MIAMI (AFP) — Swede Alex Noren held a two stroke lead after shooting a second round 66 at the US PGA Tour’s Bermuda Championship on Friday.
Noren had equaled the course record with a 10-under par 61 on Thursday. While he couldn’t match that feat he heads into the weekend with a two shot advantage over American Ryan Moore and Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira.
Noren carried over his outstanding opening round form into his early play, making birdies on the opening three holes.
But then he was only able to add birdies on the 15th and 17th to post his five-under round.
“I played similarly good. Hit probably the same amount of greens, but just didn’t hit as close,” said the 41-year-old from Stockholm.
“Yesterday was probably the best I played in five or 10 years but today the wedges came up 15 feet instead of five and had a bunch of tap-ins yesterday.
“The greens have quite a lot of slope and quite a lot of grain. The first three birdies I just kind of rolled in and then it was a little trickier, but I’m happy with 5 under,” he said.
Noren has never won on the PGA Tour but has claimed 10 victories on the European Tour, now known as the DP World Tour.
Moore backed up his opening 65 with a smooth bogey-free seven-under 64 and was upbeat heading into the final two rounds.
“I hit it a little nicer today,” he said. “Controlled the golf ball a little bit better yesterday, but again, putting was just solid.”
“Made a couple saves when I needed to and knocked in a few of those 15-, 20-footers again.”
“That’s just not what I’ve been making lately, so just got me right to a good position going into the weekend,” Moore added.
The 40-year-old is looking for his sixth win on the PGA Tour and his first since the John Deere Classic in 2016.
Kodaira made three straight birdies from the second hole on to make a bright start to his round as he followed up Thursday’s 64 with a 65.
The 34-year-old from Tokyo has a chance for his second PGA Tour win following his victory at the RBC Heritage in 2018.
Colombian Camilo Villegas put himself in contention with an impressive eight-under 63 moving him to three strokes off the lead and said he is now seeing the fruits of a major rework of his game.
“It hasn’t been a great year, to be honest from a performance point of view. It’s been a great year from kind of reshaping, retooling, overhauling, whatever you want to call it,” he said.
“I started working with Jose Campra from Argentina maybe February. He was very honest with me, he said, I need a year. I was like, wow, man, I’ve got to play. He said, I don’t care what kind of status you have at the end of the year, we’re going to grind and hopefully golf becomes a little bit easier than it’s been the last few years.”
Play was suspended due to darkness for the second straight day with only a handful of players unable to complete their rounds.