DeChambeau (64) Leads Watney by 1 in Safeway

Bryson DeChambeau slumped a bit toward the end of last season and missed the cut two weeks ago in A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier in his first start of the new campaign, but seems to be back on track.

The 26-year-old from Clovis carded a flawless 8-under-par 64 to take a one-stroke lead over Nick Watney midway through the Safeway Open on the North Course at Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa.

“I played better than yesterday, when I scraped it around but was able to get the ball in the hole,” said the ninth-ranked DeChambeau, who has won five times on the PGA Tour in the last three seasons. “I made some nice putts, but the key was my short-iron play.

“I’ve always been pretty good off the tee, but my ball-striking wasn’t what I wanted it to be, especially with my wedges. But I got some new wedges and things clicked right away. I was able to lay up and hit the ball close to the hole.

“It’s a different me and I was able to come out and shoot a good score today.”

DeChambeau, who opened with a 68, birdied three of four holes through No. 8 and then added four more birdies in five holes to start the back nine, before finishing with a birdie on the last to post a 36-hole score of 12-under 132.

Watney, who claimed the last of his five PGA Tour victories in the 2012 Barclays, sank an 11-foot birdie on the last hole to finish off a 65.

“I only had one tough hole (mad bogey on the eighth), but other than that it was smooth sailing,” said Watney, who grew up not far away in Davis and attended Fresno State. “I had a chance to shoot a good score and I was able to do that. I just wanted to try to point and shoot, not make it too complicated. The greens are getting a little crispy now, but they were pretty pure for me.

“This is the closest I get to play to home, so it’s nice to play well. (His family and friends) are great with all the support, so it’s even better to shoot a round like this.”

Sixth-ranked Justin Thomas collected six birdies in a span of seven holes in a 64 that left him three shots back in a tie for third with Cameron Champ of Sacramento (68), Dylan Frittelli of South Africa (65), Nick Taylor of Canada (66) and Adam Long (68).

Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal recorded a 64 and is one more back in a tie for eighth with John Oda, who had a 66, while ninth-ranked Francesco Molinari of Italy totaled 71 and is five shots behind in a tie 10th with rookie Robby Shelton (67), Chez Reavie (68) and Brian Gay (67).

First-round leader Adam Scott of Australia stumbled to a 73 and is tied for 14th, while seventh-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA is tied for 28th after a 71.

Defending champion Kevin Tway shot 72 and missed the cut by one shot, while Phil Mickelson missed the weekend by two despite recording a 69.

Tony Romo, former quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys who was playing on a sponsor exemption, followed a solid opening 70 with a 78, making six of his nine bogeys on the front nine and missed the cut by six strokes.

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