PINEHURST — Caddie Steve Lohmeyer came in for a fist bump with Brendon Todd on the 18th tee box of Pinehurst No. 2 on Friday.
Todd, who was so calm he looked like he needed a pulse check, casually obliged the obviously stoked Lohmeyer.
“My caddie is a very excitable guy,” Todd said. “I’m not.”
No kidding. Todd, who grew up in Cary, had every reason to show his emotional range on Friday, but he was completely even-keeled during, and after, the second round of the U.S. Open.
Todd shot a 3-under 67 on Friday, which was better than everyone in the field but Martin Kaymer, the 36-hole leader. Todd finds himself alone in second place, six shots behind Kaymer, going into the weekend of his first major.
Todd will tee off on Saturday in the last group with Kaymer, at 3:25 p.m, which is kind of cool, he said, but don’t expect Todd to gush about it.
That the Open is in Pinehurst, an hour car ride from where Todd calls home and a place “close to his heart,” does make it special, Todd admits. At Green Hope High and in junior tournaments, he spent a lot of time and played a lot of golf in Pinehurst.
But this is about business, Todd said.
“And I feel like I’ve gone about my business just like always,” Todd, 28, said.
And lately Todd’s business has been tearing up the PGA Tour. He won his first PGA event on May 18 at the Byron Nelson Classic. He has followed that up with two more top 10 finishes, giving him five for the season. He moved into the top 60 of the world rankings, (No. 55) and qualified for his first U.S. Open. That it’s in North Carolina, all the better.
Todd has continued his strong play in Pinehurst with back-to-back rounds under par. He shot a 1-under 69 on Thursday and by the time he birdied the third hole on Friday, he moved into a 10-way logjam for second place.
With a smooth, long swing, the lanky righty (all 6-3 and 180 pounds of him) had an efficient round on Friday. He hit 13 of 14 fairways and 14 greens in regulation. He had an economy of putts (29) and has yet to three-putt on Donald Ross’ treacherous turtle-back greens.
He birdied the 13th hole to move a stroke ahead of Kevin Na and Brandt Snedeker, who share third place.
Improved driving accuracy, former University of Georgia teammate Chris Kirk said, is why Todd has played so well this season.
“Now that he’s confident with the driver, the rest of the game is so good,” said Kirk, Todd’s former roommate at UGa and who played in Todd’s group the first two rounds here in Pinehurst. “It was just a matter of time.”
Todd, who made the PGA Tour for the first time last year, after working his way through the minor tours after college in 2007 and the Web.com Tour more recently, said he knew he would be successful on the tour. He was disappointed it didn’t happen sooner.
“I saw it coming,” Todd said. “I feel like I should have done it last year. I just couldn’t get it done. This year, I’ve just been able to take that momentum and put it to work.”
The driver has helped, Todd said, but so has avoiding the big mistake. He was bogey-free on Friday and had a pair of sand saves on the 16th and 17th holes to remain at 4-under.
The first sand save came after he drained a pressure-filled putt that makes the U.S. Open the U.S. Open. He stood over the 12-footer and drained it.
He pulled his tee shot on the par-3 17th into the bunker on the left. His sand shot was better than the previous hole and knocked down the par putt.
That’s why Lohmeyer got a charge and the fist bump.
“I got two difficult bunker shots up and down in a row … to stave off the bogeys for the day,” Todd said.
Todd put his second shot on the 18th about 12 feet from the cup. He missed the birdie putt but his reaction was the same as it was after the putt he made on the 16th.
There was no reason to get emotional, there’s still business left to be done.