Matt Cooper

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The Roundup: Kraft work

Friday, July 6, 2018


Recap of the day
 
Morning wave: Another morning of going low. Anirban Lahiri torched the course with an early 9-under-par 61 to leap to the head of the leaderboard whilst Tyler Duncan made a jump of over 30 spots with a 64. George MacNeill also carded 64 to guarantee a weekend's work. Midway through the wave Webb Simpson signed for a 67 to join Lahiri at the top and Whee Kim also consolidated with a 68 to lie on 10-under, two swings back. Then it was back to turning up the heat with Scott Stallings and Kevin Na both landing 63s to breach the clubhouse top ten whilst Jason Kokrak's 64 left him just one back of the leaders on 11-under 129. 
 
Afternoon wave: Harold Varner III stroked a 64 to climb into the top ten and a 63 achieved the same for Sam Saunders. But Kelly Kraft was alone in changing the top of the scoring. His 63 left him on 13-under 127, tying the 36-hole low score for the season, and one clear of Lahiri and Simpson.
 
 
 
Low round of the day: Lahiri's sparkling 61 takes the plaudits.
 
Cut: -3 137
 
MCs: -2 Matt Jones, Aaron Wise, Jonas Blixt, Ted Potter Jr, -1 Stuart Appleby
 
Revised outright betting: Simpson 9/4, Lahiri 6/1, Kraft 13/2, Kokrak 12/1, Niemann 16/1, Schauffele 18/1, Varner II 20/1
 

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Saturday weather forecast
 
Temperatures in the mid 80s, humid, negligible wind, a 50% chance of rain in the morning, growing to 70% in the afternoon and with it the threat of thunderstorms.
 
 
Leaders at 36 holes
 
Kelly Kraft (63, 127) - Hitting it short from the tee (average 288 for the week), hit 21 of 18 fairways, and 28 of 36 greens in regulation, but 3.324 SG: Putting for two rounds and 15 birdies in all.
 
Anirban Lahiri (61, 128) - The Indian landed all 18 greens in regulation and gained 5.341 strokes on the greens. Dropped an outrageous eight birdies putts in the 12 to 22 feet region.
 
Webb Simpson (67, 128) - Opened with a birdie but then dropped three shots in two holes (12 and 13). Looked set to fall back until he converted four late birdie putts 
 
Jason Kokrak (64, 129) - Has averaged 324.50 yards from the tee and missed just two  greens in regulation through 36 holes. Oh, and he's bogey-free as well.
 
 
Fate of the favorites
 
Tony Finau (67, 134) - Steady as she goes for Finau so far this week. Two 67s and put together in reasonably similar styles, although this time around he was 3-for-3, not 0-for-3 at saving par from off the greens. His one bogey came from a three-putt.
 
Bubba Watson (66, 134) - Tormented after the first round he missed the first two fairways and then first par-3 green too. But then thrashed four birdies and an eagle in his next nine holes. Better, but still not quite right.
 
Phil Mickelson (69, 135) - Raved after his first lap that Trackman had helped him come to terms with the altitude, but on Friday found only 4 of 14 fairways and 10 of 18 green in regulation.
 
Webb Simpson (67, 128) - All his stats were, perhaps inevitably, down on Thursday. Distance of 279 against 323.7, Fairways 64.29% versus 71.43, Greens from 94.44% to 77.78%, and SG: Putting 3.101 down to -0.625. 
 
 
Quotes
 
Anirban Lahiri (61, 128) - "I've been feeling good over the last two weeks. I've seen the improvement on the golf course and I've tried to plug the gaps that I've found over the last two weeks, and I'm happy that more than anything else I haven't dropped a shot. But I'm not thinking about that. The focus is just to put myself in the best position that I can, and that's a big positive for me."
 
Whee Kim (68, 130) - "I'm in a really good position for the weekend. Just trying to get in the right position and trying to be on top of the leaderboard. I'm not going to overdo, just stay like this and play like this. Everything's great, be positive. That's it."
 
