Harris English quipped to his caddy that no one is beating him at Colonial’s par-3 eighth hole, which is true after he followed his birdie in the opening round with a hole-in-one Friday. There is only one player ahead of him on the overall leaderboard.
PGA Tour rookie Harry Hall from England maintained the solo lead through 36 holes at 12-under 128, making a spectacular save from the sand at that same par 3, for a three-stroke lead over English. After opening with an 8-under 62, Hall had four consecutive birdies midway through his second-round 66.
Hall’s birdie streak ended with a bogey at the par-4 third, his 12th of the day, when he missed the fairway and then came up short of the green before a two-putt from 9 feet.
In the final group of the day, Hall’s tee shot at No. 8 plugged into the side of the deep bunker fronting the green.
“I could only see two dimples,” he said.
After knocking the ball loose but failing to get it out of the sand on his first attempt, Hall saved par by popping it out on the next try. The ball landed at the edge of the green and rolled into the cup.
“When it went back into the bunker, it wasn’t too much of a bad, a hard shot,” Hall said. “I just played it like a normal shot and tried to get it high and spin it as quick as possible, and I did just that.”
English’s ace at the 170-yard eighth was part of his bogey-free 66.
“Hard 9 ... pushed it about 4 or 5 yards right of where I was aiming, but it’s a good thing that hole got in the way,” English said. “Just one of those shots where I struck it pure, right at the flag.”
His third hole-in-one on the PGA Tour was the first at Colonial’s No. 8 hole since Jim Furyk in 2011.
English was a stroke ahead of Emiliano Grillo, who shot a round-best 65 to get to 8 under. Adam Schnek (67), Byeong Hun An (66) and Robby Shelton (67) were tied for fourth.
Scottie Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 player and Colonial runner-up in a playoff last year, had his second consecutive round of 67 and was tied for seventh at 6-under 134. Justin Rose, whose 11 PGA Tour wins include Colonial five years ago, was tied for ninth at 5 under after as bogey-free 66.
Jordan Spieth, still dealing with a sore left wrist, shot 72 both days to miss the cut. The 11th-ranked player had three bogeys and a birdie over his last four holes.
Michael Block, the 46-year-old club pro from California who became a sensation for everyday golfers by tying for 15th Sunday in the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, was last in the 120-player Colonial field at 15-over 155. After his opening 81, he was seven strokes better with a 74 that included back-to-back birdies midway through the round.
It was an exhausting span for Block, who hit only 11 of 28 fairways over two rounds, but was still mingling with fans – signing autographs and taking photos – hours after his final putt before flying home.
Other than the hole-in-one, it was just a steady round for four-time PGA Tour winner English, who had a third-place finish earlier this month at the Wells Fargo Championship. He hit 11 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens.
“When I did get in trouble off the tee or around the green, I got up and down. Made a really nice par on No. 9,” English said. “I had a lot of seemed like 15 or 20-footers and didn’t make much. ... But as long as I keep that ball-striking going and keep giving myself chances, then some good things will happen this weekend.”
Coming off the hole-in-one, English drove into the right rough at No. 9 and then into a greenside bunker before blasting to 6 feet and made the par-saving putt. His only birdie on the back nine was the 12th, when he made a 17-footer off the fringe.
Grillo, the 30-year-old from Argentina, was even on the round before making the turn with a birdie from a greenside bunker at the 389-yard 10th. That was the first of five backside birdies, including long putts on both par 3s – from 19 foot at No. 13, and nearly 38 feet at the 16th – before an approach to 7 feet at No. 18.
“It’s a lot of different clubs off the tee. Got to keep it in the fairway, got to keep it on the green. I would think that’s my strong part of the game,” Grillo said. “I was lucky enough to make a few good putts on the back nine. So happy to finish with a great shot on 18, and a good putt.”