Halfway Hut at The Palmetto Championship: DJ hot favourite despite late slip

A round-up of the best stats, quotes and social after two days of this week’s PGA TOUR event at Congaree Golf Club

A double bogey at his final hole suggests Dustin Johnson may still be trying to sort his game out ahead of next week's US Open.

But that frustrating six on the 18th paints an unrepresentative picture of what came before.

For the first 30 holes of this week's Palmetto Championship in his home state of South Carolina, DJ didn't make a single bogey. Not bad on a course where the average score on the par 71 this week is 72.428.

Johnson's streak ended with a bogey at 13. But he'd birdied 11 and 12 just prior to that and added two more par breakers at 15 and 16.

That run took him into a tie for the lead with North Carolina's Chesson Hadley on 11-under before he messed up at 18. The double included a one-stroke penalty after taking relief from an unplayable lie left of the fairway.

No matter, Johnson still dominates the betting and after a run of seven starts without a single top 10, this is a most welcome and timely return to form with Torrey Pines on the horizon.

Johnson is now just Even money with Paddy Power to win the tournament. It's then 4/1 Hadley, 11/1 English, 22/1 Van Rooyen, Power, 25/1 Perez, 28/1 Higgo. Below is a look at how some of the leading contenders were priced up ahead of the tournament.

But while Johnson goes into the weekend in great position to land a 25th PGA TOUR title, Brooks Koepka is packing his bags.

Koepka just didn't have it this week, shooting 72-73 and missing the cut by two.

The leaderboard is a slightly odd mix. Although it contains plenty of Americans, there is also an unlikely Irishman in Seamus Power and a trio of South Africans: Erik van Rooyen, Wilco Nienaber and Garrick Higgo.

This is Nienaber's PGA TOUR debut while Higgo, despite two recent wins in Europe, is also virtually brand new to the American circuit. Nienaber is just 21 and Higgo 22. The future of South African golf looks in very good hands.

Here are the best stats, quotes and social from Congaree Golf Club after two days.

Click here for the leaderboard

Stats and facts

This is Chesson Hadley's first career 36-hole lead on the PGA TOUR in 190 starts. He ranks 192nd this season in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green at -1.002, but is 7th this week at 3.999 per round. Hadley ranks 1st for SG: Putting.

Johnson has bemoaned his putter during his poor recent streak but so far it's behaving. He ranks 19th in SG: Putting. He's also 9th Off The Tee, 5th on Approach, 18th Around The Green and 2nd Tee To Green (9.182)

Nienaber, who sits tied fourth on 6-under - five off the pace - ranks 1st for Driving Distance (361.1 yards). He's also 18th in SG: Putting.

Parker McLachlin, Arjun Atwal and Bo Hoag withdrew during their rounds. Hunter Mahan withdrew before his round


Here's what some of the main protagonists had to say after completing their second rounds.

Dustin Johnson on his Friday 68

"Yeah, I thought it was good. The first 14 holes played extremely difficult, I thought, and I was playing really well. With the wind, the wind was blowing pretty hard, it was real gusty, so it was just really hard to get a good beat on it. I felt like I did a really good job, though, controlling the golf ball.

"I'm pleased with the way I played. Obviously, it's an unfortunate finish, just club slip. It happens. Again, got a little unlucky there not to at least have a swing at it.

"I'm still in a really good position leading into the weekend and still a lot of golf to play, but I feel like I'm playing really well. So got a lot of confidence in what I'm doing."

Leader Chesson Hadley on his performance so far

"I definitely didn't see this coming. I missed all those cuts in a row (four), and thank goodness I had three weeks off just to kind of hit the reset switch, get out on the boat, and just kind of forget about some things and spend some time with some family.

"I did try - I changed a few things during those three weeks. I didn't feel like I played great on Monday for the US Open qualifier, but even between now and then, I changed a few things. So it's nice to hit some good shots, and the putter's hot. So if I can just keep riding the putter, she's a sweet girl. So I'll just ride her until -- you know."

Tain Lee on being 7-under and sitting third after rounds of 67-68

"That's pretty crazy. That's wild. I just kept my head down today. I was trying to make birdies and see what we can do, make the cut first and foremost. Third place going into the weekend, I'll take that for sure, and I'll try to keep my head down and do more of the same."

Harris English on his first 36 holes (T4, -6) and mid-season slump

"Been kind of doing everything well. Really starting with the putter. My speed has been really dialed in all week, making some good six, seven footers, which you're going to get out here. The wind's picking up. Greens are getting fast. It's just tough to leave yourself a lot of putts out here. I feel like I hit the ball well, played the par-5s pretty well today, just kind of had everything clicking.

"I hurt my back at THE PLAYERS. I never really had any back injuries before I had to pull out of THE PLAYERS, and I haven't been 100 percent since then. It's a long year. I know, 31 years old, I'm bound to have a couple injuries. But it's been close. I played well at the Byron Nelson, got 13th, shot 9-under on Saturday. I feel like it's been trending. I had the last couple weeks off to get ready to go, and I've been working with my trainer a lot, working with my swing coach, and just getting my body feeling good again. It's been all good coming into this week, and it's helped."

Wilco Nienaber on his first start on the PGA TOUR

"When I got here at registration, I had no idea what to do. I'm really pleased with what I did the last two days. Growing up watching the PGA TOUR is where I want to be, and it's really nice to start off like I did."

Brooks Koepka on what he got out of the week despite missing the cut

"Reps. That's what I need. I just need tournament reps and trying to hit different shots in competition. I've missed so much of the season just with the knee, where I feel like I'm already a little bit behind.

"Yeah, I like where my game's at. I'm striking it well, putting it well. So I don't see anything wrong. It's just maybe a little lack of focus and maybe -- these weeks before the majors, I start thinking about next week instead of where I'm at. It's not an excuse, but it just needs to be better. I need to be where I'm at currently, even more present in this tournament than thinking about next week.

"My game's in good shape. I know my score doesn't reflect it. I like where it's at. I feel even better than where I was going into the PGA. I'm pretty pleased, pretty happy. Just get ready for next week."


Johnson in cruise control, Nienaber's monster hitting, Poston gets a drenching and Chesson's tribute...

DJ hits the dancefloor

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Nienaber nails a drive

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Pouring down on Poston

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Hadley's sweet gesture

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READ MORE: Can Patrick Reed emulate Tiger Woods and complete a Torrey Pines US Open double next week?

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