Poised Todd enters Saturday in second
On Friday, Brendon Todd was able to get up and down from bunkers on 16 and 17, nailing a tense putt on 16 to save par, one that elicited a first-pump from his caddie.
But he didn’t get too excited.
“Fist-pumping is not really in my nature,” he said, “unless I’m under some kind of immense pressure and it comes out without my controlling it.”
A business-like day at the office helped Todd, a former North Carolina state high school golf champion at Green Hope in Cary, shoot a bogey-free 67 to go to 4-under, six shots behind leader Martin Kaymer, good enough for second place headed into the weekend at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
His total through two rounds would usually be good enough to be leading. In fact, the 36-hole leaders were at 2-under the last time this tournament was here.
“If you asked any player at the beginning of the week if you were 4-under through two days, ‘Would you take it?,’ everybody would say yes,” Todd said.
Todd came into the week on a roll, with a win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, a tie for fifth and a tie for eighth in his last three PGA Tour events. He said on Friday that his first career win taught him a lot.
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“When I play well, I can contend out here and the things that got me playing well to win, I’ve been able to keep doing, which is chip the ball a little bit better,” he said. “If I can continue to do those things, that’s going to help me shoot lower scores.”
Todd is one of the better scramblers on Tour, a trait good to have at Pinehurst with its hard-to-hit greens. And to go bogey-free - that’s a rare sight this weekend, as Kaymer was the only other player near the top of the leaderboard to do that.
He’s also hit 69 percent of the greens in regulation, another key statistic at Pinehurst where avoiding the unpredictable native grass is key. Todd said he felt “comfortable,” an unfamiliar word for a lot of pros this week (except for Kaymer, perhaps), on the course “from start to finish” on Friday.
That comfort might have to do with his experience in the area. Todd played in junior golf tournaments in Pinehurst growing up, even competing some with Raleigh native Webb Simpson.
“I think there’s familiarity with the area,” he said. “I’ve played pretty much all my competitive golf in the southeast of the U.S., so I’m really comfortable on Bermuda grass. I feel really good on this course, the surface.”
For a guy who just won his first PGA Tour event a month ago and is in contention at his first major tournament, Todd seems to be really content with where he’s standing right now, even with the six-shot deficit staring him in the face.
“I don’t think I’ll change anything,” he said. “I hope to get a little bit better every day. What Martin does really doesn’t affect what I do until maybe the back nine on Sunday. We’re going to go out and do our best. And hope he doesn’t play his best brand of golf.”
Don’t think he’s forgotten the weight of the moment. He’s just trying to keep a level head.
“Yes, I’ve definitely made an effort the last two days to pay attention to the fact that I’m playing in my first major in a place that I hold close to my heart,” he said. “But at the same time, I feel like I’ve gone about my business just like always. My caddie and I are very disciplined out there. We’ve really done a good job so far.”