A fresh round of rain, along with a flood of errant shots through the Horrible Horseshoe, swept Masters champion Jordan Spieth off the Friday leader board at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
But the soggy conditions could not slow Kevin Na, a Thursday co-leader with Spieth who became Colonial’s solo pacesetter by dropping a series of long birdie putts during his second round.
Na finished with five birdies, three of them on putts between 22 and 30 feet, during Friday’s second-round 66 that pushed him to 10-under par for the tournament. He stands two strokes in front of his closest pursuer heading into the weekend rounds.
The solid showing left Na, 31, in a dancing mood at the 13th green, where his 22-foot birdie putt triggered an impromptu “Big Bird” dance, complete with flapping arms, as the crowd roared its approval.
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“It just came out. When the crowd went wild on that hole, I gave them a little show,” said Na, who secured his lead with a scrambling bogey at No. 18 after driving into a drainage ditch and hitting his approach over skyboxes near the green. “I made a lot of putts out there. My game started lighting it up.”
But the skies overhead, for a second consecutive day, remained mostly dark and dropped a fresh round of precipitation on a saturated layout. With more storms in the extended weekend forecast, PGA Tour officials will begin Saturday’s third round at 7 a.m. with golfers playing in threesomes and starting at both the No. 1 and No. 10 tees. The final groups should finish in time to watch CBS’ tape-delayed telecast (2-5 p.m., KTVT/11).
Na’s primary pursuers and Saturday’s playing partners will be Ian Poulter (8 under), a five-time participant on European Ryder Cup teams, and Boo Weekley (7 under), the 2013 Colonial champ.
Spieth, a Dallas resident seeking his first PGA Tour triumph in Texas, fell to 3-under for the tournament — seven strokes off the lead — because he surrendered five strokes to par over his final six holes during a round of 73. Included was a triple bogey at No. 5, where Spieth’s drive into a hazard in the right rough triggered a one-shot penalty. Spieth did not reach the green until his fifth shot before two-putting for triple bogey.
Along with a bogey at No. 4, Spieth gave back four of his five strokes to par in Colonial’s signature Horrible Horseshoe stretch (Nos. 3-5) that historically play as the three most difficult holes on the course.
“Very disappointing,” Spieth said. “Just a couple bad swings is all it was. Disappointing, though, to come from the lead to being … seven back going into the weekend. It’s not ideal for the finish.”
The ideal position belongs to Na, whose lone tour triumph came at the 2011 Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospital for Children Open in Las Vegas. But in the course of a five-birdie performance, Na’s biggest shot of the day was a 6-iron approach from 195 yards in the right rough that helped him salvage a closing bogey.
After driving into a drainage ditch right of the 18th fairway, Na took a one-stroke penalty and dropped to the right of the hazard. He aimed over the letter “H” in the Hogan skyboxes that overlook the 18th green and unleashed a 6-iron approach that settled 23 feet from the pin in the back fringe.
His subsequent two-putt clinched what Na called a “good bogey” to finish his round.
“You’ve got a blind shot. You pull it at all, it’s in the hazard and you’re making 6, maybe 7,” Na said. “So I was happy to walk out with 5.”
Na walked out with the lead, but some notable names will not return for the weekend rounds. Among Colonial’s cut casualties were Fort Worth resident J.J. Henry (5 over), Colleyille resident and Colonial member Ryan Palmer (2 over) and a group of past champions that included Kenny Perry (3 over), Tim Herron (2 over) and David Toms (6 over).
Because Saturday’s forecast calls for evening rains that will last into Sunday morning, the 80 cut survivors and golf fans will have to be early risers for the third round.
“It’s part of the game,” said Charley Hoffman (5 under), who is five strokes off the pace after rounds of 66-69. “Obviously, if they see weather, it’s good that they’re going to try to get us done earlier than the weather. It’s unfortunate for the fans out here in Fort Worth, but they’re just trying to get this tournament in.”
Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760