CROMWELL, Conn. – Brendon Todd and Dustin Johnson each shot on career-low 61s at the Travelers Championship on Saturday, giving Todd a two-stroke lead over the 2016 US Open champion.
The 34-year-old Georgian, who played a few holes behind Johnson, had a shot at the second 60 of the tournament, but missed a 10-foot putt to the left on the 18th hole.
He finished with a 54-hole score of 192, 18 under par, after shooting 66-65 the first two rounds. Johnson, looking for his 21st tour win, has also improved every day and started with a 69-64.
Both shot bogey-free rounds, with Todd making five birdies on the first nine and Johnson making five on the back. Todd said the round became a game of whatever you can do, I might as well.
“It’s hard to miss the rankings, of course, so (Johnson’s) name got there pretty early,” said Todd. “Again, I just use it as a motivation to go out and make some more birds.”
Todd is looking for his third win of the season, but his first since fall when he went back to back at the Bermuda Championship and the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.
“Every time I play two or three weeks in a row, I play better towards the end,” he said. “That’s just something I’m using to my advantage now after missing two cuts. I peak in the third week and hopefully I can get it done tomorrow. ‘
Despite going under-under for the day 9, Johnson regretted missing several birdie opportunities and an eagle attempt on the par-4 ninth, when his ball stopped six inches from the pin.
Only two of his birdie pits, an 18-footer on the 10th hole and a 21-footer on the 12th, were taller than 9 feet.
“I really felt like I was really controlling the distance with my irons and hit tons of good shots,” he said. “I watched birds a lot.”
Kevin Streelman fired a 63 after two straight rounds of 66 and was only three shots back. Mackenzie Hughes, who led after 60 on Thursday, shot his second straight at 68 for fourth-place ownership.
“If I had putted today like I did the first day, I could have shot at least 60’s,” said Hughes. “Play the same as I did today, tee to green and roll in a few putts and it will be great.”
Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Na each shot 65 and were in fifth place at 197.
Phil Mickelson, who celebrated his 50th birthday on June 16, started the day with a one-shot lead, but struggled and finished seventh in a group of six shots back. He just made his second bogey of the week on the third hole and also dropped on the seventh and 13th before finishing with a 71.
Mickelson, looking for his 45th victory and third on this track, had a particularly hard time. He missed the cut in his previous three tournaments.
“I didn’t play great this year,” he said. “I’ve missed a lot of cuts and the next thing I know my game is starting to come back and I feel it. I’ve played two great rounds and this is a lot of fun. ”
Top-ranked Rory McIlroy, who opened the tournament with a 63, said he thinks he’s too far back to battle for the title after rounds 68 and 69. He boosted two of his last four holes – his tee shot landed in the water on the course’s signature 15th hole and he also made bogey at 18 – to finish eight shots back in a group.
“I think if I could sneak a few more in the last few holes, I would get to fourteen and then you suddenly feel like you’re right about it. But I went the other way the last few holes, and that took me out, ”he said.
Jason Day requested to be tested for COVID-19 just before his lap on Saturday morning. Officials decided to let him play as a single on Saturday as a precaution. He shot a 69 and is 1-under par on his way to Sunday.
There have been seven COVID-19 related recordings from the Connecticut event.
Two players withdrew due to the corona virus on Friday – Denny McCarthy for a positive test, and Bud Cauley, who tested negative, but decided to withdraw after playing alongside McCarthy on Thursday.
McCarthy was the third PGA Tour player to test positive for the virus since the reboot and second this week to Cameron Champ, who retired on Tuesday.
Nick Watney retired just before the second round of last week’s RBC Heritage Championship. Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Brooks Koepka and his brother Chase also withdrew from the travelers after coming into contact with people who had the virus.
McDowell and Brooks Koepka’s caddies both tested positive. Simpson cited a family member’s positive test.
The PGA said that due to positive tests this week, players, caddies and anyone “in the bubble” will not be allowed on the field at future tournaments until they are first approved with a negative test for the corona virus.
Officials said on Saturday that all follow-up tests due to potential contact with McCarthy were negative.
The round started early in the day due to the imminent weather, with golfers taking off both the first and 10th tee. It ended just before the sky opened. A forecast for more rain on Sunday means an early start.