Werenski makes cut, tied for 34th at 3-under at Travelers

  • South Hadley’s Richy Werenski, center, watches Rory Sabbatini’s tee shot on the ninth hole at TPC River Highlands on Friday in Cromwell, Conn. FOR THE RECORDER/kyle grabowski

For the Recorder
Published: 6/22/2018 11:00:46 PM

CROMWELL, Conn. — The cut line loomed large in Richy Werenski’s mind at the Travelers Championship.

The South Hadley native started Friday’s second round one shot in front of the projected cut line after a 2-under 68 in the first round. The PGA Tour thins its fields after the second round, eliminating everyone but the top 70 plus ties.

“That’s something I don’t mind looking at,” Werenski said. “I want to look at that so you know what you gotta do.”

He did enough in the second round, shooting a 1-under 69 at TPC River Highlands. That put him at 3 under for the tournament and tied for 34th. He and U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka were both two shots in front of the cut line.

“I can get really hot, if my putter happens to get hot, I can have a really good finish,” Werenski said. “You make the cut, you give yourself a chance.”

Brian Harman leads the tournament at 10 under. He followed a 6-under 64 with a 66 on Friday.

Matt Jones, who played in the group with Werenski both days, was tied for second at 9 under.

“It just comes down to putting with me,” Jones said. “If you’ve got nothing to fall back on around the green with the putter, it makes life hard.”

Werenski could have put himself in that tier with stronger putting. He hit 12-of-14 fairways and 16-of-18 greens in regulation. Only two of his birdie putts dropped, and he left many of the misses short.

“Maybe I’m not giving it enough speed. They’re dying right around the hole,” Werenski said. “I hit it another foot or so harder, and a lot of those probably would have gone in.”

He didn’t blow up on any of the greens, though, finishing with just one bogey on the third hole. He left his birdie attempt 3 feet, 9 inches short, but his par putt lipped out. The bogey pushed him to 1 under and outside the cut line by one stroke.

“That was so early in the round. There’s a ton of birdie holes out here,” Werenski said. “I figured I’d make a few birdies from there.”

His first came on No. 6. Werenski launched his tee shot 307 yards to the left side of the fairway, but his second shot landed in a green-side bunker. Werenski chipped to 12 feet, 2 inches then sank that putt to go back to 2-under.

“That one had a little more speed, dead center,” he said.

He made his second birdie look easy on the par-3 11th. He hit his tee shot 143 yards then sank a 7 foot, 8 inch putt to get to 3 under.

The other 15 holes were pars that kept Werenski ahead of the cut line. He closed his round with seven pars in a row.

“I feel like that’s the worst I could have shot the last few days because I could have made so many more putts,” Werenski said.

Not all of the pars were disappointing. He saved par on No. 12 after hitting his second shot into a bunker. Werenski lofted the ball out and gave himself a 4 foot, 4 inch putt that he calmly finished.

He saw his grandmother in the gallery after finishing the fourth hole and ducked a rope to hug her.

“I don’t get to see her that often. It was cool to see her out there trucking along,” Werenski says. “She loves it when she can (see me play). It’s awesome.”

Werenski had a large following both weekdays that included his parents, brother and friends from South Hadley. His mom Susan Werenski grabbed him for a hug as soon as he walked off the 18th green when his round was over. They’ll be behind him for the next two days.

“It feels like a home game,” Werenski said.

He tees off at 10:30 a.m. with Nick Hardy. Koepka is playing in the group in front.

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