The harsh winds on the finishing holes at Harbour Town Golf Links befuddled the best on a blustery Friday, but they couldn’t stop a locked-in Patrick Cantlay.
With the winds howling at up to 20 miles per hour across Pete Dye’s track, the reigning FedEx Cup champion rattled off an incredible four straight birdies on holes 15 through 18 to close out a second-round 67 at the RBC Heritage Presented By Boeing and grab a two-stroke lead at 9-under par heading into the weekend.
“Obviously, that’s a dream finish,” Cantlay said. “I finally rolled in some putts, and that was really nice to see going into the weekend. It was a tough day out there, and I figured any round under par or around even par would be a win for today. So finishing how I did puts me in a great spot for the weekend.”
Robert Streb sits alone in second place at 7-under par thanks to a 67 of his own, and five others are three shots back at -6.
2022 RBC Heritage Coverage
After starting out the afternoon hot with three birdies on the front nine, Cantlay dropped a pair of shots on the par-four 11th and the tricky par-three 14th. But the sixth-ranked golfer in the world turned it on over the last four holes to emerge at the top of a crowded leaderboard. Cantlay showcased his elite approach game down the stretch, nailing a birdie on the par-5 15th before sticking a pair of iron shots on a breezy 16th and 17th to storm in front of the pack. He punctated the memorable finish with a dazzling 20-foot putt on 18 to the approval of a sold-out Harbour Town crowd.
Cantlay made a brutally difficult course look easy and cemented his name as the tournament favorite going into what could be a rain-filled weekend. It’s no surprise to see Cantlay with the 36-hole lead at Harbour Town, as the 30-year-old has recorded three top-10 Heritage finishes in his last four tries. Cantlay will be gunning for his seventh career PGA TOUR victory and his first of the 2021-22 season after dropping a playoff to Masters champion Scottie Scheffler at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“This is a golf course I really like and have played well on,” Cantlay said. “I’ve been hitting the ball well and just need to roll in a few putts like I did at the end today. I think [the key is] just staying with my game plan and continue to leave the golf ball in the right spots, which is paramount around this place.”
But there are a cluster of other names well within striking distance heading into moving day. After quietly putting up a solid 3-under 68 on Thursday, Robert Streb did one better on Friday, taking advantage of the three par 5s with a trio of birdies and finishing his day with a beautiful approach shot on the par-4 eighth to take sole possession of second place at 7-under par.
“I felt like I was just kind of doing my best to flight it and keep it in front of me,” Streb said. “Gave myself some looks, which sometimes can be tough around here with the small greens and the wind. If I can just kind of find a way to just flight the driver around and maybe hit a few wedges close, it’s pretty helpful.”
Five more will go into Saturday just three shots behind Cantlay, including Cameron Tringale, Erik van Rooyen, and Joel Dahmen all with matching 67s alongside Aaron Wise and first-round leader Cameron Young. After a blazing-hot start on Thursday at 8-under par, Young cooled off in the challenging conditions with a 2-over 73. With still 36 holes to play, there’s still plenty of time for someone lurking behind to make a run, and 21 golfers will enter the third round just five strokes or less off the pace. Joaquin Niemann, Jordan Spieth, and 2014 Heritage champion Matt Kuchar all have the potential to make a climb at 5-under par.
A total of 71 players earned the right to stay for the weekend at even par or better, including past champions Stewart Cink and Webb Simpson as well as Savannah native Brian Harman, who snuck in right at the cut line. South Carolina’s own RBC Ambassador Dustin Johnson and The Players champion Cameron Smith both fell short by a stroke at 1-over par.
There was some hope for Bluffton’s Bryson Nimmer to hang around after two early birdies Friday morning to get back to 2-over, but the local product’s bid faded quickly with bogeys on 16 and 17 to finish the tournament at 6-over par.