BLAINE (FOX 9) - Bryson DeChambeau kept things pretty simple this week when it came to his preparation for the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine.
Hit the fairway whenever possible, find the green and make some putts. Take advantage of the par-5s when you can, and let the natural skill take over. DeChambeau, 25 and the No. 8-ranked player in the world, did all that and more on Friday.
In muggy conditions and nearly no wind to battle, DeChambeau fired a career-low 9-under par 62 on Friday. He's at 14-under par for the tournament after 36 holes, and will be in the final pairing on Saturday with a two-shot lead. He was bogey-free on Friday and carved up the front nine at TPC Twin Cities, which is supposed to be the more difficult of the two 9s, with a 6-under par 29.
So how did DeChambeau prepare for the inaugural 3M Open? He played each nine once, and spent some time on the range. Even he was a little surprised by how well round two went.
"Certainly not 9, but it's obviously nice when you can make some putts that you weren't thinking you were going to make and get you to a place you haven't been before," DeChambeau said. "Everything else felt like just a pure rhythm and a very smooth day out there."
His lead is two shots after Adam Hadwin shot a 5-under par 66 to finish at 12-under par for the tournament before the weekend.
Scott Piercy, who shot a 9-under 62 of his own in the first round Thursday, had an adventurous second round and finished with a 1-under par 71 and sits at 10-under par with three other players. Piercy started his round on the back nine, which featured a stretch of four bogeys in five holes, an eagle on No. 12 and a bogey six on No. 18 to finish the side at 2-over par 38.
Piercy shot a much cleaner 3-under par 32 on the front nine, and didn't speak to the media after his round as he was battling an illness. One of the three players tied with Piercy at 10-under is Sam Saunders, a grandson of the late Arnold Palmer, who helped Tom Lehman design TPC Twin Cities. Saunders fired a 4-under par 67 on Friday.
Charles Howell III should be an afternoon contender on Saturday. He shot a 5-under par 66 on Friday and is at 8-under for the tournament, six shots behind DeChambeau. He had a front row seat for the 62, playing in the same group. Howell has enjoyed his 3M Open experience through 36 holes.
"It's fantastic, the golf course is awesome," Howell said. "It's a wonderful event, just like last week, the two new events have just been fantastic."
Lehman followed up his Thursday 67 with a 2-under par 69 on Friday. He's at 6-under par for the tournament, and the 60-year-old will be among the weekend competition. Lehman had two bogeys, including the first hole, and two birdies on the front nine to shoot an even-par 35. He had birdies at Nos. 11 and 12 on the back nine to finish at 2-under par 34 on the back nine.
He's eight shots off the lead, tied for 36th, heading into Saturday's play. Not bad for the 60-year-old.
"My goal for the week was to be here playing four rounds, so I feel good about the fact that I accomplished that," Lehman said. Now it's actually the kind of thing where if I can play a good round tomorrow, I can actually get myself in a position where I could have a good finish."
Wayzata native Tim Herron shot a 3-over par 74 to finish at 5-over par for the tournament, missing the cut. Herron had quite the thrill in Thursday's first round with a hole-in-one on the par-3 8th.
The other Minnesota native in the field, Troy Merritt of Spring Lake Park, is one of 12 players at 8-under par for the tournament. He shot a 7-under par 64 on Friday to get himself comfortably into the weekend. He started his day on the back nine with six birdies, four straight at one point, and shot 30.
Merritt, who now lives in Idaho, has several friends and family in town watching him play. He said after the round he was heading to Target Field Friday night to watch the Twins host the Texas Rangers.
"Yeah, I have a lot of family and friends here. I live 1,500 miles away right now, but knowing the area, kind of knowing where to go and seeing a lot of familiar faces, it's been nice," Merritt said. "We don't get that most weeks."
Brooks Koepka, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, shot a 1-over par 72 on Friday and finished just inside the cut line at 3-under par after a first-round 67. Koepka made some headlines after Thursday's round, commenting on ball marks and divots on the course that made it look like TPC Twin Cities had been played a lot this summer.
Other notable names to miss the cut include Phil Mickelson and Herron.