Nick Taylor of Canada finished 10 strokes worse in round two, but still was atop the leaderboard.
Taylor (pictured) finished off a bogey-free, 11-under par 60 and then shot 70 to share the lead with Andrew Novak in the 72nd WM Phoenix Open, which was halted by darkness for the second straight day after a long rain delay in round one on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Ariz.
The second round will be completed on Saturday morning, before the 36-hole cut is made and the third round is played.
“It’s weird feeling disappointed after a 70, but this morning was pretty hard to follow up,” said Taylor, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour who lost to Scottie Scheffler in a playoff at the WM Phoenix Open two years ago.
“I was grinding a little bit early on, but held it together, made some key up-and-downs early on and it was nice to finish the round under par. It’s just tough to follow up a good round with another one.
“I probably just got a little steery the first couple holes (in round two). Those are probably the hardest tee shots, Nos. 1 and 2, and then the putts just kind of weren’t dropping early. But again, I was proud of how I hung in there.”
Taylor, who became a nation hero when he won the 2023 RBC Canadian Open in a playoff, collected six of his 11 birdies on the back nine in his 60, and made is lone bogey on the first hole in round two before making two birdie on the back nine to record a 36-hole score of 12-under-par 130.
Novak matched that by making four birdies on the first eighth holes in a second straight 65.
“I knew I was close and put a lot of work in the off week, and my coach was here earlier this week,” said Novak, whose only professional victory came in the 2020 Lecom Suncoast Classic on the Korn Ferry Tour said. “My swing finally was in a good place going into this tournament.”
Maverick McNealy of Portola Valley and Stanford shot 65-67—132 and is two strokes behind in solo third, while Doug Ghim opened with 65 and was three-under par through 16 holes in his second round and is three back in fourth.
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the two-time defending WM Phoenix champion, followed a 68 with a bogey-free 66 and is four strokes down in a tie for fifth with two-time PGA champion Justin Thomas, who is at 68-65—134, Cameron Young, who shot 67-67, and Ryan Fox of New Zealand, who opened with a 66 and was three-under through 15 homes in round two.
Charley Hoffman of Poway totaled 67-68–145 and was five shots back in a tie for ninth with Kurt Kitayama of Chico and UNLV, who shot 68-67, Sam Burns, who also was at 68-67, Daniel Berger, who finished the day at 66-69, and Jhonatthan Vegas of Venezuela, who opened with a 67 and was a bogey-free three-under-par through 16 holes in the second round.
Sixth-ranked Wyndham Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion who won the AT&T Pebble Beah Pro-Am last week, was tied for 18th at 72-65—137, ninth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick opened with a 68 and was in a tie for 47th as his second round had not yet started, while 10th-ranked Brian Harman opened with a 71 and was one-under through in round two and in a tie for 61st, and eighth-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal shot 73 in round one and was even par through two holes in the second round and in tie for 102nd.
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