Love Among Second-Round Leaders in Hartford
Love, who was out for two months last year because of neck pain associated with a disk problem, birdied three of his last four holes to join Jonathan Kaye and Briny Baird, who turned in matching 67s, at eight-under-par 132.
'Now that I am healthy and feeling good, my confidence is starting to come back and I'm starting to see some good things,' Love said.
Scott Hoch, who won a head-to-head battle with Love at last year's Western Open, shot 66 to finish in second alongside Kaname Yokoo (68) at seven-under. First-round co-leader Hidemichi Tanaka carded an even-par 70 to slip into sixth place with Len Mattiace (64), David Peoples (65), Carl Paulson (66) and Peter Lonard (68).
After opening with a 68 on Thursday, Love started on the back nine in round two and posted his first birdie with an eight-foot putt at the 12th hole. He came up short of the driveable par-four 15th then overcame a poor chip by rolling in a 30-footer for birdie.
Love collected four more birdies on his way in, including three in a row starting at the sixth hole. He hit only half the greens in regulation in the second round but needed only 21 putts once he got there.
The 38-year-old Love has amassed 14 victories on the PGA Tour, but has notched only one in the last four years -- the 2001 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Although his 2002 started off shaky with five missed cuts in the first 10 starts with no top-15s, Love has played solidly since the Masters with seven straight cuts made and a pair of fifth-place finishes.
'I started off the year expecting big things because I was hurt last year, and maybe came out a little too anxious to try and make up for last year,' he admitted. 'Even though I did win (in 2001), I didn't win as much as I wanted to, so it took me a while to settle down and get into the rhythm of playing.'
Baird, another back-nine starter, sank 25-foot birdie putts at the fifth and seventh holes before moving to eight-under with a 10-footer at the ninth. Kaye's round featured two sets of back-to-back birdies and a bogey when he failed to get up and down from off the fourth green.
Both players are seeking their first win on the PGA Tour.
'Tomorrow is moving day, you kind of put up or shut up on Sunday,' said Baird. 'It's that simple. Golf is a very, very mental sport and there's a reason why it's so difficult to win out here, and it's not because of a lack of ability.'
Mattiace, who earned his first PGA Tour title in 220 career starts at the Nissan Open in February, holed two 40-foot birdie putts and two 25-footers en route to his 64.
'It was probably one of my best putting rounds in a long time,' he said.
Brett Quigley, who shared the lead after 18 holes with Tanaka, shot a one-over 71 to finish at five-under with Scott Verplank (70).
Defending champion Phil Mickelson, coming off a second-place showing in the U.S. Open, followed a 69 with a three-under 67. So did Sergio Garcia, who finished fourth last week at Bethpage State Park. They were among 11 players at four-under 136, four strokes off the pace.
Mexico's Esteban Toledo tied the back-nine tournament record with a six-under 29. He finished with a 64, jumping from 120th after one round to 30th at minus-two.
Notah Begay III, hampered by a bad back since winning here two years ago, suffered two bogeys and a double-bogey Friday but still made the cut -- his first of the season -- at one-under par.
Brett Wetterich produced the largest two-round swing on the PGA Tour this year. He following an opening-round 79 with a tournament-best 63, but missed the cut by one stroke at two-over 142.
Notable players who failed to qualify for the weekend included John Daly, two- time GHO champion Paul Azinger, and David Duval. Duval, ranked No. 7 in the world, missed his fourth cut in his last five starts.
Full field scores from the Canon Greater Hartford Open
Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.
Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.
Rahm (62) fires career low round
The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:
Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)
What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.
Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.
Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.
Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.
Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.
Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm
Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder
Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.
"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."
Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.
Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.
"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."
Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn
There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.
Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.
Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.
Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.
The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.