DETROIT – Taylor Pendrith fractured his fifth rib on the left side while hitting golf balls in March.
“I noticed it at the Players during the third round, just some pain in kind of my back,” he said.
He spent 12 weeks mostly sitting on the couch, watching the NHL Playoffs, and helping his wife decorate their new home. Not much one can do other than sit and let one’s ribs heal.
“I guess it fueled me a little bit to get back and play well,” Pendrith said.
The 31-year-old rookie Canadian is doing just that. In just his third start since the injury, Pendrith is the 36-hole leader at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He followed up his opening-round 64 with a birdie-binge out of the gate. Birdies at his first four holes lifted him ahead of overnight-co-leader Tony Finau, and Pendrith signed for 65 and a tournament record 36-hole total of 15-under 129, a stroke ahead of Finau.
“If you can get it in the fairways here, you can kind of attack,” said Pendrith, who finished T-13 and T-11 in his first two starts back from injury and is seeking his first Tour title.
Finau feasting again
Tony Finau hits his tee shot on the par 3 ninth hole during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Finau keeps feasting
Tony Finau is in the zone.
One week after winning the 3M Open, he’s just one shot off the lead after posting a bogey-free 6-under 66 at Detroit Golf Club on Friday. The last player to win in back-to-back weeks during the FedEx Cup regular season? Brendon Todd in 2019.
Finau hasn’t made a bogey through 36 holes and has carded just two bogeys in his last 107 holes on Tour. He’s an eye-popping 32-under during that stretch. How’s he doing it?
“I’m just kind of bearing the fruit of the labor I’ve had throughout this season and it’s coming together for me late in the season,” he said. “But this thing, this game has taught me it doesn’t matter when it comes. If you continue to work hard, at some point I think you can go on some nice stretches and I think that’s what I’m seeing this week and last week.”
Oh to be Young again
Cameron Young (middle) shakes hands with Will Zalatoris (left) on the ninth green during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
There are few hotter players on the planet than Cameron Young, who finished second in the British Open and tied for third at the PGA Championship and has recorded four runner-ups and two thirds in an impressive rookie campaign.
He cooled off ever-so-slightly on Thursday, shooting 1-under 71 in windy conditions, but he vaulted up the leaderboard by shooting a tournament-best 9-under 63 on Friday. It also matched the 18-hole scoring record at Detroit Golf Club.
That included a hole-out eagle from 136 yards at the par-4 13th hole.
“I said I was going to hit it about four steps long, 140, and a few steps left,” Young explained of his pitching wedge from the fairway. “So I missed it just short right and happened to fly directly in the hole.”
Young showed off to U.S. Presidents Cup Captain Davis Love III, who said he didn’t know Young before this week but certainly does now after playing 36 holes with the promising pro.
“Cameron is trending up. He has been all the way,” Love said. “Obviously got to finish this weekend, but his game just looks so solid right now.”
Theegala’s beard vibes
Sahith Theegala hits his tee shot on the par 3 ninth hole during the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Sahith Theegala’s beard is back this week in Detroit.
The previous beard lasted three months, as he put it, “The beard vibes were good on the last one.”
But he didn’t play so well on the weekend at the British Open so he decided it was time for a change and shaved it off.
That didn’t work out. He missed the cut at the 3M Open, snapping a streak of eight consecutive pay checks on Tour.
“I’m growing the beard back as fast as possible,” he said.
The rookie Theegala opened with 4-under 68 in windy conditions on Thursday and then went out early Friday morning and reeled off five birdies in a six-hole span starting at No. 13 – he started on No. 10 – en route to shooting 67 and improving to 9 under and a tie for seventh at the midway point.
Perhaps Theegala, who has had some close calls in trying to win his first Tour title, can win the RMC this weekend by a whisker.
Hoffman’s streak hangs in balance
Charley Hoffman hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during the first round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Charley Hoffman is trying to make the FedEx Cup Playoffs for a 16th consecutive year and remain among the few, the proud who have done so every year.
“That’s a goal,” Hoffman said after shooting 69 at Detroit Golf Club on Friday. “But I also understand this game’s getting younger and I’m getting older and there’s going to be a year that I don’t make it. Hopefully it’s not this year. I feel like I’ve got a handful of good more years inside me, but it’s going to come to an end eventually.”
The streak is over for Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, who are ineligible since joining LIV Golf. Brandt Snedeker is going to need a big week at the Wyndham Championship, the final regular season event, to remain in good stead. Adam Scott, who shot 66 in the second round (T-7) and Matt Kuchar (MC) both are safe. Hoffman, who dealt with back issues this season, entered the week at No. 177, but is T-13 heading into the weekend and could make up some ground. Is he worried about missing the playoffs?
“The answer is yes, but I’m not stressing out about it,” he said. “Some guys lose their card. I’ve got some medical starts, I’ve got a career exemption, I’m not worried about losing my job. As I said in the past, I want to start playing good golf again and I want to be healthy. And I’m starting to feel healthy, starting to hit some shots I want to hit and the scores are starting to reflect that. Still, the long story short, I’m thinking about it, but I’m not stressing out about it.”