CROMWELL, June 21 – The last time that Zach Sucher played at the Travelers Championship, he limped off the course on a Friday afternoon in pain.
He was 30 years old and years of playing sports on an injured ankle had caught up with him. After missing the cut at the Travelers in 2017, Sucher had surgery on his ankle and his knee and couldn’t hit a golf ball for 13 months.
Two years later, Sucher is feeling good. And he is playing well. He had birdies on four of his final six holes Friday to shoot a five-under 65 to take a two shot lead after two rounds of the Travelers Championship
Sucher, 32, had birdies on 13, 15, 16 and 17 to take the lead as he searches for his first PGA career victory. Chez Reavie is two strokes back at nine-under par (131) with Keegan Bradley tied for second at two strokes back, too.
Ryan Miller, who shot a 64 Friday, and Bronson Burgoon are three shots back at 132 with Paul Casey in the hunt at 133, four shots off the pace. Defending champion Bubba Watson, who seeking a shot at a fourth Travelers’ championship win, is in range at 135, six strokes behind. Watson had six birdies including four straight to start the back nine.
Former tournament champions Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth both missed the cut. Michelson shot a 76 in the second round while Spieth was hurt by a 73 on day one and a 69 on day two.
The 36-hole cut came at 2-under 139, with 82 players advancing to the weekend. The first twosome on Saturday will start at 7:15 a.m., with the final pairing of Sucher and Reavie going off at 1:55 p.m.
“Yesterday, I drove it really well,” Sucher said. “Today my driver struggled a bit on the front nine, which was the back nine. After that, I kind of fixed it. On the front nine, I putted really well and made a few good saves.”
“I just feel a lot better in my game right now,” he said. “After being out a year and a half (with an) injury, this year in general, I have felt a whole lot better.”
This is just Sucher’s fourth PGA Tour event of the season.
His injury story began in Alabama in high school when he had ankle injuries. But he continue to play.
“Playing basketball in high school I had ankle injuries. I pretty much knew I messed everything up in my ankle, but it was starting to come up the whole left side,” he said. “My knee was giving me all kinds of trouble. I had a torn tendon in there, the cartilage was damaged. It was just all stress from repeatedly swinging and not being able to turn on the ankle, which was causing the knee to hurt and wearing it down.
“(Doctors) fixed two ligaments and a tendon in the ankle which took forever to heal. (For a ) solid 13 months I wasn’t able to hit a golf shot. It was kind of nice to be home with the family, but it was — I missed golf a lot,” he said.
“It’s nice,” Sucher said. “This is the first year I can remember in a long time where I’m pain-free and it’s feeling really good. It’s nice to be out here.”
Playing in the final group on Saturday on the PGA Tour will be a new challenge for Sucher. He has played in the final several times on the Korn Ferry Tour.
“It will be a little bit of a different feeling being in the final group of a PGA event,” he said. “It will be a new feeling. After the first few swings, I’ll settle in and hopefully be good to go.”
Sucher will be playing with Reavie, who played in the rain on Thursday afternoon and again on Friday morning. The sun finally came out on Friday afternoon but Reavie was drying off the clubhouse by that point.
“I hit the ball well the last two days, but more importantly I thought my way around the golf course really well, especially today with the wind and the rain, and fortunately didn’t make a bogey,” he said.
Reavie remained poised despite the weather.
“You’re taking your umbrella out; you’re getting under the umbrella; you’re trying to work with your caddie; trying to clean your balls in the fairway, he said. “(The weather) throws your rhythm off, but you have to take that extra second and stay patient.”
Jason Day had the lowest round of the day with a 63.
“We had a lot of on-off rain today. Felt like it was coming in waves. It would stop for a little bit and then it would rain again,” Day said.
“You know, I’ve just been practicing very, very hard trying to be disciplined over the last few weeks just to get my speed right. Granted, they feel a little bit similar to what we had last week so that’s a plus.”
Casey enjoyed watching Day’s 63. “The main thing is not to get beaten up by (the rain) or not get down,” Casey said. “The golf course is so playable still because the surfaces are so good. Jason Day just proved that. 63 in off-and-on rain today is spectacular golf.”