SÉAMUS POWER had to fight to keep his victory hopes alive in the Sony Open but Graeme McDowell’s gallant 66 was in vain as missed the cut by a single shot in Hawaii.
ower overcame a scrappy start to card a two-under 68 that left him in an 11-man log-jam for fifth place on nine-under at Waialae Country Club.
He goes into moving day six shots behind Russell Henley, who added a 63 to his opening 62 to lead by three shots at halfway from the resurgent Haotong Li (65) on 15-under, but pleased to hang around the lead.
“Today was a bit of a struggle, to be honest, especially early on,” said Power, whose run of bogey-free holes ended after 73 in a row when he drove into water left at the second to drop his first shot since the final hole of the first round of last week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.
“I hit a couple of very loose shots, made a couple of bogeys and was able to recover and kind of turn into a couple under. Kind of kept me in it to some extent, but yeah, just a couple of things to tidy up there afterwards.”
Power lost control of his ball flight early on but still chiselled out his sixth sub-70 score in a row with no little skill.
He birdied the third, short-sided himself in a bunker and bogeyed the 204-yard fourth but then played his last 10 holes in three-under-par.
After two-putting the par-five ninth from 40 feet to turn in level par, he birdied the 12th from seven feet, then got up and down from 94 yards for par at the 13th after a wayward drive, holing an eight-footer there before chipping to 18 inches at the 18th to set up a closing birdie four.
“It was loose early,” Power admitted. “I just lost control of my flight there and it cost me a couple of shots. So if we can get that back and give myself a few extra chances over the weekend, that’s the plan.”
The West Waterford star (34) could go to 31st in the world with a win or break into the world’s top 50 with a top-four finish but he knows he faces a tough examination if the wind blows.
“I didn’t miss too many fairways today but you get punished pretty quickly,” he said. “Course is in great shape. Rough is up and nasty. I didn’t miss too many fairways today but you get punished pretty quickly.
“It’s going to be interesting, especially if the wind blows over the weekend. With the wind down, obviously it kind of counters a heavy rough. But it is in great shape. Greens are lovely.”
McDowell (42) overcame a double-bogey six at the second and made six birdies in a 66 to get to four-under only to miss his fourth cut in a row in the wraparound season by a single shot.
“I got a really weird lie in the trap on two for my second and had a big lump of sand on it and the ball came out sideways and went right,” McDowell said.
“I hit my greenside bunker shot kind of thin and it shot across the other side of the green and I made six so I was disappointed there.
“But I was really happy to come back and make six birdies in the next 16 holes to give myself a long afternoon and probably a sweaty long afternoon to miss by one [joking], but fingers crossed.”
Henley, who held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds of the US Open last June before finishing tied 13th behind Jon Rahm, bookended each nine with eagle threes.
The Georgia native (32) won his maiden title by capturing the Sony Open in 2013 but has since won just twice more with his most recent win coming in the Shell Houston Open five years ago.
Two-time European Tour winner and Haotong Li has fallen to 460th from a career-high of 32nd in the world in 2018, when he was third behind Jordan Spieth in The Open at Royal Birkdale, is showing signs of a return to form.
The Chinese star (26), who contended for the 2020 PGA Championship at Harding Park, followed an opening 63 by making six birdies in a five-under 65 to sit alone in second place.
Matt Kuchar, the 2019 champion at Waialae, went bogey-free for the second day running, adding a 65 to his opening 64 to lie third on 11-under, four behind Henley.
Two-time PGA TOUR winner Michael Thompson was fourth on 10-under after a 67 with Power tied for fifth with Stewart Cink, Corey Conners, Adam Svensson, world amateur No 1 Keita Nakajima, Riley Davis, Dylan Wu, Brandt Snedeker, Patton Kizzire, and Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama on nine-under-par.