Keegan Bradley birdied five straight holes in a seven-under-par 63 on Friday to join Denny McCarthy atop the leaderboard at the US PGA Tour Travelers Championship, where Rory McIlroy was among those in the mix.
McCarthy, who led by two after a 10-under-par first-round 60, followed up with a five-under-par 65 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Bradley blistered the back nine to join him on 15-under-par 125 — a 36-hole course record — rolling in five straight birdies from the 12th through the 16th.
Bradley had kick started his round with a 58-foot birdie putt at the third hole and drained a 10-footer at eight. He sank a 34-foot birdie at the 12th to launch his back-nine surge.
“Felt like I could make every putt I looked at,” Bradley said. “I was just reading them really good. When you’re putting good everything feels easy and it’s automatic.”
McCarthy shook off a bogey at the second hole, where he missed the green, carding six birdies the rest of the way.
That included a 43-foot birdie putt at the 10th and another from just inside 20 feet at 18.
McCarthy said it was “nice” to post the 36-hole scoring record for the course, but he remained focused on claiming a first PGA Tour title.
“Golf tournaments aren’t 36 holes unfortunately, so I know there is still a lot of golf left,” he said.
McCarthy and Bradley — who played through afternoon showers — were two strokes clear of Chez Reavie, who carded a 63 for 127. Eric Cole shot a 65 for 129 while Zac Blair and Adam Scott were tied at 130 as the course again yielded a bevy of low scores.
World No. 2 Jon Rahm couldn’t take advantage, firing a one-over 71 that left him at two-under, two shots outside the cutline that came at four-under par.
McIlroy was in a group on eight-under-par 132, climbing the leaderboard with an impressive display on the greens and despite a double-bogey disaster at his penultimate hole, the par-three eighth — the same hole he aced on Thursday.
“Other than that, it was a really good round of golf,” said McIlroy, whose tee shot was in the water.
“It just got hit by a little bit of wind,” McIlroy said. “Hit a pretty good shot. I just misjudged the wind a little bit and it came up short — the one place you couldn’t miss today on that hole.”
The Northern Ireland star, coming off a runner-up finish to Wyndham Clark at the US Open at Los Angeles Country Club on Sunday, had eight birdies at that point, setting the tone with a 19-foot birdie putt at the 11th.
His five birdies in his first nine holes also included a 13-footer at the 14th and a 14-footer at 17. His three birdies coming in included a 25-footer at the third.
While low scores abounded, world number one Scottie Scheffler couldn’t join the birdie fest. He had two birdies and two bogeys in an even-par 70 that left him on seven-under 133.