Matt Cooper

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The Roundup: Field Storms PGA

Friday, August 10, 2018


Recap of the day
 
Morning wave: Gary Woodland followed his 64 with a 66 to grab the early clubhouse lead on 10-under 130 (and it would become the overnight lead when thunder called an early halt at 3:35 p.m.). Big-hitters Dustin Johnson and Thomas Pieters also pegged 66s to move to 7-under 133. But there were others who went lower. Charl Schwartzel joined them in a tied for fourth with a 63, Brooks Koepka matched that to claim solo third on 8-under and Kevin Kisner's 64 slotted him in at second on 9-under. There were 65s everywhere. In fact nine alone in the morning, the first time that any major championship round had more than seven.
 
Afternoon wave: The biggest drama came from Tony Finau who didn't make a par on his front nine (he made seven birdies, one bogey and a triple bogey-6); he's 4-under-par through 11 holes in his second round, fighting to make the cut and just inside the line. Eddie Pepperell was another on 4-under-par, in his case through 12 (T32), whilst Tiger Woods was 3-under-par through seven holes, rising 25 spots on the leaderboard to T23. The only man in the top eight out on the course was Rickie Fowler: 2-under-par through ten, T4 and 7-under for the week. Inclement weather halted play for the day, so this wave will have to return on 7:00 a.m. CT on Saturday to finish their rounds.
 
 
 

Low round of the day:
Koepka and Schwartzel with 63
 

Cut:
Currently looks like being level-par
 

Revised outright betting:
D.Johnson 9/2, Fowler 11/2, Koepka 6/1, Woodland 8/1, Kisner 14/1, Day 16/1
 
 
Saturday weather forecast
 
The temperature will remain in the high 80s, perhaps touching the low 90s, with humidity predicted to be at least 60%. The breezes are unlikely to top 9mph and rain is unlikely.
 
 
Leaders on Friday Night
 
Gary Woodland (66, 130) - Has missed just three greens in regulation in both rounds and the highlight of Friday was a 265-yard approach to the par-5 17th: it left him 5'3" for eagle and he converted.
 
Kevin Kisner (64, 131) - Landed 25 of 28 fairways through the week which matters for him because he can compete from the short grass if the greens stay soft. Made six back nine birdies (his first nine) and not one needed a putt above 15-feet.
 
Brooks Koepka (63, 132) - Seven birdies and the longest conversion was 7'1". Holed one par putt that was longer than all of them and another pair from five-feet.
 
 
Fate of the favorites
 
Dustin Johnson (66, 133) - Stuttered his way through 11 holes (two bogeys and a birdie), but came to life late in the front nine (his second) with five birdies in six holes from inside 17 feet and he missed an 8-footer to make it half a dozen.
 
Rory McIlroy (level thru 7) - Given himself plenty of looks at birdie, but yet to nail one. Requires more than pars to make sure he stays the rights of the cut, needs multiple birdies to contend.
 
Justin Thomas (2-under thru 7) - Another giving himself looks at par-breakers (albeit it from further away than McIlroy) but only landed one in the second round.
 
 
Quotes
 
Gary Woodland (66, 130): "I told Phil (Kenyon), when I started working with him, if I start making putts, things are different because the rest of the game was where I needed it to be. I think I'm a pretty good chipper, but out here on this grass, I'm a really good chipper. I grew up with Zoysia, when we spend summers in Kansas this is the only kind of grass I see. So I'm very comfortable with it and that allows me to be more aggressive with the iron play."
 
Kevin Kisner (64, 131): "The greens are receptive, so my 4-iron stops as quick as his (Gary Woodland's) 7-iron. If they were firm, I don't think I would have a chance with the way the greens are situated and the places they're putting the flags. But being receptive that's my only hope."
 
Brooks Koepka (63, 132 on playing the majors): "I'm just very in the zone, very disciplined, more attention to detail, more mentally focused. Every shot really means something. My preparation ... I mean everyone on my team even says I act a little different, the way I approach it."
 
Dustin Johnson (66, 133): "At the British Open I felt like I hit it plenty good enough to be in contention after two days, I just putted really poorly. I'm starting to roll the putter really well, seeing the lines good. And I'm definitely swinging well."
 
Jordan Spieth (66, 137): "My expectations are lower than they are when I'm in form, certainly last year at this time and I'm okay with that, it's just a process and I got to be patient with it getting back."
 
Charl Schwartzel (63, 133): "I switched putters today, went to a little heavier putter. The one I used yesterday was the one I used Sunday at Bridgestone, the one I've been using for about a year and a half. The one I used today is the one I got at the British Open when the greens were slow there. It's just got a lot more weight to it, and it's just easier to get the ball to the hole."
 
Justin Rose (69, 137): "I'm happy with the way I scored considering how I played. I played poorly today, really struggled, didn't hit my irons well at all. Really scrambled well, to be honest with you."
 
 
Road to victory in the PGA Championship
 
2017 Justin Thomas – R1: 44th, R2: 7th, R3: 4th
2016 Jimmy Walker – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2015 Jason Day – R1: 3rd, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
2014 Rory McIlroy – R1: 4th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2013 Jason Dufner – R1: 11th, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
 
Notes: When Padraig Harrington won in 2008 he was T26 at halfway and Martin Kaymer in 2010 was T15. The other 18 of the last 20 winners were T7 or better. 14 of them were T3 or better at this stage.
 
 
Fate of the halfway leaders in the PGA Championship  - where did they finish?
 
2017 - Hideki Matsuyama - 5th, Kevin Kisner - 7th
2016 - Jimmy Walker - 1st, Robert Streb - 7th
2015 - Matt Jones - 21st
2014 - Rory McIlroy - 1st
2013 - Jason Dufner - 1st
 
Notes: 32 players have held or shared the lead in the PGA Championship in the 21st century and 11 of them have completed the victory.
 
 
Focus on - Sergio Garcia
 
In his first 74 major championships he might have struggled to land the win (it finally came in that 74th start), but he regularly hit the top ten. In fact he did it 23 times (and on 36 occasions he grabbed a top 25). Since the win? T21-T37-MC-MC-MC-MC-? That last result is dependent on what the late starters achieve Saturday morning. But as it currently stands Garcia will miss the cut. If it happens (and it's not a given) a fifth on the trot would be remarkable. His previous worst run was three (2004-5). It is not only his major record which is under threat, but his chances of playing in the Ryder Cup. If he misses the final two rounds it will be an eighth such failure in 12 starts. 
 
 
Focus on - Daniel Berger
 
On Friday the 25-year-old's fondness for playing on Zoysia grass came to the fore. He'd labored to a first lap of 73, but he missed just one green in regulation on the second circuit and five of his six birdies were drained from inside six-feet. His 5-under-par 65 jumped him 68 positions on the live leaderboard and was far more in keeping with his past record hitting from similar grass. Three visits to East Lake have reaped T12 and two T15s, whilst his three trips to TPC Southwind earned him a pair of victories followed by a missed cut earlier this season. So strong is his form in these conditions that on raw stroke average at East Lake, TPC Southwind and Trinity Forest (the three tracks with Zoysia fairways) he ranks third best in the field for players who've made a minimum of five starts.
 
 



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