Patrick Cantlay won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open the first time he played it in 2017, finished second each of the last two years and is right there again.
Cantlay (pictured) birdied two of his last three holes to cap a 6-under-par 65 and is tied for the lead with Martin Laird of Scotland, Peter Malnati, Austin Cook and Brian Harman after two rounds at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas.
“You need to make so many birdies, and I’m just used to it out here,” said Cantlay, whose only other PGA Tour victory came in the 2019 Memorial. “It never feels like I’m stressing, because it feels like there are so many birdie holes. It actually allows me to be patient.
“I like this place. I have a good track record here and I really feel comfortable around here. I like the golf course, so I think that helps. … It sets up for a right-to-left shot on a lot of holes, which is my preferred shot.”
Cantlay, from Los Alamitos and UCLA, started at No. 10 and made his only bogey on the next hole before collecting three birdies on each nine to record a 36-hole total of 14-under 128 after opening with a 63.
Laird, who won the 2009 Shriners for the first of his three PGA Tour titles, sank a four-foot eagle putt while finishing a bogey-free 63 at No. 9 after making four birdies on the front nine.
“I hit 5-iron (on No. 9) and I didn’t think I could get it there,” said Laird, who tied for second in his Shriners title defense. “But to that pine, if you’re five yards short of the green, it’s a pretty straightforward chip up the green.
“And as soon as I hit it, I just got it absolutely right and I said to my caddie, ‘That’s as good as I got. Let’s see if it gets there.’ It landed perfect, skipped up to about four feet. It was a nice way to finish.”
Cook birdied five of his first seven holes after starting on the back nine and added two birdies on the front in a 65, while Harman sank a six-footer for his ninth birdie of the day while finishing off a bogey-free 63 at No. 9.
Malnati came along late in the day and sank a 15-foot birdie on the ninth hole to complete a bogey-free 62.
Sixth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, the first-round leader at 62 who won the 2018 Shriners and tied for fourth last year, made a 26-foot eagle putt on the seventh hole and an 11-footer for another eagle at No. 16 in a 67, and is one stroke back in solo sixth.
Sergio Garcia of Spain, who won the Sanderson Farms Championship last week for his 11th PGA Tour victory, wedged his second shot into the sixth hole from 111 yards for an eagle to highlight a bogey-free 64 and is two shots behind in a tie for seventh with James Hahn of Alameda and Cal (66); Wyndham Clark (63); Nate Lashley (67); recent Safeway Open winner Stewart Cink (63), and Sungjae Im of South Korea, who holed a 36-foot bunker shot on the ninth hole to cap another 63.
Defending champion Kevin Na of Diamond Bar, who also won the 2011 Shriners, posted a second straight 66 and is tied for 17th, while seventh-ranked Webb Simpson, the 2013 Shriners champion, made the cut on the number in a tie for 56th after a 67, and fifth-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, shot his own 67 but missed the weekend by one stroke in a tie for 66th.
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