ... Dustin Johnson duplicated the 66 he shot in Round 1, so he carries a 132 into the weekend and is in ninth place. ... Keegan Bradley (66-69-135) has talked about his desire to win an event in his native New England. "I think I have my best shot so far right now," Bradley said. "I mean I'm six back, but go out tomorrow and leave it all out there." ... Other notables to miss the cut: David Duval (151) and Tim Petrovic (143).

Courant staff writers Matthew Conyers, Matt McDonough and Tom Yantz contributed to this report


(c)2014 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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