Bud Cauley’s comeback, it’s still Knapp Time, a lurking Rory McIlroy and more from Friday at 2024 Cognizant Classic

The first two rounds of the Cognizant Classic at PGA National’s Champion Course in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, are in the books and we have a clustered leaderboard heading into moving day.

The name leading the way, however, is Bud Cauley, who is making just his second PGA Tour start since returning to action after a three-plus-year absence thanks to multiple injuries, including some from a car accident.

Cauley, who made the cut at the WM Phoenix Open last month, signed for a 6-under 65 on Friday, good enough to get him to 11-under total and the 36-hole lead all to himself, one clear of Garrick Higgo and Austin Eckroat at 10 under.

“I gave myself enough time to prepare at home before I started playing again,” Cauley told the media. “My expectation was to come out and compete, and I felt like my game was in a good spot.

“Saying it is one thing, doing it is another. I’m really happy with how I’ve played. I feel like my game has been trending in the right way. I’ve been hitting the ball well and just needed some scoring things to start.”

He kept the card clean, tacked on five birdies and is now in position to complete one of the best Tour stories of the last decade.

“There were a lot of times where I thought that my career was over. To be back here playing and playing well, it’s nice. It just makes me that much more happy that I kept after it and didn’t stop trying.”

Cognizant Classic: Photos | Merchandise

Round 2 was suspended due to darkness – 14 players didn’t finish, but there will be 13 returning because Chandler Phillips withdrew – so third-round tee times are unavailable until play finishes Saturday morning.

If you missed any of Friday’s action, no worries, we have you covered. Here’s everything you need to know from the second day at the Cognizant Classic.

Tom Kim finds consistency

2024 Cognizant Classic
Tom Kim plays his shot from the 14th tee during the first round of the 2024 Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at PGA National. (Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Kim missed the cut earlier this season at the American Express, but has since found some consistency in his game. He’s posted finishes of T-31, T-17 and T-24 in three starts since and is in the mix after two rounds at PGA National’s Champion Course.

Back-to-back 68s have Kim at 6 under, five shots of the lead.

“Obviously this course is very penalizing, and when the wind is up like this, you’ve got to play really, really solid,” he told the media after signing his card Friday. “I feel like I put myself in a lot of good positions, scrambled really well and grinded it out. Pleased with the first two days.”

Kim made birdies on both par 5s on the back nine – his front on Day 2 – and made the turn with a 2-under 34. Despite a bogey at the par-3 seventh, Kim made birdies on Nos. 5 and 9.

Rickie Fowler impresses in the wind

2024 Cognizant Classic
Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the fourth tee during the first round of the 2024 Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at PGA National. (Photo: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

Fowler’s round ended on a sour note with bogeys on Nos. 6 and 8 to close out his day – he teed off on No. 10 – but he managed to make a move on a breezy day with a 4-under 67.

He’s long been known as one of the better wind players on Tour, and he showed that on his front nine, starting with an eagle on the par-5 10th. Fowler added three more circles to the card on Nos. 13, 17 and 18 to go out with a 5-under 31.

Fowler is seven shots back after two days and is hoping the wind hangs around over the weekend.

“Hopefully wind will stay up and that’ll kind of get me back in a good position for the weekend,” he said.

It's Knapp Time (again)

2024 Cognizant Classic
Jake Knapp and his caddie talk with Rory McIlroy during the opening round of the 2024 Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at PGA National. (Photo: Palm Beach Post)

Jake Knapp earned his first career PGA Tour win last week at the Mexico Open and was immediately rewarded with a signature pairing alongside Rory McIlroy for the first two rounds of the Cognizant Classic.

And he went shot-for-shot with him over the first 36.

After a first-round 3-under 68 on Thursday, Knapp made five birdies during a bogey-free round on Day 2 and sits 8 under for the tournament and three shots back of the lead.

Following up a win on Tour is difficult, even more so for a rookie, so what Knapp is doing at PGA National is cool to see.

Rory McIlroy loves being back in Florida

2024 Cognizant Classic
Rory McIlroy reacts to his putt on the 16th green during the second round of the 2024 Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at PGA National. (Photo: Brennan Asplen/Getty Images)

After a win in Dubai, McIlroy hasn’t had his game in two Tour starts. He finished outside the top 60 at the shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and tied for 24th at the Genesis Invitational.

But maybe the warm Florida sun was just what he needed.

McIlroy followed up his opening 4-under 68 with another on Friday and is three shots off the lead. With big names lacking from the top of the leaderboard, all eyes will be on the Northern Irishman on moving day.

Shot of the day

On the par-3 seventh hole, Dunlap hit a cut to a front right hole location, and his ball took one bounce before rolling out and finding the bottom of the cup.

“I loved a 7-iron for some reason, and Hunter convinced me to hit the 8,” he said after his round. “I don’t know if you can hear it on the video, but I said right before, I’m like, Hey, 175 gets there, right? He’s like, Yep, it’s perfect. So all the credit goes to him on that one.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek