HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.c.
Kevin Streelman looks ready to make contending at PGA Tour events a habit, while Brandt Snedeker was poised for an early exit at the RBC Heritage in the rain-delayed second round Friday.
Streelman, who won his first tour title last month at the Tampa Bay Championships, shot a 1-under 70 before the wind picked up at Harbour Town Golf Links. He was tied at 6 under with Charley Hoffman and 34-year-old rookie Steve LeBrun.
Hoffman, like Streelman, followed an opening 66 with a 70. LeBrun shot his second straight 68.
Luke Donald and Bill Haas were a stroke back. Donald had a 68, and Haas shot 69.
The biggest surprise was Snedeker, at No. 5 the highest-ranked player in the field. Days after leading the Masters on Sunday before faltering, the 2011 Harbour Town winner opened with a 73 and had a 71 Friday to finish at 2 over — one over the projected cut line.
Warren JFK graduate Jason Kokrak followed his first-round 76 with a 68, but was still in danger of missing the cut. He’s also at 2 over.
Seventeen players were unable to finish. The rain was forecast to continue overnight before the front moves out to sea and brings cooler temperatures — but no rain.
Streelman had three birdies in his first four holes. He added a final birdie on the par-5 15th and parred out to move on top and put himself in contention on the tricky, narrow fairways and small greens of Harbour Town.
Streelman’s life hasn’t changed much since the victory in Tampa Bay, just his approach to the game.
“I do feel a bit freer to be in the position I am, say, in a week like this,” he said. “Because I’m not worried about a top 10 or a top 5 or keep your card. And I can just go out and try and win a golf tournament.”
The attitude worked for Streelman at the RBC Heritage, where his best showing in four previous appearances was a tie for 17th last year. Streelman’s turnaround began before the Tampa Bay victory when he decided it was better to think long term instead of over-emphasizing the past week’s tournament successes or failures.
“If I play well on the weekend, great. If I don’t play well, great,” he continued. “I know I’m doing the right things from my practice and workout and for a lifestyle situation for the long term with my career.”
Hoffman, seeking his third PGA Tour career victory and first since 2010, closed with birdies on his final two holes, the eighth and the ninth, to catch Streelman.
“It feels good to get the blood flowing a little bit and have a chance on Sunday,” he said. “Obviously, would like to make a bunch of birdies and pull away, but it usually doesn’t happen out here.”
After graduating from Florida Atlantic in 2000, LeBrun played golf’s mini tours and Triple-A circuits until earning his PGA Tour card at qualifying school last fall. It has taken time, he said, to adjust to the harder courses and uptick in competition. LeBrun’s missed the cuts in five of his eight events on tour this year and hasn’t finished higher than 24th at the Puerto Rico Open last month.
“It feels good,” he said. “It’s one of those things I always knew I had the game to be out here and I plan on being in this position a lot of times,” he said.
The RBC Heritage featured 14 of the world’s top 29 in the field, including three in the top 10 in Snedeker, Donald (No. 6) and Matt Kuchar (No. 9) during a week that’s generally a time for the game’s best to decompress after the Masters. Several, like Masters champ Adam Scott and world Nos. 1 and 2 in Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, are doing just that.