PA Sport Staff
Jon Rahm rediscovered his Masters-winning form to move into contention at the halfway point of the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head.
But even the Spaniard’s bogey-free second round of 64 leaves him six strokes off the lead held by Jimmy Walker.
The former US PGA champion shot a second successive 65 to leave him three shots clear of Justin Rose, Scottie Scheffler – who can regain the world number one ranking from Rahm this week – and Xander Schauffele.
English duo Tommy Fleetwood, who matched Scheffler’s second-round 65, Aaron Rai and overnight leader Viktor Hovland were in a group a further shot back.
Rai had been among six golfers who completed their opening round on Friday morning, notching up two birdies in three holes to card an opening 63 for the first-round lead.
After admitting to feeling tired after his Masters heroics, Rahm found renewed energy to put himself back in contention to add the Heritage’s plaid jacket to his new green one from Augusta.
Speaking after his round, he said: “Today overall felt pretty good. I felt like my body was moving properly. Still not as good as I would like to be, but really, really good.
“I keep going back and forth, images of what I did last week to what I have to do this week.”
For Walker it was a welcome return to the heat of the battle after a lengthy spell away after being diagnosed with Lyme disease, his return to action bringing eight missed cuts in his last 12 events.
“Since getting sick, mentally and physically I feel different nearly every day and that’s been the hardest part,” he said. “The things that work on one day, I can’t feel it the next day.”
Scheffler could return to the number one spot he held before Augusta with victory this week, but despite putting himself into contention with a 65 he said top spot was not in his thoughts.
Bring on the weekend @RBC_Heritage #Team🌹 pic.twitter.com/CZrinGfcxR
— Justin ROSE (@JustinRose99) April 14, 2023
“You don’t really get any shots when the tournament starts, everybody starts at even,” he said. “We’re all just trying to go out there and do our best.
“With that being said, I like being number one more than number two, but it’s not something that occupies my thoughts.”
Rose shot a 67 as he stayed in contention on his 400th tour start.
American Patrick Cantlay, beaten in a play-off by Jordan Spieth a year ago, lies in the group four shots off the lead, helped by a hole-in-one on the seventh.