BLAINE, Minn. (AP) — Bryson DeChambeau figured a score well into the double digits below par could win the inaugural 3M Open.
He’s already there, halfway through.
DeChambeau dominated the second round, racking up nine birdies to finish Friday at a career-low 62 and vault into the lead with a 14-under-par score halfway through the first-time PGA Tour event at the TPC Twin Cities.
“You’re not going to be perfect, but I can keep driving it well just like I have been, and become more and more confident, that’s the Bryson we saw last year,” said DeChambeau, who went bogey-free over the first two days for the first time in his career.
Adam Hadwin arrived in the clubhouse in second place at 12-under, after five birdies in a steely performance on the back nine amid an on-and-off drizzle during the afternoon. Hadwin, who finished sixth a month ago at the Canadian Open in his native country, shot a 66 to follow up his first-round 64. He was well aware when he teed off exactly how far he’d have to come to pull within striking distance of DeChambeau.
“I am the quintessential leaderboard watcher. I know almost at any point where everybody is at, even at 9 a.m. on Thursday morning,” Hadwin said. “I knew. I obviously knew that low scores were available today, but at the same time you still have to be patient. You still have to let it come.”
Scott Piercy, who opened a two-stroke lead with a 62 in the first round Thursday, started on No. 10 and sputtered through the windless, muggy morning with five bogeys on his first nine to offset an eagle. Piercy still came in at 10-under. He was joined by Sam Burns, Brian Harman and Sam Saunders in a four-way tie for third place.
DeChambeau played with Keegan Bradley and Charles Howell III, who used two eagles to shoot 66 and reach the weekend at 8-under. Tony Finau joined Howell in that large group by chipping in for eagle on the 18th.
Just ahead of them, in a smaller bunch tied for seventh at 9-under, was Arjun Atwal, a 46-year-old from India who became one of four late qualifiers Monday for the 156-player field by shooting a 62.
World No. 1 Brooks Koepka had another quiet day, finishing at 3-under.
The biggest name to miss the cut was Phil Mickelson, who has failed to reach the weekend in four of his last six events. After taking a triple bogey on his way to a 74 in the first round, Mickelson shot a 73 to finish 2-over.
DeChambeau entered the event tied for just 133rd on the tour in greens in regulation. His previous best round on the tour, which he joined in 2017, was a 63 he posted three times. The most recent one was at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January, when he finished tied for 10th.
The first high-profile player to commit to this tournament at the Arnold Palmer-designed, 19-year-old course on a former sod farm now flanked by 4,000-square-foot houses about 20 miles north of downtown Minneapolis, DeChambeau has four top-10 finishes this season. That includes the fifth tour victory of his career at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas in November.
After finishing third in the FedEx Cup standings in 2018 , DeChambeau entered the week in 25th place on the strength of his tied-for-eighth finish at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut two weeks ago. He missed the cut in three straight starts this spring, including the PGA Championship.
The 3M Open was attractive to DeChambeau for more than just the potential boost toward a top-10 FedEx Cup finish and the momentum heading into the final major of the year at the British Open in two weeks.
The former physics major at SMU who’s fondly known on tour as the “Mad Scientist” for his exceptional interest in and knowledge of swing mechanics and other intricacies of the sport, DeChambeau eagerly paid a visit this week to 3M world headquarters in Maplewood about 25 miles from the course in Blaine. He checked out some of the innovative projects in the works by the manufacturing giant best known for Post-It notes.
Wearing his usual newsboy-style, classic white golf cap in tribute to Ben Hogan, DeChambeau doffed it often as he walked confidently around the course. The sure sign this was his day came as he wrapped up at the daunting ninth hole, a 502-yard par-4. His second shot landed slightly beyond the rough between the green and one of the many water hazards lurking at the course, about 50 feet from the pin and out of danger. He left his first putt just 3½ feet short, leaving an easy tap to save par.
“That was the only time I was nervous today,” DeChambeau said. “Everything else felt like just a pure rhythm.”