Chile’s Joaquin Niemann and England’s Tom Lewis shot matching rounds of 3-under-par 69 to enter the weekend tied for the lead at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club.
At 10-under 134 after two rounds, they hold a one-shot advantage over Max Homa, Troy Merritt and Chris Kirk. Homa fired a 7-under 65 Friday, tied for the best round of the day with Scotland’s Russell Knox, who is in an eight-way tie for sixth at 8 under.
Neither Niemann nor Lewis has made a bogey through two rounds. Niemann credited an improvement in his putting for that performance.
“I think that’s the best part of my game right now,” he said.
Niemann, 22, only has one PGA Tour win to his name but is ranked No. 30 in the Official World Golf Rankings thanks in part to consecutive second-place finishes in the Tour’s two Hawaiian events in January.
Niemann has 16 career top-10s on tour, compared to just two for Lewis. But the 30-year-old Englishman does have a pair of wins at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.
“I’ve obviously won on most tours all around the world, and this is obviously the hardest tour to play on and to win on, but I’m a long way away from that,” Lewis said. “If I can, then awesome. My time will come when I’m ready.”
Lewis’ putting was also in top shape, as he tied Niemann at 10 under with several holes to go by reading a difficult 22-foot birdie putt that climbed uphill and traveled back down to the cup.
Homa finished his round with birdies on the final four holes, including putts of 35 and 27 feet on Nos. 15 and 16 and an approach on the last hole that sat down just 10 inches from the pin for a tap-in.
First-round leader Davis Thompson, who tied the course record Thursday with a 9-under 63, took a step backward with a 1-over 73 Friday to land him in the crowd tied for sixth.
Phil Mickelson, after a drawn-out squabble with a Detroit newspaper about an unflattering report related to his gambling history, made the cut line on the number at 3 under and will play the weekend. He shot even-par 72 on Friday.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau went 72-71 to miss the cut at 1 under — just his second missed cut of the season — days after parting ways with caddie Tim Tucker. He declined to speak to media after either of his rounds despite having Rocket Mortgage as a sponsor.
Other big-name players to miss the cut included Webb Simpson (1 under) and Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello (4 over). Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan tested positive for COVID-19 before playing his second round and withdrew.
–Field Level Media