Bryson DeChambeau believes he will have to improve to record back-to-back victories, despite battling back from a poor start on Friday to remain firmly in contention in the Players Championship.
DeChambeau, who won the Arnold Palmer Invitational last week, began his second round with a double-bogey six on the 10th, his opening hole of the day, but recovered to card a second successive 69 at TPC Sawgrass.
That left the US Open champion alongside fellow Americans Denny McCarthy, Brian Harman and Charley Hoffman on six under par, a shot behind clubhouse leader Chris Kirk.
“You don’t expect to do that the first hole out,” DeChambeau said of his opening double bogey following a wild tee shot. “I wasn’t feeling as comfortable as I should have been feeling and unfortunately that’s the way my day started.
“I was able to make a nice up-and-down on the next hole to settle it down, hit a close one in there on 13 and kind of was off to the races after that except the drive on 14.
“I’m happy with the fact that I’ve still been able to keep myself in it and score well. I’ve been pretty lucky, for the most part. I don’t think that’ll happen this weekend.
“I’ve got to make sure that my game is good off the tee, so I don’t have those issues occurring and I don’t have to rely on luck for the most part. I have to get it in the fairway.”
Kirk started from the 10th and was level par after five holes, but then carded a hat-trick of birdies from the 15th and holed out from 147 yards for an eagle on the first on his way to a 65.
“I wish I had some revelation of something that I changed and all of a sudden sparked this incredible play, but no, I didn’t change anything,” Kirk said.
“I feel like I’ve been playing very well lately. I feel confident in my game. I knew I was hitting good shots, was hitting good putts, and then all of a sudden I chipped that ball in on 15 and before I knew it I was five, six under. That was a very pleasant surprise for sure.”
McCarthy, who is seeking a first PGA Tour title, made a hole-in-one on the par-three third in his second straight 69, the world number 221 holing out from 165 yards with an eight iron.
“I just had a really good number today to that pin,” McCarthy said. “It was a perfect eight-iron for me and just stepped up there and executed the shot.
“This is really only my second hole-in-one officially and my first one in tournament play, so pretty cool.”
Asked about the prospect of getting his first win in such a prestigious event, McCarthy added: “Obviously it would be amazing. I don’t think I can let myself think too far ahead.
“I got off to a nice start, played two solid rounds. I’ve just got to continue to do that. Obviously it would be special to be holding the trophy at the end of the week.”
Spain’s Jon Rahm was two shots off the clubhouse lead after following up an opening 72 with a 68, with Open champion Shane Lowry two strokes further back after a second round of 74.