Noren Maintains Two-Stroke Lead by Shooting a Bogey-Free 66 in Bermuda

Alex Noren started and finished fast to remain on top of the leaderboard.

The 41-year-old Noren shot a bogey-free, five-under-par 66 in the second round and holds a two-stroke lead over Ryan Moore, Satoshi Kodaira of Japan and Ryan Brehm in the Butterfield Bermuda Championship at Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda.

Play was halted by darkness for the second straight day with nine golfers still on the course, and they will return Friday morning to complete their rounds before the cut is made and the third round begins.

“The wedges came up 15 feet sport instead of five, and had a bunch of tap-ins yesterday,” said Noren, who opened with a brilliant 61, the lowest score of his career. “The greens, there is quite a lot of slope and quite a lot of grain. The first three birdies I just kind of rolled in, and then it was a little trickier.

“It helps when you had a good round the previous day. You’re not necessarily struggling, not frustrated, it’s just that: ‘What am I doing different today? Am I trying too hard or should I start asking caddie for the reads?’ He helps me off-and-on with the reads, but it’s probably better that I just feel the putts and trust my instinct. That’s what I did yesterday. You’ve got to just stay with it.”

Noren, who has won 11 times on a professional, but not yet on the PGA Tour, birdied the first three holes of the second round and then two of the last four to record a 36-hole score of 15-under-par 127.

Moore, who has won five times on the PGA Tour and started the week at 140 in the FedEx Cup standings but needs to climb into the top 125 to keep full status on the circuit, collected seven birdies in a bogey-free 64, while Kodaira made three birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 66, and Brehm birdied four of his last five holes to cap another 65.

“It’s time to do it or you don’t, right?” said Moore, whose last victory came in the 2016 John Deere Classic. “Fortunately for me this week, I’ve been doing it better and feel a little bit better. I built some confidence in my game over the last couple of weeks, as just different parts of my game are starting to work better, and that’s what you want to see. Hopefully, it stays that way over the weekend and beyond.”

Camilo Villegas of Colombia, who tied for second last week in the World Wide Technology Championship in Los Cabos, Mexico, had four birdies on each nine in a bogey-free 63 and is three shots behind in solo fourth.

Said Villegas, who has won four times on the PGA Tour but not since the 2014 Wyndham Championship: “Two good rounds to get started, same as last week. Two good rounds to get started and we’re only halfway there, but we’ll keep playing.”

Brendon Todd, who won the Bermuda title in 2019, made seven birdies in a 66 and is four down in a huge tie for sixth with Akshay Bhatia of Northridge, who birdied four of the first five holes in another 66; Stewart Cink, the 2009 Open champion at Turnberry in Scotland, who made five birdies on his first 10 holes en route to a 67; Matti Schmid of Germany, who had a bogey-free 67; Doc Redman, who made four birdies on his last nine in a 66, and D.A. Points, who birdied five of his first eight holes to kick-start a 67.

Brian Gay, who this tournament in 2020 and now plays mostly on the Champions Tour, birdied three of first five holes on the way to a 68 and is tied for 39th, while Lucas Herbert of Australia, who claimed the Bermuda title in 2021, birdied two of the last three holes to salvage a 71 and is tied for 61st.

Seamus Power of Ireland was unable to defend the title from his second PGA Tour victory and seventh at a professional last year, as he continues to battle a hip injury.

This is the sixth of seven events on the PGA Tour’s inaugural Fall Series, which will conclude next week with the RSM Classic on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons, Ga.

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