By STEPHEN HAWKINS, Associated Press
IRVING, Texas (AP) — The last thing Keegan Bradley wanted to do at the 18th hole with a cozy lead was flirt with the water on the left.
Bradley's drive on his final hole Friday was nowhere close to getting wet. He instead went well right under trees while bogeying No. 18 for the second day in a row, this time closing a 1-under 69 Friday that gave him a three-stroke lead after two rounds.
"I'm going to hit good ones on Saturday and Sunday. I'm due, I don't know when the last time is I hit the fairway," Bradley said. "It's just a matter of commitment. ... For me, I got to take it a little over the edge of the water. So, it's difficult because you know you have that bailout and I got a four-shot lead, so the last thing I wanted to do was plop it in the water."
Bradley bogeyed Nos. 1 and 18 again, just as he did during an opening 60 that set the TPC Four Seasons course record when his only bogeys came in the middle of that round.
In between the bogeys Friday, in tougher conditions, Bradley had another bogey at No. 6, four birdies and several nice par-savers. There was a two-putt from 35 feet after driving into the trees at No. 14 and a blast to 4 feet of the hole from a greenside bunker at No. 15.
"I'm almost more proud of this round than (Thursday) because I didn't feel comfortable all day," Bradley said. "I don't know what it was, I can't put my finger on it, but, you know, I bogeyed the first hole. I was a little uncomfortable and then I settled in and hit some really good shots."
Bradley's 11-under 129 is the lowest 36-hole total at the Nelson since 2001.He got his first PGA Tour victory as a rookie there two years ago, then followed that by winning the PGA Championship later that year and the World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational last season.
Tom Gillis, who shot 63 in the first group of the day off the No. 10 tee, and Sang-Moon Bae (66), the 26-year-old South Korean who has 11 international victories but none on the PGA Tour, were tied for second place.
A stroke further back were 2012 PGA Tour rookie of the year John Huh (64), Ryan Palmer (68) and 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (70). Schwartzel had an opening 63 and was the closest to Bradley after the first round.
"It was a bit up and down out there," said Schwartzel, who had three birdies and three bogeys. "Bit of a frustrating day, but I suppose it's the mix."
Guan Tianlang, the 14-year-old amateur from China, missed the cut with rounds of 70 and 77.
After driving into the rough and then hitting into two bunkers for a double-bogey 6 at No. 12, his third hole Friday, Guan had a 19-foot birdie putt on the following par 3. He then had five consecutive bogeys.
Guan last month made the cut at the Masters and then again in New Orleans, becoming the youngest player to make the cut on the PGA Tour. He said he "probably" would stay in the United States to play more golf, but wasn't specific about where or confirm if he would play in a U.S. Open sectional qualifier June 3.
Defending Nelson champion Jason Dufner, playing with good friend Bradley, had his second consecutive 70 to join 83 players making the cut of even par.
Gillis got rolling with three consecutive birdies, starting with a 13-foot putt at No. 12 before burying a 32-footer on the 180-yard par 3 right after that. His only bogey came at his closing hole, when he three-putted from 12 1/2 feet at the 427-yard ninth hole.
He had played an afternoon round Thursday, when 13 players shot 66 or better in the morning and the only one in the afternoon was Marc Leishman with a 66.
"It was easier, I think the wind was down and I was hoping that we would get a fair shot like they had (Thursday) morning just to see what it would be like," Gillis said. "Definitely, I thought it played better than in the afternoon."
Two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton matched Gillis for the best round Friday, his 63 a nine-stroke improvement from the opening round to put him in a tie for 13th.
Gillis had missed his last five cuts with 12 straight rounds without breaking 70 before his opening 1-under 69 even with bogeys on three of his last four holes.
Asked about what was different this week, Gillis said he was more relaxed after reuniting with his coach.
"Tried to do some things on my own and kind of got lost," Gillis said before explaining their separation. "We had disagreements on some things. ... You talk things out, work things out. People change. I think he was right all along, to be honest with you."
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