Beau Hossler and Wyndham Clark remained atop the leaderboard, but they have to hear footsteps.
Hossler (pictured, right), from Rancho Santa Cucamonga in Southern California, and Clark (left) posted a best-ball score of five-under-par 67 to hold a one-stroke lead over Doc Redmond and Sam Ryder, and Sungjae Im of South Korea and Keith Mitchell midway through the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, La.
There are 18 teams within four shots of the lead.
“Yeah, we were really solid tee to green, to be honest,” said Hossler, who has never won on the PGA Tour but lost in a playoff to Ian Poulter of England in the 2018 Houston Open. “It was a fairly stress-free round. I think the only hole we had remotely any stress on was probably No. 17, which I think every group on the course probably is going to have stress on that hole.
“With that said, I think we both performed really well. I would say it was a pretty equal effort, to be honest, and with the exception of the long putt on No. 4, I think we didn’t do anything crazy, but we also didn’t really make any mistakes. It was a really clean round.
“We’re in a great spot. I like our mentality.”
Clark and Hossler ,who opened with a 61 in the four-ball format, collected five birdies in their bogey-free round and recorded a 36-hole score of 16-under 128.
Added Clark: “Well, it’s nice, because he kind of hits a natural draw, I hit a natural fade. We both putt well and we chip well. As far as tee shots to the green go, I’ll hit it pretty far off the tee and then he’ll have a wedge in and he’s been stacking it. It’s made it pretty easy. Then, as far as separate from the golf, we have a lot of fun together, and our caddie relationships are really good. We’re just having fun, and wherever the chips lay at the end of the week, we’re going to accept it and have fun, so we’re enjoying it.”
Redman and Ryder birdied three straight holes on the front nine in their bogey-free 66, while Im and Mitchell had six birdies, but also a double-bogey 6 on the sixth hole in their 67.
Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, and fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, the defending champions, set a tournament record of 63 for four-ball and are two behind in a tie for fourth with Martin Trainer and Cham Ramey, who shot 67; Sean O’Hair and Brandon Matthews, who finished at 69; Matthew NeSmith and Taylor Moore, who wound up at 66, and Nick Hardy and Davis Riley, who also totaled 66.
“We needed to be aggressive here in alternate shot, which is a little dangerous,” said Schauffele, the 2020 Olympic champion. “It was just necessary. We both want to repeat as champions and win this tournament. If we didn’t shoot anything lower than a 65 (today) we would’ve put ourselves in a pretty tough spot.
“ … We were flowing pretty good leading into that (rain) break. So who knows what would have happened.”
Schauffele and Cantlay started on the back nine and collected four birdies and an eagle at No. 9, before making three birdies early on the back nine before a brief rain delay and they finished with tour straight pars.
Cantlay, the 2021 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup champion, was thinking ahead to the foursomes format it round three: “We’d like to get that (tournament record) 59 again in best ball (as they did in the first round last year). We’re going to try.”
Vincent Norman of Sweden and Mattias Schwab of Austria shot a bogey-free 67 and are three strokes behind in a tie for ninth with Henrik Norlander of Sweden and Luke List, who birdied two of the last three holes for a 69, and Aaron Rai of England and David Lipsky of La Canada Flintridge, who had four birdies on the front nine in another 68.
Eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, coming off his victory in RBC Heritage, and his brother, Alex, are tied 20th after making a birdie on the last hole to cap a 71, while seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, and teammate Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal carded a score of 66-70—163 to miss the cut by two strokes.
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