There is a split at the top of the Travelers Championship 2022 leaderboard and while it seemed for a moment that two of the biggest names in golf would be responsible for it, in the end it is Xander Schauffele who is alone in the lead. Sitting at 14 under and in possession of a five-shot margin, the American will be looking for his sixth PGA Tour victory and his first individual triumph in more than three years.
Last winner of the 2019 Tournament of Champions, Schauffele will have his work cut out for him despite back-to-back rounds without a bogey from 7-under 63. His closest pursuers include his good friend and Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teammate Patrick Cantlay as well as defending champion Harris English and Kevin Kisner at 9 under.
Right behind them in the standings is Rory McIlroy who had a rather volatile Friday and at one point saw his name alone at the top of the standings. Two loose tee shots on McIlroy’s back nine led to disastrous scoring and as a result, he finds himself 8 under for the tournament despite birding 15 in his first two rounds. He will have to keep his foot on the accelerator – as will the other pursuers – in order to prevent Schauffele from running away with this tournament on the last 36 holes.
1. Alexandre Schauele (-14): After connecting on 18 greens in regulation time on Thursday, Schauffele continued to hit the ball well in the second round. The reward for his consistent play is a five-stroke lead and he’s more than overdue as the 2021-22 season has been a weird one for the world No.15. Winning alongside Cantlay in the Zurich Classic team event, Schauffele has only supported once on his own, with that instance returning in February at the WM Phoenix Open. Despite his inability to play himself into the weekend mix as often as he would like, Schauffele should be more than comfortable in the spotlight during the second half of the Travelers Championship.
“It’s only Friday. We still have 36 holes and I have to stay aggressive,” Schauffele said of his mindset going forward. “It’s a course that gives a few birdies, and if you’re ahead of the pack and you feel comfortable, people are going to hunt you down. That’s definitely something (caddie Austin Kaiser) and I will speak and I will stick to what we have done. Obviously, it worked very well. Sticking to the process is always a good thing.”
T2. Patrick Cantlay, Harris English, Nick Hardy, Cameron Davis and Kevin Kisner (-9)
T7. Rory McIlroy, KH Lee, JT Poston, Seamus Power, Sahith Theegala, Charles Howell III, Martin Laird and John Huh (-8)
Someone must have stolen McIlroy’s powers on the back nine of his second round because he was in perfect control of his game through the first 27 holes of this tournament. At one point, reaching 13 under, the Northern Irishman imploded on the par-4 12th and carded a quadruple bogey before adding a double bogey on the driveable par-4 15th. After signing for an 8-under 62 on Thursday, McIlroy tread water on Friday with a tied performance and now finds himself six shots behind Schauffele.
English in a position to successfully defend
Just his third week back in competition, Harris English looks like himself in 2021. Undergoing hip surgery in the winter due to a torn labrum, the 2021 Travelers Championship winner was forced out of the sport from January to June. Rising up to 10th in the Official World Golf Rankings, the Englishman now finds himself narrowly in the top 30 and seems to be getting stronger with every additional round under his belt.
“The hip is better,” English said after posting a 65 in the second round. “The hardest thing is walking and playing. going down those hills and being up for five or six hours is the hardest part. It’s getting better and better, and I feel like the more competitive rounds I play here, it’s just going to get stronger. So I’m glad to have made the cut, have made the weekend for two tournaments in a row. This is my third tournament back, so I’m just excited to keep playing golf.
Niemann, Burns and Spieth among those with the weekend off
The Travelers Championship boasted a top-flight field to start the week and unfortunately there are a number of top players who were dispatched early. The headliner of this group is world number 9 Sam Burns, who couldn’t do anything after getting a taste of competition last week at the US Open. The three-time winner this season is joined by Jordan Spieth who failed to bounce back after opening with a 5 of 75 and Joaquin Niemann who struggled despite some short game heroics.
Travelers Championship odds, picks
Here’s a look at the updated odds for the mid-term Travelers Championship, via Caesars Sportsbook.
- Xander Schauele: 5/6
- Patrick Cantlay: 15/2
- Rory McIlroy: 8-1
- Seamus Power: 20-1
- English Harris: 25-1
- Cameron Davis: 25-1
- Kevin Kisner: 28-1
- Nick Hardly: 35-1
- Scottie Scheffler: 35-1
- Webb Simpson: 40-1
- KH Lee: 40-1
English made a nice addition last night in unison with some exposure to Simpson, so I don’t mind holding pat and letting moving day happen before we make our next bet. However, if you’re itching to click on a name before the weekend begins, McIlroy is currently sitting close to his pre-tournament number and has the firepower to chase Schauffele over the final 36 holes. He overcame a five-stroke deficit at the CJ Cup earlier this season and has already birdied 15 in just two rounds. If he can avoid quadruple and double bogeys, he should thrive playing from behind.