Brendon Todd and Dustin Johnson each shot career-low 61s at the Travelers Championship on Saturday, leaving Todd with a two-stroke lead over the 2016 U.S. Open champion.
The 34-year-old Georgian, playing a couple holes behind Johnson, had a chance at the tournament’s second 60 of the week but missed a 10-foot putt to the left on the 18th hole.
Todd finished with a 54-hole score of 192, 18 under par, after shooting 66-65 the first two rounds. Johnson, who is looking for his 21st win on tour, also has improved each day, opening with a 69-64.
Kevin Streelman fired a 63 after two straight rounds of 66 and was just three shots back. Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., who led after a 60 on Thursday, shot his second straight 68 for sole possession of fourth place.
WATCH | Todd, Johnson light up leaderboard with matching rounds of 61:
“Today if I had putted like I did the first day, I could have shot low 60s for sure,” said Hughes. “Play the same as I did today tee to green and roll in a few putts and it’ll be awesome.”
Hughes dropped into a second-place tie Friday after shooting 68, one day after the best round of his professional career. Hughes made 10 birdies en route to a 10-under 60 to sit atop the leaderboard by three shots over Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland following Thursday’s opening round.
WATCH | Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes 4 shots off lead:
The 29-year-old Hughes had a chance to shoot the 12th sub-60 round in PGA Tour history, but missed a 40-foot putt for birdie on hole No. 9, his 18th hole of the day.
Rogers Sloan of Merritt, B.C., was tied for 61st at 3 under after shooting a 1-over 71 on Saturday.
2nd-round leader Mickelson in tie for 7th
Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Na each shot 65 and were tied for fifth at 197.
Phil Mickelson, who celebrated his 50th birthday last week, began the day with a one-stroke lead but struggled, finishing tied for seventh in a group six shots back. He made just his second bogey of the week on the third hole and also dropped strokes on the seventh and 13th before finishing with a 71.
Todd and Johnson shot bogey-free rounds, with Todd making five birdies on the front nine and Johnson five on the back. Todd said the round became a game of whatever you can do, I can do just as well.
“It’s hard to miss the leader boards obviously, so [Johnson’s] name was up there from a pretty early point,” Todd said. “Again, I just use it as motivation to go out there and make some more birdies.”
Todd is looking for his third win of the season but his first since the fall, when he went back-to-back at the Bermuda Championship and the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.
Several missed birdie chances
“Whenever I get a two- or three-week stretch in a row, I tend to be playing better by the end of it,” he said. “That’s just something I’m using to my advantage now after missing two cuts. I’m peaking in the third week and hopefully I can get it done tomorrow.”
Despite going 9 under for the day, Johnson lamented missing several birdie chances and and eagle attempt on the par-4 ninth, when his ball stopped six inches from the pin.
Just two of his birdie puts, an 18-footer at the 10th hole and a 21-footer on the 12th, were longer than 9 feet.
“I really felt like I controlled the distance with my irons really well and hit tons of good shots,” he said. “I had a lot of really good looks at birdie.”
Top-ranked Rory McIlroy, who opened the tournament with a 63, said he feels he is too far back to contend for the title after rounds of 68 and 69. He bogeyed two of his final four holes — his tee shot landed in the water on the course’s signature 15th hole and he also made bogey at 18 — to finish in a group eight shots back.