World number one Scottie Scheffler (-19) threatened to make the FedEx finale more of a parade than a contest as he continued to set the pace in the Tour Championships at East Lake Golf Club. The identity of his closest challenger was reversed during the second round with Spaniard John Ram (-13) advancing across the field to take second place before Xander Shaveli (-17) took up the challenge.
It would have been some championships without Schaeffler, the Masters champion, given the dashboard clustered in his house, but he continued to keep his cohorts at arm’s length. Rory McIlroy struggled one day when the goal of capturing the shots remained frustratingly elusive. He finished his second round under third tier and 10 under general.
Given the nature of Thursday’s tethered tee shot in the first round, which disappeared over the fence and off-limits and a precursor to a triple bogey Seven, it was no surprise that McIlroy pushed his opening engine on Friday to the raw right. Despite his shortness, he showed an emphatic touch with a well-weighted chip to ensure equality.
He missed Longbird’s chances in two and four but the failure to convert a 10-foot chance in the third might have upset him a bit. While McIlroy was feeling calm in the scoring terms that others had paid. Ram got off to a fast start with three birds in the first four holes, as did Max Homa who was under five in his round through 11 and eventually shot a 62 to move to the under nine for the championship.
It was the Spaniard who provided Schaeffler’s most enthusiastic pursuit, six birds through the first dozen holes which moved Ram to 12 under the championship. However, Schaeffler still maintained his comfortable six-stroke lead, hitting three shots into the turn.
McIlroy failed to make any progress, and had to rely on his formidable ability to counter faulty leadership. He also couldn’t buy a knockout—he missed quite a few opportunities within 15 feet in marked contrast to his accuracy with the blade in the first round—managing just one birdie through the first 12 holes.
Meanwhile on the DP World Tour it was a disappointing day for the Irish Challenge – play was delayed by three hours due to thunderstorms leaving round two to be incomplete – as none of this group is likely to play this weekend. Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Caldwell (-2) is the closest but his second-round form, 70, left him one shot outside the expected cut-off mark at three under.
David Carey (+2) is a four-shot adrift with eight holes still playing when golf resumes. It was even more evident for the remaining Irish group, with James Sogrow (+3) and Paul Dunn (+4) signing four over 74secs respectively, Niall Kearney (+9) taking 73, while Cormac Sharvin pulled out of the championship after Opening round of 79.
Round one leaders Alejandro Canizares and Triston Lawrence are three shots out of third with four and five holes straight from the second rounds to complete.