Webb Simpson (67, 128) - "I've always thought it was fun watching golfers who, attitude-wise, you couldn't tell how many under or over par they were, and I've never done well when I've gotten too excited or too upset. So that's kind of my goal every day. If somebody's watching me, I don't want them to know what I'm doing. And I think on days like today, it pays off. 2-over early, not showing an attitude, kind of hanging in there, because it keeps you kind of focused on what's present and what shot I'm about to hit. It paid off today."
 
Jason Kokrak (64, 129) - "It's just a culmination of everything I've been working on. Just being more comfortable over the golf ball and trusting what I'm doing. Trying to get the golf club a little more outside and with a little less curve. It seems to be working, and just making a few birdies, and just not making any mistakes."
 
Brandt Snedeker (67, 133) - "If you're on your game here, there are a lot of wedges in your hands, a lot of birdie opportunities. So you can be aggressive, and if you're driving the ball on the fairway, you really take all the danger out of play."
 
 
Road to victory at The Old White TPC
 
2017 Xander Schauffele – R1: 3rd, R2: 7th, R3: 3rd 
2015 Danny Lee – R1: 2nd, R2: 3rd, R3: 5th 
2014 Angel Cabrera – R1: 31st, R2: 13th, R3: 2nd 
2013 Jonas Blixt – R1: 9th, R2: 7th, R3: 3rd 
2012 Ted Potter, Jr – R1: 41st, R2: 23rd, R3: 6th 
 
Notes: This appears to be a tournament that is very much won at the weekend. None of the seven winners were in the top two (and ties) at halfway, and three were T13 or worse. A Saturday move looks worthy of note however. All seven champions were top ten after 54 holes.
 
 
Fate of the halfway leaders at The Old White TPC - where did they finish?
 
2017 - Sebastian Munoz - 3rd
2015 - Scott Langley - 13th 
2014 - Jhonattan Vegas - 37th 
2013 -Matt Every - 38th 
2012 -Webb Simpson - 7th 
 
Notes: This page discussed yesterday that no first round leader has won here and the 36-hole leaders share that inability to win (0-for-9), but in all six of them ended the week in the top ten.
 
 
Focus on - Anirban Lahiri
 
In 59 starts on the PGA Tour the Indian has shown enough to suggest that sooner or later he might claim a title and join Arjun Atwal as a winner in America from that nation (Daniel Chopra is half Indian, half Swedish). What's striking is that you might assume from his background on the Asian Tour that he'd thrive (at least initially) on Bermuda grass greens and yet his best efforts thus far are: T2 2017 Memorial, T5 2016 PGA Championship, T5 2017 CJ Cup, T6 2016 Fort Worth, T9 2017 BMW Championship and T9 2018 Travelers Championship. All of those are, like this week, bent grass greens, as was his T13 last week in the National at TPC Potomac. Keep an eye on him tomorrow: His last two Saturday rounds have reaped 65s.
 
 
Focus on - Harris English
 
When he started the year T64-T11-T8 English must have felt like a good 2018 lay ahead, but what happened Friday at The Old White is not exactly typical, but it has become very common. He shot 67-73 to go from inside the cut line to outside it. He's had 17 starts since the end of that neat run and five times that pattern has emerged. On another three occasions he went backwards but not quite so destructively. In his last three starts alone he averages 69 in round one and 75.33 in the second round.
 
 
Focus on - Webb Simpson
 
The 32-year-old might be quietly pleased Kraft passed him late in the day because he's 11 times held or shared the lead at halfway in a PGA Tour event, but what happened next is not exactly good news. He has only two wins from those 11 and they involved a four and a five shot lead after 36 holes. On two further occasions he led by one and two shots, then there were seven shared advantages - and he didn't win one. That said, he has only one win from eight experiences of being 2nd or T2 at this stage (and that was his first).



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