Eagle brace lifts Wise into PGA Honda Classic lead

·3-min read
American Aaron Wise made two eagles on his way to a six-under par 64 to seize the lead after Friday's second round of the US PGA Honda Classic

American Aaron Wise fired his second straight six-under par 64 on Friday to seize a three-stroke lead after the second round of the US PGA Tour Honda Classic.

The 24-year-old South African-born US golfer made two eagles, five birdies and three bogeys to stand on 12-under 128 after 36 holes at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

"Playing great," Wise said. "Off the tee, I've hit it pretty solid and my iron play has been dialed in. I've made so many bonus putts from outside 10 feet I can't complain."

The 64s allowed Wise to match his career-low 36-hole start, set on his way to his only US PGA win at the 2018 Byron Nelson, and match the low 36-hole start in tournament history, set by Dan Pohl in 1989.

"They were different rounds but equally impressive in my eyes," Wise said. "Today I had a couple sparks in there. Yesterday was consistently good golf."

Australia's Matt Jones, who opened by matching the course record on 61, settled for a 70 Friday to share second on 131 with American Brandon Hagy, who shot a bogey-free 62 before about 10,000 spectators allowed under state Covid-19 rules.

"It wasn't like I hit it that much worse. I just didn't make the putts," Jones said. "Overall, I'm satisfied with it. I think it could have been a little better. I'm comfortable with where I am. Another 36 holes out here, it should be fun."

Wise, a runner-up last December at Mayakoba, has a confidence boost for the weekend.

"There's a lot of golf ahead," Wise said. "The most important thing I can take from the first two rounds is a bunch of confidence and let whatever is going to happen happen."

Wise began on the back nine and sank a 24-foot birdie putt on his opening hole. He saved par from just outside six feet at 12 and birdied 13 from just inside the same distance, then answered a bogey at 16 with a 14-foot birdie putt at the par-3 17th.

World number 152 Wise dropped his 7-iron second shot just outside three feet from the cup and eagled the par-5 18th, then answered a bogey at the second by holing a 46-foot eagle putt at the par-5 third.

"This one was just a bonus," Wise said. "It was a good one."

He closed out the round with a 14-foot birdie putt at the ninth.

"It has all kind of clicked into place," Wise said. "I had two amazing days where I didn't do anything bad."

- Hagy on house money -

World number 348 Hagy, who made the field as an alternate without playing a practice round, holed 20-foot birdie putts at 13 and 17 and a 47-foot eagle putt at 18, his ninth hole of the day, then added back-to-back birdies at three and four and again to close the round.

"Very pleased with the round," Hagy said. "I feel like I'm playing a little bit on house money. I just tried to have a good feeling on every shot. I'm thankful for the opportunity."

England's Lee Westwood, runner-up in PGA Tour events the past two weeks, fired a 78 and missed the cut on 148.

Irishman Shane Lowry, the 2019 British Open champion, shot 66 to stand in a fifth-place pack on 133.

Colombia's Camilo Villegas, the 2010 winner, shot 65 to stand six adrift. The South American needs a three-way share of third or better to keep a major medical exemption for the remainder of the season after a shoulder injury while a top-30 effort gives him a limited number of starts.

American Wesley Bryan peeled off his trousers and shoes to play out of a water hazard, but went on to shoot 78 and missed the cut on 152.

js/bb