SAN ANTONIO – Ryan Palmer fired a bogey-free round of 6-under 66 at the Valero Texas Open, two shots ahead of Kevin Chappell, Dylan Fritelli and Matt Kutcher after Friday’s second round.
Palmer, under 10, went ahead with a continuous birdie through the back nine.
Chapel, the 2017 tournament winner, had a low round 65 of the day. Fritelio also got a pass without a bogey during his 66, and shot 69 with a four-straight birdie on Kutcher’s back.
Palmer’s last tour win came in 2019. He was ahead with a 5-foot birdie putt in the 14th par-5. At 15 he converted another birdie putt within 10 feet.
“It’s a golf course. If you get it offline, you’re going to struggle,” Palmer said. “I was able to put the ball in front of me. When I missed the farewell, I got the lucky break, I think. So on the weekends, it’s a matter of avoiding these big misses.”
Hideki Matsuyama withdrew on Friday with neck pain after nine holes, leaving to start defending his Masters title the following week.
Defending champion Jordan Spith got a 4-under for his round after putting a small birdie in his 14th hole. After chipping away three feet away, he was in good shape – where he did three-put. The double-bogie puts him on the projected cut line, eventually making two shots in the 2-under over the weekend.
It wasn’t as good as for some other notable names. Bryson DeChambeau triple bogeyed the first hole and missed the cut. Rory McIlroy failed to break the parity in his two rounds and missed the cut.
A team of JJ Span players have three shots behind Palmer. He led the 10-under in the morning when he landed an 18-foot birdie in his 14th hole. He finished with three bogies.
“I’m still in a good position – there’s a lot of golf left,” Span said. “It was kind of hard to finish, and two bad swings forced me to boogie two. Still happy to get a shot.”
Joining the 7-under Spain are US Open champions Lucas Glover (66) and Gary Woodland (67), Charles Howell III (67) and Brendon Todd (69).
Kutcher bogies three of the four holes in the middle of his round. Starting on the 14th, Kutcher makes four-straight birdie putts 10 feet or more in length. “There is nothing special about the run,” he said.
“I don’t think so – they fall where they fall and you never know,” he said. “As much as you’re trying to stay positive you might think they’ll fall at some point. You never know in a round of golf, and it’s nice that they fell at some point today.”
Chapel’s only tour win came here five years ago. His 65 cards had no boogie. He eagled his 11th hole and finished with two birdies, a 17-foot finishing hole.
“I feel comfortable around this place,” Chappell said. “My soul and this golf course come together. I really enjoy being here. I’m excited about where my game is because I don’t think I’ve played great yet. It’s not like the ball is coming out of the middle. Every time Clubface and I go I was flying there, but I was able to scramble and get the ball in the hole. ”