NAPLES, Fla. – Joe Durant birdied five of the last eight holes for a 9-under 63 to match Steve Stricker’s Saturday finish and take the second-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions’ Chubb Classic.
Durant rebounded from a three-putt bogey on the par-4 10th with birdies on the next two holes and also birdied Nos. 15-17. He had a 14-under 130 total on TwinEagles’ Talon course for a one-stroke lead over Stricker.
”You’re going to laugh at me when I tell you this, but it was actually a par I made on my first hole,” Durant said. ”I pulled my tee shot left, went into a bush and had to take an unplayable, had to drop back and hit an 8-iron about 15 feet and made par and it was kind of like, ‘OK, well, maybe the putter is going to work today.”’
Stricker had nine birdies in a bogey-free round.
”I look forward to playing with Steve,” Durant said. ”He’s a class act, one of my buddies out here, and obviously he is playing well and he had a great round today. It will be a shootout tomorrow, no question, but it will be fun.”
The 53-year-old Durant has two PGA Tour Champions victories after winning four times on the PGA Tour.
The 50-year-old Stricker is making his first start of the year on the 50-and-over tour after playing six tournaments last year – a runner-up finish in his debut and three third-places ties but not a victory.
”That’s why I’m here, to try to win the golf tournament,” the 12-time PGA Tour winner said.
He played the last two weeks on the PGA Tour, tying for 31st in the Phoenix Open and tying for 26th at Pebble Beach.
”You can be a little more patient on the big tour because pars sometimes are good scores,” Stricker said. ”Out here you need to make some birdies and when you see guys running away, that’s when you lose your patience, at least I did yesterday.”
Playing alongside John Daly, Stricker birdied three of the last four on the front nine and birdied the last two for a back-nine 31.
”Yesterday, I wasn’t very patient and I let a couple slip away that I should have had,” Stricker said. ”On the par 5s on my second nine yesterday, I walked away from a couple pars, and that was frustrating. So I kind of let that get to me. Today, I was a lot more patient, and I felt it on the greens. When you’re patient on the greens, you tend to roll the ball a little bit better, and I rolled a lot of nice putts.”
First-round leader Miguel Angel Jimenez was two strokes back. He birdied three of the last four in a 68 after opening with a 64.
”Tomorrow is going to be a fight,” Jimenez said. ”It’s going to be nice. As long as you are around the lead, one shot behind, one shot ahead. A lot of golf to come. Just play golf, let everything come.”
Lee Janzen (67) was 11 under, and Kevin Sutherland (68) and Scott McCarron (68) were another stroke back. Daly was 8 under after his second 68. Three-time champion Bernhard Langer had a 70 to get to 5 under.