J.B. Holmes Leads Wyndham Clark By 1 Stroke At 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open At Halfway Point

J.B. Holmes Is Seeking His 3rd WM Phoenix Open Title As He Takes The Lead Into The Weekend - Image Courtesy Vimeo

By Alfie Lau

Two-time Waste Management Phoenix Open champion J.B. Holmes is halfway to a third at the midway mark of the 2020 tournament. Holmes followed his opening round (-7) 64 with a (-6) round of 65 to take a one-shot lead over former Oregon Duck Wyndham Clark. 

Holmes looked set to make it back-to-back rounds of 64 before a closing bogey on his final hole. Holmes would finish with six birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on the driveable par-4 17th, where the front left pin position tempted almost every player.

18 months ago, Clark was regaling the press in Portland, Oregon about his expectations on the PGA TOUR after he had earned enough money to graduate from the Web.com (now Korn Ferry) Tour.

Being picked to represent the Winco tournament is important because it is a sign of confidence in the person who is asked to talk about “graduating” from this tour to the PGA TOUR; that person is not only not expected back, he is supposed to compete and perhaps win on the PGA TOUR.

Confident, but not cocky, Clark said the PGA TOUR was where he expected to be and he believed he could thrive there. In his first season, he finished 64th in the FedEx Cup, taking home almost $1.3 million, with three top-10 finishes. This sophomore season, he is just 138th in the FedEx Cup, with almost $300,000 in earnings and just one top-10 finish.

But that could all change in the next 48 hours, as Clark is in second place, just behind Holmes, and the duo will be paired in the final group Saturday, traditionally the most raucous day in golf. Clark is sponsored by local Phoenix legend Bob Parsons and his industry-disrupting golf club business PXG, and sits at (-12) 130. He followed up his opening round 61 with a 69. “My game’s there,” said Clark. “I just (have) to tune it up and tomorrow, I just have to go out there and feel free and play well.”

On the Canadian front, Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin will lead the charge into the weekend after his Friday (-4) round of 67 has him at (-6) for the tournament. Hadwin got off to a slow start, as he started on the back 9 and made bogey at 11. But then he reeled off birdies at 13, 17 and his final three holes at 7, 8 and 9 to put himself within shouting distance of Holmes.

Hadwin, playing his first tournament in 2020 after the birth of his daughter, is looking to get some good momentum going, as he will leave his young family for the next two weeks to play at Pebble Beach and then Los Angeles. Also teeing it up Saturday is Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor, who shot his second consecutive (-1) round of 70 to sit at (-2) for the tournament. Taylor started well with a birdie at the first, but gave that back on the 4th before another birdie at 7 was followed by bogeys at 8 and 9.

Taylor was able to right the ship at the par-5 13th with his third birdie of the day. His fourth and final birdie came at the par-4 17th after Taylor got up-and-down from the left side bunker on the par-3 16th. Corey Conners, in one of the last groups to finish on Friday evening in Scottsdale, also sits at (-2) after rounds of 71 and 69. Conners made four birdies Friday, with just two bogeys in the middle of his round. 67 players made the cut, which was (-1) 141.

Missing the cut were Merritt’s Roger Sloan, who followed up his opening round (+2) 73 with an even par 71, but that wasn’t enough to get him a Saturday tee time. Ontario’s Mackenzie Hughes also improved by two shots, but rounds of 74 and 72 were not going to get it done in Scottsdale where the greens were soft and the absence of wind meant birdies could be had almost everywhere.

Other notables who are departing Scottsdale on Friday night include Jordan Spieth, who shot a nice (-2) round of 69 Friday; young stars Matthew Wolff and Cameron Smith, along with veterans Brandt Snedeker, Luke Donald and Ryan Moore.

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