Rookie Pendrith Shoots 65, Leads Finau by 1 Stroke in Rocket Mortgage Classic

Rookie Taylor Pendrith of Canada obviously enjoys the view from the top of the leaderboard.

The 31-year-old Pendrith, who was tied for the lead after the first round, shot 7-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Tony Finau midway through the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Mich.

Pendrith is playing for only the third time since missing five months because of a broken rib and tied for tied for 13th in the Barbasol Championship and tied for 11th in the Barracuda Championship recently in his first two events back.

“We have a long off-season in Canada, so I didn’t touch a club all winter (in Canada) basically growing up, so I guess I’m kind of used to not playing for a while, in a way,” Pendrith, who is seeking his first PGA Tour victory, said of his long break. “It’s just nice to be back out here and playing well.

“I drove it well hit a lot of nice irons and made a bunch of birdie putts, just like yesterday. I tried to come back a little early a while back and it just didn’t work out, but now I’m feeling well, moving well and playing well.

“I’m not surprised, because I’ve been playing well the last few years and feel I can compete out here.”

Pendrith, who won twice on the PGA Tour Canada in 2019, followed his opening 64 by making four straight birdies to start the second round and added four more the rest of the way against a single bogey at No. 16 while recording a 36-hole score of 15-under 129.

Finau, who was tied for the lead with Pendrith after the first round at 64, collected five of his six birdies on the back nine while carding a 65, his second straight bogey-free round.

“I got off to a little bit of a slow start today, but I could afford to be patient because of the score I shot yesterday,” said Finau, who claimed his third victory in the 3M Open last Sunday. “I made a birdie early, on the second hole, but I had a few other birdie chances that I didn’t make, so I didn’t have any momentum until the back nine.

“Once I made the turn, I was able to make several putts for birdies coming in and really and got that momentum going again, like yesterday. I’ve just been playing well recently and that has continued the last two days.

“I’ve been working very hard for a while and you never know when it’s going to pay off, but for me everything just seems to be coming together late in the season.”

Rookie Lee Hodges, who won the WinCo Foods Portland Open on the Korn Ferry Tour last season, birdied the first four holes in a second straight 66 and is three shots behind in solo third, while Cameron Young, yet another rookie, holed out from 135 yards for an eagle at No. 13 in a bogey-free 63 and is five down in a tie for fourth with Russell Henley, who had a bogey-free 65, and Stewart Cink, who birdied his last three holes for a 66.

Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA totaled 65 with five birdies on the front nine and is six strokes back in a big tie for seventh with Scott Stallings, who birdied the first four holes en route to another 68, Adam Scott of Australia, who had a bogey-free 66, Stephan Jaeger of Germany and Si Woo Kim of South Korea, who both came in at 68, and Sahith Theegala, another rookie from Chino Hills and Pepperdine, who made five birdies on the last six holes of his front nine in a 67.

Two-time major champion Zach Johnson is tied for 13th after a 69, former world No. 1 Jason Day of Australia shot a bogey-free 70 and is tied for 35th, and defending champion Cam Davis of Australia had a 73 and made the cut on the number in a tie for 59th.

Rory Sabatini of Slovakia, the 2021 Silver Medalist in the Olympic Games, made a hole in one on the 162-yard 15th hole while shooting 72 and also made the cut on the number, along with Nate Lashley, the 2019 Rocket Mortgage champion, who finished at 73.

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