NORTON, Mass. (AP) — When he wasn't thinking about his caddie's deceased wife, Matt Kuchar was busy making plenty of birdies Saturday in the Deutsche Bank Championship.
Kuchar ran off six straight birdies around the turn at the TPC Boston for a 5-under 66 that left him one shot out of the lead among the early starters in the second round.
Ryan Palmer got off to a roller-coaster start, not making a par until his sixth hole. What looked as if it might be a big day when Palmer opened with a birdie turned into a grind, though he managed to keep his card clean on the back nine and closed with a birdie for a 71.
Palmer was at 8-under 134.
Jason Day and Rory McIlroy were among those playing in the afternoon on a sunny day with a testing breeze.
Kuchar said he had a slightly easier time coping with his emotions. It has been a difficult week for Kuchar, one of the tour's most easy-going characters. Angela Bennett, the wife of caddie Lance Bennett, died Wednesday of a seizure. The couple has a 4-year-old daughter, Emma Grace.
Some caddies wore black hats with an orange ribbon as a tribute, and the players got involved. Kuchar said he felt it was better for him to play this week to help build support for the Bennetts, such as starting a trust fund for the daughter.
"Today was easier," Kuchar said. "Still felt like Angela was on my mind almost every hole, every shot. But yesterday, I had a hard time pulling the trigger a couple of times."
Players were offered a chance to donate a portion of their earnings from the Deutsche Bank Championship to the fund. The fact he was on the leaderboard, and in such good shape going into the final two rounds, only helped raise awareness.
"That was the objective in coming here," Kuchar said. "You never know how things will work out in the game of golf. But it felt like there's some fate working, as well. It's an interesting cycle in life that we live. And to have such a close person pass ... yesterday was hard and today less hard. And you hope that that's the progression of things, that it gets easier. The funeral is coming up and some things that will be difficult. But right now I feel like there's some inspiration and some fate working."
The funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in Texas.
Kuchar and Billy Horschel (66) were one shot behind Palmer. Bill Haas kept alive his hopes as a Ryder Cup pick with a 69 that put him two shots behind Palmer.
Brandt Snedeker can only wait. He was No. 72 in the FedEx Cup and missed the cut, ending his season because only the top 70 advance to the third playoff event next week in Denver. U.S. captain Tom Watson makes his three wild-card selections on Tuesday. Snedeker had been building momentum until missing the cut in both playoff events.
Palmer also has reason to be considered as a Ryder Cup pick, though he hasn't had any chats with Watson.
He opened with a 63 on Thursday, and then started his second round with a birdie.
"I thought, 'Here we go. This is going to be fun,'" Palmer said. "It was a grind today."
He put a wedge into the water on the par-5 second hole for a double bogey, and then had to scramble to keep his round at par and his name somewhere near the top of the leaderboard.
Phil Mickelson bounced back with a 69 — even though he played the par 5s in 1 over — that at least assured him of making the cut and boosted his chances of getting to the BMW Championship next week at Cherry Hills, where he won the U.S. Amateur in 1990.