CROMWELL, Conn. – Brendon Todd and Dustin Johnson each shot 61 in the Travelers Championship on Saturday, leaving Todd with a two-stroke lead over the 2016 US Open champion.
The 34-year-old Georgian, playing a couple of holes behind Johnson, had a shot at the second tournament of the week 60 but missed a 10-foot putt left on the 18th hole.
MORE: Live Traveler Championship Leaderboard
He finished with a 54-hole score of 192 after shooting 66-65 the first two rounds. Johnson, who is looking for his 21st tour victory, has also improved every day, opening with a 69-64.
Both golfers fired ghost-free rounds, with Todd making five birdies in the front nine and Johnson five in the back. Todd said the round became an all you can do game, I can do it too.
“It’s hard to overlook the leaderboards obviously, so (Johnson’s) name was there from a fairly early point,” Todd said. “Again, I just use it as motivation to go out and do more birdies.”
Todd is looking for his third win of the season, but the first since the fall, when he went flat on his back at the Bermuda Championship and Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.
“Every time I have a two or three week period in a row, I tend to play better in the end,” he said. “That’s something I’m using to my advantage now after missing two cuts. It peaked in the third week and I hope I can do it tomorrow. “
Despite going 9 low for the day, Johnson regretted missing several birdie opportunities and the eagle attempt in the ninth par 4, when his ball came to a halt six inches from the pin.
Only two of his birdie stands, an 18-footer on the 10th hole and a 21-footer on the 12th day, were longer than 9 feet.
“I really felt like I was controlling the distance with my irons really well and hitting tons of good shots,” he said. “She had a lot of really good birdie looks.”
Kevin Streelman shot a 63 after two consecutive rounds of 66 and had only three shots behind. Mackenzie Hughes, who led after a 60 on Thursday, shot his second consecutive 68th for exclusive possession of fourth place.
“Today, if I had played the way I did the first day, I could have shot 60 under insurance,” Hughes said. “Play the same thing I did today, jump on the green and throw some putts and it will be amazing.”
Bryson DeChambeau and Kevin Na each shot 65 and tied for fifth with 197.
Phil Mickelson, who celebrated his 50th birthday last week, started the day with a one-hit lead, but struggled, finishing tied for seventh in a group of six shots behind. He made his second bogey of the week on the third hole and also dropped the punches on the seventh and the 13th before finishing with a 71.
Mickelson, looking for his 45th and third victory this year, has struggled. He missed the cut in his three previous tournaments.
“I haven’t played very well this year,” he said. “I’ve lost a lot of cuts, and the next thing I know, my game is starting to come back and I can feel it.” I played two great rounds, and this is really a lot of fun. “
Top ranked Rory McIlroy, who opened the tournament with a 63, said he feels he is too far away to compete for the title after rounds 68 and 69. He pitched two of his last four holes: his tee shot landed on the water in the 15th hole of the field and also bogey at 18, ending in a group of eight shots behind.
“I guess if I could have sneaked a few more times in the last few holes, hitting 14th and suddenly you feel like you’re right. But I went the other way in those last holes, and that’s what got me out of it, “he said.
Jason Day requested to be tested for COVID-19 on Saturday morning, just before his round. Authorities decided to play as a bachelor on Saturday as a precaution. He shot a 69 and is 1 under par heading for Sunday.
There have been seven COVID-19 related recalls from the Connecticut event.
Two players withdrew due to the coronavirus on Friday: Denny McCarthy for a positive test, and Bud Cauley, who tested negative but decided to withdraw after playing alongside McCarthy on Thursday.
McCarthy was the third PGA Tour player to test positive for the virus since his restart and the second this week, joining Cameron Champ, who retired Tuesday.
Nick Watney retired just before the second round of the RBC Heritage Championship last week. Webb Simpson, Graeme McDowell, Brooks Koepka and his brother Chase also withdrew from the Travelers after coming into contact with people who had the virus.
McDowell and Brooks Koepka Caddies tested positive. Simpson cited the positive test from a family member.
The PGA said that due to positive testing this week, players, caddies and anyone else “in the bubble” will not be able to enter the property in future tournaments until it is removed for the first time with a negative test for the coronavirus.
Authorities said Saturday that all follow-up tests as a result of potential contact with McCarthy were negative.
The round started early in the day due to threatening weather, with golfers abandoning both the first and tenth shirts. It ended just before the sky opened. A forecast for more rain on Sunday will mean another early start.