Thursday, January 18, 2018
Golf

Spieth finds leaderboard, trails Crane by 1 at Byron Nelson

IRVING, Texas — For Jordan Spieth, it only seems as if it has been a while since he topped a leaderboard. For Ben Crane, it actually had been.

Crane shot 7-under 63 Friday at the Byron Nelson to take the second-round lead at 12-under 128. He was one stroke ahead of a quartet of players that included Spieth, playing only his second tournament since squandering a five-stroke lead on the back nine when trying to win his second consecutive Masters.

Spieth was alone in the lead for a bit while playing in the morning, but after finishing his round of 65, he was tied at the top with Brooks Koepka (64) and Bud Cauley (65). First-round co-leader Sergio Garcia also joined them after 66 later in the day.

"It hasn't been that long," said Spieth, speaking before Crane's afternoon round. "The Masters felt like it was quite a while ago and that's why it almost feels like … I'm getting the questions, 'Was it nice to have your name back on top?' Well, I mean (it was) two tournaments ago."

The last time Crane had led a tournament was going wire to wire to win at Memphis two years ago, the last of his five PGA Tour victories and his last top-10 finish. This is his 48th tournament since.

Crane, who turned 40 in March, took the lead after six birdies in an eight-hole stretch during the afternoon, including a 70-footer from a greenside bunker at the par-4 third hole, his 12th of the day, to get to 10 under for the tournament. He initially took the outright lead with a 3-foot birdie putt at the par-4 sixth.

"I've been struggling really for three years now, but intermittent bits of encouragement," Crane said. "This has been one of those weeks where I feel like my game is really coming around."

His only bogey came on his 17th hole Friday, the 463-yard eighth hole where his first two shots found the primary rough before his 16-foot par chance curled under the cup. Crane had two-putted from 50 feet on the previous hole to save par and regained the outright lead with his final stroke of the day, a 14-foot birdie putt to match the best 36-hole score in the tournament's history.

"A great way to finish and just kind of good continuation of all the good stuff that was happening throughout the day," Crane said.

D.A. Points had nine birdies and a bogey through 13 holes, then parred the last five holes to finish his 62, the best round of the day and nine strokes better than his first round.

CHAMPIONS: Kenny Perry shot 2-under 70 to maintain a one-stroke lead over Bernhard Langer and Billy Andrade at the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Ala. Perry had three birdies and a bogey to reach 10-under 134 in the first of the year's five majors for the seniors. Conditions changed after his bogey-free opening 64. Tournament officials opted for a two-tee start because of weather concerns, with Perry and Langer starting on the 10th tee. The course received 0.14 inches of rain overnight and in the morning, forcing a 30-minute delay to start. Langer had 69 and Andrade 68.

LPGA: So Yeon Ryu had six birdies in an eight-hole stretch and shot 7-under 64 to take the second-round lead at the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. She was at 7-under 135. Stacy Lewis (66), Amy Yang (67) and first-round leader Mika Miyazato (71) were a stroke back.

PGA EUROPE: Masters champion Danny Willett shot 1-under 71 for a share of the lead at the Irish Open in Straffan, leaving home favorite Rory McIlroy a stroke back. Willett matched Mark Warren (66) at 8-under 136. McIlroy shot 70.

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