Recap of the day
Early wave: The morning charge was made by rookie Scottie Scheffler, who surged four clear by posting 13-under 127 after a bogey-free 62. Cameron Smith (64) and Sam Ryder (66) also made moves to reach 9-under but Kevin Na, the defending champion, could only shoot even-par 70 to remain at 6-under after starting out in a tie for second.
Late wave: Teeing off in the first afternoon group from the 10th, Joaquin Niemann caught the leader on 13-under with a 62 of his own before Adam Long added another to hit 12-under. All these 62s were looking mighty impressive until Kevin Chappell went mad, birdied nine holes in a row from the 11th to the 1st, and added three more to sign for a magical 59. For those keeping count, he became the 10th player in PGA TOUR history to shoot a sub-60 round. It's not often a player jumps over 100 spots in the space of 18 holes but Chappell pulled off the feat after going 12 shots lower than his first-round 71. And all this in his first PGA TOUR event since last November due to back sugery. What a way to return! Late in the day, first-round leader Robby Shelton added a 65 to his opening 62 to make it a three-way tie for top spot.
Cut: Fell at -4.
WD: Marc Leishman
Revised outright betting: 11/4 Niemann, 7/2 Scheffler, 7/1 Shelton, 12/1 Long, 16/1 Harman, Chappell, 20/1 Smith, 22/1 Varner III, 33/1 English, Im, Ryder.
Saturday weather forecast
Temperatures return to 80 degrees but the humidity brings the threat of t-storms in both morning and afternoon. Disruption awaits. Winds are light.
Leaders after at 36 holes
Scottie Scheffler (62, 127) – Four birdies out of the gate and another four the rest of the way to complete his lap in 8-under. Pinged 16 GIR after finding 9 (of 14) fairways and three of his 26 putts were from over 24 feet. That'll help.
Joaquin Niemann (62, 127) – Anything you can do. After sharing 65s with Scheffler in round two, the Chilean matched the American's 62 although his lap included an eagle. Found the dancefloor 16 times for the second day running and all his stats were strong.
Robby Shelton (65, 127) – A slow start (+1 thru 4) but then picked up the pace. Joined the lead with four birdies in five holes from the 11th. Ranks in the top five for both SG: Tee To Green and SG: Putting.
Adam Long (62, 128) – Joined the 62 shooters thanks to eight birdies and ten pars, a shot lower than the pair of 63s he fired when scoring a shock win in the Desert Classic back in January. No bogeys this week and ranks 1st in SG: Tee-To-Green.
Fate of the favorites
Bryson DeChambeau (70, 138) – No spark this week and a missed cut. Better with his irons today (16 GIR) but the putter went cold.
Viktor Hovland (68, 136) – A destructive double bogey for the second day running. Eagled the 12th but could only add two birdies. Hit 15 greens but now a long way back.
Jason Kokrak (68, 137) – Just six par breakers over the first two rounds wasn't enough for this birdie-fest. Blame the putter for that and his subsequent missed cut.
Sungjae Im (67, 133) – Back-to-back bogeys stopped his momentum a little and no big moment like Thursday's hole-in-one. A balanced attack so far.
Kevin Chappell (59): "I couldn’t be happier where I’m at or more proud of myself in what I did. Ten months ago I was on the couch and couldn’t walk. So many people had a lot to do with getting me out here and getting me competitive. I haven’t accomplished anything yet, there’s a long weekend ahead, but this is a step in the right direction. I never stopped believing but it’s nice to have the evidence and move forward.”
Scottie Scheffler (62): "I felt like I got off to a really good start, which definitely helps. Made a few nice putts at the beginning of the round and ball striking was really solid again today, so I had plenty of looks. Pretty stress-free so far. Just hoping to keep that going for the weekend."
Joaquin Niemann (62): "I love this place. I remember it was my first tournament, my first PGA TOUR event. I play as an amateur in 2017, and 2018 it was where I got my card. It's really special place. I really have fun here. I also love the course."
Adam Long (62): "Just kind of cruise control early honestly. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and made enough putts to keep me in it. Apparently I lost by three (to Chappell's 59) today, so still some work to do!"
Robby Shelton (65): "Coming down the stretch I saw that there were some low numbers. But, you know, I started out 1-over through three. I just kind of wanted to just get my game back where it was yesterday, and I did that. I had a lot of good looks. You know, some putts fell in the back nine, and it was a good day honestly."
Sam Ryder (66): "I think I'm just a little bit sharper right now with my game. Had a good off week with my coach up in Michigan, and just came in with some confidence. A little bit disappointing to end my year a little early earlier than I wanted to last year only making it to Northern Trust, but ready to go for the fall."
Cameron Smith (66): "Nice to get out there today and shoot low. Really solid. I've had probably a month off golf now. It's nice to be back playing competitively again. The course is lovely; the resort is lovely. It's my first time here. Yeah, just soaking it all in."
Road to victory at The Old White
2018 Kevin Na – R1: 64th, R2: 8th, R3: 3rd
2017 Xander Schauffele – R1: 3rd, R2: 5th, R3: 3rd
2015 Danny Lee – R1: 2nd, R2: 3rd, R3: 5th
2014 Angel Cabrera – R1: 31st, R2: 13th, R3: 2nd
2013 Jonas Blixt – R1: 9th, R2: 7th, R3: 3rd
Notes: Five of the eight winners here were in the top eight at halfway but the other three were 13th, 18th and 23rd. Another take is that five of the eight were five shots or more off the pace. As DC Kevin Na said after today's round, "There is always hope. There is always hope. This is a golf course you can go low. If you're playing well, you shoot a 7-, 8-under, and you're right back in it." Kevin Chappell proved that today.
Fate of the 36-hole leaders at The Old White – where did they finish?
Notes: No halfway leader has won since this tournament became part of the schedule in 2010. That said, we've seen two 36-hole pacesetters finish runner-up and three others end the week in the top four.
Focus on – Kevin Chappell
This was Chappell's lowest round by three shots and he's now the joint-holder of the longest birdie streak in PGA TOUR history after matching Mark Calcavecchia's run of nine.
The new list of sub-60 rounds is updated as follows:
58 Jim Furyk (2016 Travelers)
59 Al Geiberger (1977 Memphis Classic
59 Chip Beck (1991 Las Vegas Invitational)
59 David Duval (1999 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic
59 Paul Goydos (2010 John Deere Classic)
59 Stuart Appleby (2010 Greenbrier Classic)
59 Jim Furyk (2013 BMW Championship)
59 Justin Thomas (2017 Sony Open)
59 Adam Hadwin (2017 CareerBuilder Challenge)
59 Brandt Snedeker (2018 Wyndham Championship)
59 Kevin Chappell (2019 A Military Tribute At The Greenbrier)
Focus on – Scottie Scheffler
The 23-year-old Scheffler led both the Finals points list and the overall points list to earn a fully exempt PGA TOUR card for the 2019/2020 season. To many, he was the closest thing to a surefire hit. Scheffler won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019 and also finished runner-up on two further occasions. One little pattern in those results was that they all came on the back of a maximum of one week off. Scheffler is a player who likes to keep the engine running and he gave this insight during his post-round press conference when asked about his season on the Korn Ferry: "It was a good year, solid year. Felt like we learned a lot. It's a lot different playing week to week. Coming from college we only play a few events a year, so definitely week to week was a bit of an adjustment. I think that suits me a little better. Doesn't really give my too much time to I would say overthink things, kind of practice too much. I'm more of a guy that likes to go out and play."