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Jason Day guides travelers, but Bubba Watson is only one back despite being a driver

CROMWELL, Conn. We now stop to remember Bubba Watson’s neon pink rider, who burst loose in the middle of the turn at the second tea in the Travelers’ Championship on Friday.

If the three-time travel winner is going to be so lucky this weekend, you should also consider the rest of the field in the TPC River Highlands.

Watson recovered after clipping his driver to make birdie at No. 2 en route to a second consecutive 66 that left him down at 8, one hold behind the 36-hole leader. Jason Day.

“It was a perfect shot right in the middle. Chopped it in there and made the putt for birdie,” Watson said wryly. “Ho-hum.”

Day shot 62 for the low score of the day and a chance at his first top-three final in more than three years. The former world no. 1 missed three straight cuts before equaling 44th place at the PGA Championship. He then withdrew from the Memorial with a back injury and did not qualify for the US Open.

Day seemed to be struggling with his back on the course Friday, but he still had eight birdies in a rogue-free round.

“Sometimes, if you have an injury or stiffness, even if you are sick, you can sometimes play nice golf,” he said. “I was lucky not to really come my own way today.”

First round co-leader Kramer Hickok was at 10 under before flying the green on the par-3 16th hole and then sat down three times from 18 feet for a double bow; he finished with a 69 to tie Watson for second place.

Justin gets up and Kevin Kisner each shot 63 and was among seven players who were tied for fourth at minus-7. Satoshi Kodaira, who was 7 down after the first round, shot a 2-over 72 in the second round.

A total of 79 players scored the minus at 2 on the 6,841-meter par-70 course outside Hartford. Just squeaking on the number: defending champion Dustin Johnson and two-time winner Phil Mickelson.

Watson, who won the tournament in 2010, ’15 and ’18, finished Friday morning at no. 10 started and was down for day 1 when he reached the second fourth par-4, 350 meters.

That’s when his driver fell apart – but he did not.

After coming in contact with the ball, Watson’s club head came crashing down from the shaft, landed short of the gallery to the right and left him with a broken shaft in his hands.

“Luckily … it did not reach the crowd, so no one was hurt,” he said. “Nobody in my group knew the ball was. Once you hit, you were focused on where the driver was going.”

Despite a fairly pronounced blur, the ball ends up in the fairway, about 50 yards from the pin. Watson struck to 11 feet and stabbed the hole.

Watson said it was possibly the journey from hot to cold or overuse that caused the club to break right above the hosel where the shaft was attached to the head. His caddy, Ted Scott, tried to pull out the rest of the ashes so the head could be reused; Watson had an emergency manager in his trunk in case of such an emergency.

Rule 4.1 enables Watson to replace the club. After hitting a 3-pointer on the 437-yard, par-4 third, he had his backup in time for the 479-yard, par-4 fourth.

“It’s one of the things that happened before, and I always have a backup. They brought the back to me twice later and I played with it the rest of the day,” he said. “I knew there were only a few drivers left, so it really wasn’t a big deal.”

Watson added birdies on the fifth and sixth holes before hitting a 50-foot birdie at no. 7 to take the lead at 9. He returned the shot with a missed 3-foot on the last hole.

“I tried to get extra if I could,” he said. “Just one of the things that went wrong.”

Bryson DeChambeau shot 66 on Friday and was down 5, one hold better than Brooks Koepka on social media, who had a 67 in the second round. Koepka’s brother, Chase, a minor league tourer, who qualified for the tournament last year but withdrew due to COVID-19 protocols, shot 73 and missed the cut by 3 over.

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