Jon Rahm fires ahead on a 63, Henrik Stenson catches up at Hero World Challenge

Henrik Stenson with a 66 and Jon Rahm with a nine-under 63 took charge of the leaderboard at the Hero World Challenge. Dustin Johnson and Patrick Cantlay are at 9-under

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Jon Rahm was impeccable in the second round of the Hero World Challenge

Albany (Bahamas), 30 November 2018: The Sun played hide and seek and wind stayed down, providing for another serene day for golf. Jon Rahm made the most of it, sailing a robust nine-under 63 to the front of the pack at the 20th Hero World Challenge. Henrik Stenson kept it real for Rahm, with a spirited 66 to tie for the lead at 10-under through 36 holes.

There was incident too, on the 18th hole. Tiger Woods landed his drive in the bushes, right of the 18th fairway. There was a rules controversy waiting to unfold as soon as Tiger clawed the ball back to the first cut in what appeared on television as a potential double strike. But golf, rightfully, does not allow for slow motion technology to be used for rulings.

“Driver runs out, and it was between 3?wood and 5?wood and I wasn’t committed to trying to cut a 3?wood,” explained Tiger about the choice of club at the 18th tee box. “In the back of my head, I’m thinking it really looks good for shaping a 5?wood down there.  I didn’t commit to it, stuck it in the ground and it went to the right.”

Soon as he entered the hut after his round, the officials spent a considerable amount of time – nearly twenty minutes – deliberating the stroke, before ruling that it did not deserve a penalty. In the end, Tiger signed on a 69, with three birdies on the front nine and two more on the return stretch, the latter negated by the double bogey at the final hole. The rules officials used Decision 34-3/10 to arrive at the verdict.

“You know, I didn’t feel like I made contact twice.  It was such a short little shot, I was just trying to hit it sideways there.  Under slow motion and high def, you can see that the ball hit the clubface twice, but there’s ?? I don’t know, there is no penalty,” confirmed Tiger. “I’m sure that Mark will get in here and he’ll explain to you better than I can, but the committee, the rules committee went ahead and reviewed it for a while.”

Rahm had no such dalliances. He was smooth off the tee, comfortably on the green and comfortably clean on the three occasions he needed to step on the sand in the bunkers.

I hit it so solid off the tee, I was always in the fairway with a short club in. Besides that, followed by some good iron play. I think the best way to describe it, having five par 5s and two relatively short par 4s out of those seven holes, I got six birdies out of the nine, right?,” implored a delighted Rahm. “So I capitalized on the easier holes today, played really good. Was 3-3 out of sand saves. I just — you know, didn’t seem like much could go wrong. After that putt on 10, I got a lot of confidence and was swinging really aggressively at the pin. 

“You still need to be a little smart because there’s some areas on those greens that you don’t want to go,” he added.

“Like on 10 today, if you hit it anywhere right of the pin, you’re going down to the low, and it’s not like it’s the hardest up-and-down, but you don’t leave yourself an easy birdie chance. And then I was lucky on the tougher holes, like on 12 I was able to hit a really good shot in, so everything worked out today.”

Stenson was equally effective in a polished 66 that moved him to 10-under into a tie for the lead with Rahm. The two men are ahead by one over Dustin Johnson and overnight co-leader Patrick Cantlay. The former, playing with Stenson, shot a 67 while Cantlay settled for a modest 70 in the second round.

 

Tony Finau also played well on Friday, in posting a brilliant 64. He moved into contention at 8-under in the fifth spot.

Overnight co-leader Patrick Reed slipped down the order, making three bogeys and a double on the par-4 7th hole. Incredibly, Reed failed to manage a single birdie on the day. Bubba Watson was the only other golfer who shot over par on Friday, his card reading 73.

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