Rookie Ben Griffin played in one of the last threesomes of the day, but wound up in first place.
Griffin, seeking his first victory on the PGA Tour, shot a brilliant bogey-free, nine-under-par 63 to take a two-stroke lead over Harrison Endycott of Australia, Luke List, Carl Yuan of China and Henrik Norlander of Sweden after two rounds of the Sanderson Farms Championship at the Country Club of Jackson in Jackson, Miss.
“Eight-under, it was just a great round from start-to-finish,” said Griffin, whose only pro victory came in the 2018 Staal Foundation Open on the PGA Tour Canada. “I hit the ball so well to give myself a lot of birdie chances, and made a bunch of them, and then I got a little lucky with that eagle on No. 14.
“I let a couple of birdie chances get away yesterday, but today almost everything I looked at went in the hole. I just hit a lot of good approach shots and went from there, so it was a really fun day out there, even though I missed another one I could have made at No. 18, but I really can’t complain.
“I’ve played a lot of golf in the last two years, so I took about five weeks off, but then worked really hard last week and it paid off today. But there’s lots of golf to be played and I want to be the one on top at the end of the week.”
Griffin, who opened with a 67 that included only one bogey, made three birdies on the front nine and four more on the back in round two, in addition to that 65-foot eagle putt on the 14th hole to record a 36-hole score of 14-under-par 130.
Endycott collected three birdies on each nine and holed out from 81 yards from the fairway for an eagle at No. 3 while shooting 65, and List made three of his seven birdies down the stretch in a 66, Yuan collected six of his seven birdies on the front nine and his lone bogey on the 18th hole in another 66, and Norlander made three birdies on each nine against one bogey in a 67.
“It’s nice to have a job on the weekend because I was getting sick of flying home on Friday nights,” said Endycott, whose only pro victory came in the 2022 Huntsville Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour. “If you keep doing the right things, scoring will take care of itself. I managed to do that today, stayed calm, and I capitalized by making a few more putts.
“I’m pretty proud of myself the way I managed myself around. I played awful here last year. It’s always nice to come back and play at a place where you haven’t done well at and play well the next time. We’ll go back after it tomorrow.”
Said List: “I birdied the first two holes in the kind of misty rain, which was a nice start. It was kind of tough for the first five, six, seven holes. We were kind of curious if it was going to be like that all day. Fortunately it broke a little bit, and it was still just a little foggy. I wasn’t feeling great with my swing, but I was able to make a lot of putts, which was huge today.”
Harry Higgs birdied five of his first seven holes and four of the last six against one bogey in a 64 and is three shots back in a tie for fifth with first-round leader Chesson Hadley, who made four birdies on the back nine in a 69, Troy Merritt, who holed out from 26 feet on the fairway for an eagle at No. 15 and added five birdies in a bogey-free 65, and Xecheng Dou of China, who had seven birdies and a bogey on a 66.
Erik van Rooyen of South Africa holed his final shot of the day from 112 yards for an eagle at No. 9 and added four birdies in a 68 to tie for 10th with Beau Hossler of Rancho Santa Margarita, who sank an 11-foot eagle putt on the fourth hole to go with five birdies in a 67, Peter Kuest of Fresno, who collected seven birdies in another 67, Scott Stallings, who had six birdies and a lone bogey in another 67, Wesley Bryan, who made four birdies on each nine in a 68, and Christiaan Bezuidenhout of South Africa, who birdied four of the first seven holes in a 69.
Ludvig Aberg of Sweden, the only player in the field who played in the Ryder Cup last week, made four birdies and a bogey in his 69 and is in a tie for 16th that includes Cameron Champ of Sacramento, the 2018 Sanderson Farms winner, who had four birdies on the front nine in another 69, while 2015 champion Peter Malnati is tied for 27th after a 71.
Defending champion Mackenzie Hughes of Canada finished at 70-70—140 to miss the cut by one stroke, while 2017 champion Ryan Armour shot 69-76—145 to miss the weekend by six shots.
For complete results and third-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard