Unheralded Sucher seizes Travelers Championship lead

New York (AFP) –


Zack Sucher pulled away atop a crowded leaderboard on Friday at the Travelers Championship, taking a two-shot lead as he battles to regain his US PGA Tour status.

"Absolutely, it feels great," said the 32-year-old who has played mainly on the Korn Ferry Tour -- the developmental circuit formerly known as the Web.com Tour. "A lot of work to be done, but right now it's feeling great."

Sucher, part of a six-way tie for the lead on Thursday, had an eagle and four birdies in his five-under par 65 and was two strokes in front of 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley and Chez Reavie, who finished in a tie for third at the US Open last week.

Knee and ankle injuries forced Sucher out of his second US PGA Tour season in 2017. He sought a medical extension and after surgery to repair two ligaments and a tendon in one ankle he says he is finally playing "pain free" although he is still recovering from knee tendon trouble.

"I just feel a lot better in my game right now," said Sucher, who was sidelined for more than a year and is now ranked 505th in the world. "After being out, just this year in general I've felt a whole lot better.

"This will be a little bit of a different feeling being in the final group of a PGA event," added Sucher, who has been in contention "plenty" on the developmental tour. "After the first few swings I'll settle in and be hopefully good to go."

Reavie and Bradley both carded four-under par 66s on the par-70 TPC River Highlands course in Cromwell, Connecticut.

It was a further stroke back to Americans Bronson Burgoon and Ryan Moore on 132, with Australian Jason Day and England's Paul Casey in a group tied at seven-under 133.

Former world number one Day, playing his second tournament since securing the services of Tiger Woods' former caddie Steve Williams, had seven birdies in his seven-under 63.

"It was disappointing to shoot even par yesterday because I know I played a lot better than the actual scored showed," said Day, who had four birdies in a row in his outward nine. "To capitalize on the opportunities that I had out there today, I definitely need it."

World number one Brooks Koepka, flirting with the cut line early in his round after an opening bogey, birdied five of six holes from the third through the eighth in a four-under 66 that saw him make the weekend at three-under.

But those who failed to make the cut included former world number one Jordan Spieth -- whose second-round 69 still left him two-over -- and five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, who had two double bogeys in a six-over 76.