Power surges from nowhere to get in the mix in Detroit

The Irish Times - - Sports - PHILIP REID

If you were to be­lieve the hype, the stage at the Rocket Mort­gage Clas­sic should be re­served for those with the X-Fac­tor, those like the hulked-up Bryson DeCham­beau or some­one like Matthew Wolff, the up­com­ing young star with the quirky swing.

Add Séa­mus Power to the mix. The 33-year-old from Co Water­ford – a grad­u­ate of East Ten­nessee State who has flit­ted be­tween the main PGA Tour and the sec­ondary Korn Ferry Tour in re­cent sea­sons – played bo­gey-free golf to shoot a sec­ond round 66 for an 11-un­der-par mid­way to­tal of 133 to claim a share of the club­house lead.

That Messrs DeCham­beau, Wolff and the in-form Mark Hub­bard rep­re­sented the com­pany atop the leader­board was proof of just how well Power had played to get into po­si­tion to con­tend for a first PGA Tour ti­tle over the week­end.

Power – who had missed the cut in each of his last two events on the sec­ondary Korn Ferry Tour, and with lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties on the main cir­cuit given his sta­tus – has, so far, made the most of his chance with strong all-round game, hit­ting 15 of 18 greens in reg­u­la­tion in the sec­ond round and get­ting his put­ter to more of­ten than not fin­ish the job in claim­ing six birdies.

“It’s a course, if you can drive it well, you’re go­ing to have plenty of chances, you can reach some Par 5s, you have some wedges [in hand for ap­proach shots],” said Power. “So that was kind of a big fo­cus on Tues­day, Wed­nes­day, try­ing to make sure the driver’s in as good a spot as pos­si­ble . . . I prob­a­bly rate my­self as a pretty good course man­ager. You just have to kind of pick your spots. But the ad­van­tage I have, first two rounds that

I’ve been driv­ing it well, so I give my­self more op­por­tu­ni­ties to be ag­gres­sive.”

Of back­ing up his open­ing round 67 with a 66, he added: “I’m pleased with it. I didn’t quite have my A game, I guess, but I was able to man­age it pretty well and hit some good shots at the right time.”

Power got up and run­ning early on when he sank a 45-footer for birdie on the sec­ond hole. He backed that up with a four-footer for birdie on the third and rolled in a five-footer on the sev­enth to turn in 33 strokes.

Power then claimed fur­ther birdies on the 10th (from seven feet), the 13th (from six feet) and an­other on the 14th (from three feet) to move to­wards the top of the leader­board.

Hav­ing failed to keep his full tour card last sea­son, Power’s form – some­what out of the blue given his best re­sult so far this sea­son was tied-35th in the Puerto Rico Open be­fore lock­down – has come at a wel­come time with the op­por­tu­nity to tick a num­ber of boxes go­ing for­ward if he main­tains it into the week­end.

A win, in­deed, would be life-chang­ing; but even a top-10 would get him into the field again for next week’s Work­day tour­na­ment in Ohio.

“I’m just de­lighted to be play­ing, so I’m just try­ing to re­lax and en­joy it,” said Power.

Wolff, the 21-year-old Amer­i­can who se­cured his break­through win in the 3M tour­na­ment in this same week a year ago, had six suc­ces­sive birdies – from the 14th to the first – in his round but suf­fered his only bo­gey on his fin­ish­ing hole, on the ninth, after a poor drive into the rough, which saw him drop back into a share of the lead.

‘‘

I didn’t quite have my A game, I guess, but I was able to man­age it pretty well

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