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There is separation at the top of the leaderboard at the 2022 Travelers Championship and while it appeared for a moment two of golf's biggest names would be responsible for this, in the end it is Xander Schauffele who is alone in the lead. Sitting at 14 under and in possession of a five-stroke margin, the American will attempt to capture his sixth victory on the PGA Tour and first individual triumph in over three years.

Last victorious at the 2019 Tournament of Champions, Schauffele will have his work cut out for him despite carding consecutive bogey-free rounds of 7-under 63. His closest pursuers include his good friend and Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teammate Patrick Cantlay as well as defending champion Harris English and Kevin Kisner at 9 under.

Just past them on the leaderboard is Rory McIlroy who experienced a rather volatile Friday and at one point saw his name alone a the top of the leaderboard. Two loose tee shots on McIlroy's back nine led to disastrous scores and as a result he finds himself at 8 under for the tournament despite carding 15 birdies through his first two rounds. He will need to keep his foot on the gas -- as will the other chasers -- in order to prohibit Schauffele from running away with this tournament over the final 36 holes.

The leader

1. Xander Schauffele (-14): After connecting on 18 greens in regulation on Thursday, Schauffele continued to strike the ball well in the second round. The reward for his steady play is a five-stroke lead and it is more than overdue as the 2021-22 season has been an odd one for the world No. 15. Winning alongside Cantlay in the Zurich Classic team event, Schauffele has only contended once on his own, with this instance coming all the way back in February at the WM Phoenix Open. Despite his inability to play himself into the weekend mix as often as he would like, Schauffele should be more than comfortable in the spotlight over the latter half of the Travelers Championship.

"It's only Friday. We've got 36 more holes, and I need to stay aggressive," Schauffele said of his mindset moving forward. "This is a course that's giving up some birdies, and if you're leading the pack and you get kind of comfortable, people are going to hunt you down. It's definitely something (caddy Austin Kaiser) and I will talk about and kind of stick to what we've been doing. Obviously it's been working out just fine. Sticking to the process is always a good thing."

Other contenders

T2. Patrick Cantlay, Harris English, Nick Hardy, Cameron Davis and Kevin Kisner (-9)

T7. Rory McIlroy, K.H. Lee, J.T. Poston, Seamus Power, Sahith Theegala, Charles Howell III, Martin Laird and John Huh (-8)

Someone must have stolen McIlroy's powers on the back nine of his second round as he was in full control of his game in the first 27 holes of this tournament. At one point reaching 13 under, the Northern Irishman imploded on the par-4 12th and carded a quadruple bogey before adding a double bogey on the drivable par-4 15th. Having signed for an 8-under 62 on Thursday, McIlroy treaded water on Friday with an even-par performance and now finds himself six strokes behind Schauffele.

English in position to successfully defend

In only his third week back in competition, Harris English is looking like his 2021 self. Undergoing hip surgery in the winter due to a torn labrum, the 2021 Travelers Championship winner was forced away from the sport from January to June. Ascending as high as No. 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings, English now finds himself narrowly inside the top 30 and looks to be getting stronger with each additional round under his belt.

"The hip is doing better," English said after posting a second-round 65. "The toughest thing is walking and playing. I mean, I feel like back home I can go hit a bunch of balls on the range, but up and down these hills and being on your feet for five or six hours is the toughest part. It's getting better and better, and I feel like the more I play competitive rounds out here, it's just going to get stronger. So I'm happy to have made the cut, made the weekend for two tournaments in a row. This is my third tournament back, so I am just excited to keep playing golf."

Niemann, Burns and Spieth among those with the weekend off

The Travelers Championship boasted a top heavy field to begin the week and unfortunately there are number of premier players who have been sent packing early. Headlining this group is world No. 9 Sam Burns who was unable to get anything going after tasting contention last week at the U.S. Open. The three-time winner this season is joined by Jordan Spieth who failed to rebound after opening with a 5-over 75 and Joaquin Niemann who struggled despite some short-game heroics.

Travelers Championship odds, picks

Here is a look at the updated odds for the Travelers Championship at the halfway point, via Caesars Sportsbook.

  • Xander Schauffele: 5/6
  • Patrick Cantlay: 15/2
  • Rory McIlroy: 8-1
  • Seamus Power: 20-1
  • Harris English: 25-1
  • Cameron Davis: 25-1
  • Kevin Kisner: 28-1
  • Nick Hardly: 35-1
  • Scottie Scheffler: 35-1
  • Webb Simpson: 40-1
  • K.H. Lee: 40-1

English made for a nice addition last night in unison with some Simpson exposure, so I don't mind holding pat and letting Moving Day take place before making our next wager. However, if you are itching to click a name before the weekend begins, McIlroy is currently sitting near his pre-tournament number and has the firepower to chase down Schauffele over the final 36 holes. He overcame a five-stroke deficit at The CJ Cup earlier this season and has already carded 15 birdies in only two rounds of play. If he can avoid the quadruple and double bogeys, he should thrive playing from behind.