KAPALUA, Hawaii – Gary Woodland shot the round of the day at the Tournament of Champions and left Kapalua’s Plantation Course with a three-shot lead after Round 2.
He also has some big-name competition on his heels.
Woodland carded a 6-under 67 for the second consecutive day and moved to 12-under overall. Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau each shot 5-under 68 on another extremely breezy day in Maui and are T-2 along with 18-hole leader Kevin Tway at 9 under.
It’s the third Tournament of Champions appearance for Woodland and first since 2014, when he finished T-13. He was 24th in his debut in 2012 and said in past years he’s had a happy-to-be-here attitude and didn’t prepare like he should have. A new approach this time around has served him sell through 36 holes.
DeChambeau continued to make waves Friday by putting with the flagstick in, which is legal under the new rules that went into effect on Jan. 1. Coincidentally or not, he’s leading the field in strokes gained putting and put together another solid round with a bogey-free 68.
He also dealt with brief showers on the 14th hole.
“We didn’t have an umbrella, not happy about that,” DeChambeau said. “But got through that and made a couple key putts when it mattered most. That’s the thing that I’ve been working really hard on, my initial velocities off the putts. Different angles in these greens, because they’re so different than anything we play all year. Just really worked hard on that and it’s kind of paying off this week.”
All the talk of flagsticks and velocities is almost enough to make one forget that DeChambeau is aiming for his fifth win in seven months. It would also be the sixth PGA Tour win of his career, surpassing the likes of Jason Dufner, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Luke Donald and Billy Horschel.
McIlroy has never played the event but decided to join this year, thanks partly because he was tired of starting the year so far behind in the FedEx Cup standings.
Daniel Chopra is the last first-timer to win here back in 2008, and most rookies have had a hard time getting adjusted despite the friendly fairways. McIlroy said coming in fresh has actually helped him this week.
“I think you get a couple practice rounds in and you should know it pretty well,” McIlroy said. “Sometimes knowing a golf course too well can be a detriment because you know where the trouble is and you’re focusing on the places not to hit it. And so to be fresh at a golf course sometimes isn’t a bad thing.”
Marc Leishman is alone in fifth and four shots off the lead at 8 under while Xander Schauffele, Cameron Champ and Justin Thomas are T-6 at 7 under.
Woodland and DeChambeau tee off in the final pairing at 3:45 p.m. Saturday in Round 3.