Atlanta - Henrik Stenson fired a
two-under-par 68 on Friday to pad his lead at the $8.25 million Tour
Championship to three shots over a charging Jordan Spieth.
Stenson, owner of a two-stroke lead after
his first-round 63, was pleased with his effort on a rain-soaked East Lake
course that yielded few low scores.
His nine-under-par total of 131 put him
three clear of Masters and US Open champion Spieth, whose bogey-free four-under
66 was the round of the day and put him at six-under 134 through 36 holes of
the US PGA Tour finale.
"I didn't feel like it was my best
day, but I managed to keep it together and two-under around here is never
bad," said Stenson, adding that the drizzly weather made for tough playing
The average score on Friday was 71.6 and
the second round produced just four rounds under par.
"Today was a difficult day, it was a
difficult golf course for sure," Stenson said. "It played much, much
longer ... I saw Jordan shot 66 - which was a great round."
After a steady seven pars to open his
round, Spieth warmed up with back-to-back birdies at the eighth and ninth.
After a birdie at the par-five 15th, the
22-year-old American capped his round with a birdie at the par-three 18th - where he drained a 20-footer.
But Spieth said it was a handful of par
saves that really made his round. That included a 17-footer for a par save from
a bunker at the par-three sixth, and a gutsy save from the rough at the fifth.
"It was huge," Spieth said,
noting that his third shot through a tree at the fifth "wasn't necessarily
smart" but was still the best option.
"And I had to have the wind blowing
this branch back and forth, I had to hit it when it blew it this way or else it
would have gone up into it," he said.
England's Paul Casey was alone in third
despite a bogey at the last that gave him a 70 for 135.
British Open champion Zach Johnson
completed a roller-coaster of a 70 that included a double-bogey and four bogeys
as well as six birdies for 136.
He was one stroke in front of world number
two Rory McIlroy (71) and Australian Steven Bowditch (69).
In addition to the $1.48 million tournament
winner's prize, players in the elite field are chasing the $10 million bonus on
offer to the winner of the FedEx Cup playoff series.
Stenson and Spieth are among the top five
players in the standings who are assured of nabbing the bonus with a win - as
are newly minted world number one Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson.
Day, who supplanted McIlroy atop the world
rankings after his victory in the BMW Championship last Sunday, struggled to
get anything going.
He had two birdies and three bogeys in a
one-over 71 that gave him a share of ninth place on 140.
Stenson, the 2013 playoff champion, is
trying to join Tiger Woods as the only players to win the FedEx Cup twice, and
he was quietly confident he could keep up his bid for a first title of the
season on a course that seems to suit him.
"It sets up well for solid iron play,
and I seem to bring that," Stenson said, although he's expecting a stiff
test from Spieth, and perhaps others, on the weekend.
"I've got to focus on my game and
bring my game and keep my head down and foot down and press on if I want to
leave the guys behind me," Stenson said.Second-round scores on Friday in the $8.25 million US PGA Tour
Championship, final event in the FedEx Cup playoff series (USA unless
noted, par 70):
131 - Henrik Stenson (SWE) 63-68
134 - Jordan Spieth 68-66
135 - Paul Casey (ENG) 65-70
136 - Zach Johnson 66-70
137 - Steven Bowditch (AUS) 68-69, Rory McIlroy (NIR) 66-71
138 - Justin Rose (ENG) 70-68
139 - Rickie Fowler 69-70
140 - Jason Day (AUS) 69-71, J.B. Holmes 68-72, Brandt Snedeker 68-72
- Matt Kuchar 71-70, Bubba Watson 70-71, Dustin Johnson 69-72, Danny
Lee (NZL) 69-72, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 69-72, Kevin Na 68-73
142 - Daniel Berger 69-73, Brooks Koepka 68-74
143 - Bae Sang-Moon (KOR) 73-70
144 - Jimmy Walker 73-71
145 - Charley Hoffman 73-72, Bill Haas 72-73
146 - Patrick Reed 72-74
147 - Scott Piercy 74-73, Harris English 71-76
150 - Robert Streb 75-75
153 - Kevin Kisner 76-77
WD - Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)
DNS - Jim Furyk