Graeme McDowell the lone Irishman standing at Honda Classic
Padraig Harrington missed the cut with Seamus Power also heading home early
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the third tee during the first round of The Honda Classic at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Rookie tour pro Séamus Power was mauled by the Bear Trap’s Par 3 15th hole as a double-bogey five proved extremely costly to the 29-year-old Waterford golfer who ran up a second round 73 for one over par at the Honda Classic which left him one shot outside the cut mark in Florida.
After an opening round 68 on Thursday, Power’s bid to get into contention in the $6 million tournament ran into trouble on the back nine of his second round as bogeys on the 10th and 14th were compounded by that double bogey on the 15th, the opening hole of the infamous finishing stretch known as the Bear Trap.
Of the three Irish players in the field, only Graeme McDowell looked set to make it into the weekend. With the cut set to fall on level par, McDowell carded a round of 67, after an opening round 72 on Thursday to finish one under.
For two-time Honda Classic champion Padraig Harrington, a fifth straight week on the road seemed to be taking its toll on the Dubliner who has been troubled with a trapped nerve in his neck through his stint stateside. Harrington finished five-over for the tournament and will likely undergo surgery in the coming weeks on his shoulder to alleviate the injury.
American Ryan Palmer – who took four months off away from competition at the end of last year to comfort his wife in her battle with breast cancer – claimed the clubhouse lead with a second round 65 for a midway total of 131, nine-under-par. He shares that lead with compatriot Wesley Bryan.
Palmer, who changed putter for the first time in a decade to put a TaylorMade Spider into his bag, has traditionally struggled on the Bear Trap and, prior to this latest visit, possessed one of the worst records on the stretch of Florida real estate: he has played holes 15 to 17 in a combined 38 over par since 2007, the highest score of any active player.
But not this week, as Palmer has emerged unscathed two days running. “Two days in a row, I’m even par on the trap. Keep saying how I’m 38 over par,” Palmer said after a second-round 65. “It’s a daunting task, those three holes. You never know what the winds are doing. … you get out of there in even par, you’ve made ground on the field,” said Palmer, who held a one stroke lead over Rickie Fowler.
Fowler posted back-to-back 66s to reach the midpoint on 132, eight-under-par, after switching the shaft in his driver from a 44 ½ inch one to 43 ½ inch. “I may be giving up a little bit of distance, but, still, I was able to get a few out there, getting it plenty far out there. I feel like I have a bit more control,” said Fowler, who hit 11 of 14 fairways in his second round to move into contention.