CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Brendon de Jonge began the second round of the 12th Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club hoping to give himself some momentum heading into The Players Championship next week.
That’s the most he could have hoped for after posting an 8-over-par 80 in the opening round to sit last in the field. Making the cut was barely a consideration.
Instead, the Charlotte resident and Zimbabwe native bettered his opening score by 18 strokes Friday and tied the tournament and course record with a 10-under 62 that moved him to 2 under and into a tie for 30th. He made eight birdies and an eagle.
“I had absolutely nothing to lose starting out this morning and I had that mindset all day, trying to get as far under par as possible,” de Jonge said. “I knew it was going to take a wonderful round just to play the weekend, so it was a little bit easier to relax and be a little bit more aggressive out there.
“I wish I could go into every round with that kind of a mindset, but it’s easier said than done.”
He changed putters for the second round, and the new putter got him off to a quick start with birdie putts of 22 and 9 feet, and he later added birdie putts of 40, 21, 20, 14, 11 and 8 feet. “I made a couple of putts early today; I couldn’t make it from 3 feet yesterday,” de Jonge said. “It’s a strange game.”
His biggest improvement on a single hole came on the par-4 14th, where he chipped in from 63 feet for an eagle 2 after making a double-bogey 6 on the hole Thursday.
Despite tying the course record, or setting one if you consider the course is different since the changes in 2013, de Jonge didn’t want to hang onto the ball as a memento, tossing it to a pleading youngster on the side of the ninth green. “I didn’t pull the ole switcharoo. You know, it’s just another golf ball. I’m not that superstitious.”
de Jonge’s parents are staying at his home this week and have been in the U.S. from Zimbabwe for the past month. They were following him Friday, along with other family and friends.
de Jonge has made the Wells Fargo cut in each of the past five years, though a fourth in 2010 was his only finish inside the top 40. He played the course a couple times last week but that was the first time he’d seen the changes.
“I love this tournament,” de Jonge said. “My wife does a great job of handling the ticket requests and things, and it’s fun to play in front of a home crowd when you have people pulling for you and I’ve always enjoy it and always played well here, as well.”
He’s got two more rounds to gain momentum for next week, if not do something more impressive.
“To be honest, I didn’t expect to be playing this weekend, so everything is a bonus,” de Jonge said. “I have to do a good job of starting fresh tomorrow and realizing that it’s a new round.”
Rory McIlroy shot a 69 Thursday and entered the second round just three shots off the lead and tied for seventh, but found himself 2 over through just four holes.
He three-putted for bogey on the second hole, then doubled both the third and fourth holes after taking unplayable lies from behind a tree on the third hole and well left of the green on the fourth.
“It was just sloppy shots and I ended up making a couple double bogeys in a row,” McIlroy said. “I just didn’t have my game today … and my putting didn’t feel as comfortable as it was [Thursday].”
In 2010, McIlroy made the Wells Fargo cut on the number and was 10 shots out of the lead through two rounds and ended up winning the tournament with a final-round 62. He’s 10 back on the cut number, and when asked if a repeat is possible he referenced de Jonge’s 62 Friday.
“I would like to think so,” McIlroy said. “There are low scores out there. I just need to be a little more clinical with my iron play and get them closer to the pin, and finish them off.”
Most of the big names in the Wells Fargo field made the cut to the weekend, which fell at 1-over 145.
Past champions McIlroy and Rickie Fowler both made short par putts on the 18th hole to remain in the tournament, and others who made the cut on the number included Quail Hollow member Johnson Wagner, Hunter Mahan, Bill Haas and Clemson alumnus Kyle Stanley.
The biggest name to miss the cut was Englishman Lee Westwood, who shot a 3-over 71-76–147. Missing the cut by a shot at 146 were Scott Gardiner, Brian Gay, Jonas Blixt and Jhonattan Vegas, and others absent from the weekend include Bo Van Pelt, Nicolas Colsaerts, Ben Crane, D.A. Points, Jimmy Walker, Nick Watney, Darren Clarke, Lucas Glover, K.J. Choi, Padraig Harrington, past champion Sean O’Hair, Camilo Villegas, last week’s winner Seung-Yul Noh and Carolinas PGA club pro Kelly Mitchum of Pinehurst, N.C.
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