Matt Cooper

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The Roundup: PlayOff X Factor

Friday, September 7, 2018

Recap of the day
Morning wave: Xander Schauffele made four front nine birdies to set a hot pace and he didn't relent despite one back nine bogey, setting the clubhouse target of 13-under 127 with a 64. Justin Thomas added a 67 to his opening 64 for 9-under, a total Rory McIlroy soon equalled although he was becalmed on Friday, posting nothing better than 69.
Afternoon wave: Keegan Bradley's 64 and Alex Noren's 66 saw them settle on 10-under 130 and edge ahead of McIlroy and Thomas. Shortly afterward Justin Rose went one step nearer the leader with a 63 that saw him total 11-under 129 before Hideki Matsuyama (64) and Rickie Fowler (65) joined the group on 10-under.
Low round of the day: Kevin Na crept up into T11 with a bogey-free 62 then Tommy Fleetwood added another to leap into T20.
Revised outright betting: Schauffele 9/2, Rose 7/1, Matsuyama 10/1, McIlroy 12/1, Thomas 14/1
Saturday weather forecast
Cooler temperatures (low to mid 60s), but a very high chance of rain (70%) and consequently higher humidity (80%). Breezes of no more than 9mph.
Leaders at 36 holes
Xander Schauffele (64, 127) - The fairways maybe wide, but he found only half of the on Friday. No bother, though: He missed just one green in regulation. Six of his birdie were converted from inside 17 feet, but on the 11th he drained from 41'9".
Justin Rose (63, 129) - Landed 11 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation, then poured in seven birdie conversions including distances of 25'6", 18'4" and 58'9".
Fate of the favorites
Dustin Johnson (68, 138) - Missed only two greens in regulation, but uninspired on the green. Three-putted from 17'5" for his only bogey and holed 3-of-8 birdies looks from inside 20 feet.
Justin Rose - see above
Brooks Koepka (68, 137) - He's hit 30 of 36 greens in regulation this week, but other than the par-5s he's giving himself very few close looks at birdie.
Xander Schauffele (64, 127) - On his Ryder Cup hopes - "I'm sort of in a position where I feel like a win is the only way I'd even be in consideration. Tony is the guy right now. He just shot 64 as well. He's not making it easy on anyone else trying to get on that team. Hats off to him for playing really well."
Xander Schauffele (64, 127) - On winning the Tour Championship last year - "Life changing is definitely the right way to put it. There's a stat out there that whoever won the Tour Championship never made the year back or the following year. I'm very aware of that and sort of had that in the back of my mind all year, wanting to just give myself a chance to win again. So, you know, definitely happy with the start here. It was nice to back up the 63 with a 64, something I've never done in my career so good timing for that."
Tony Finau (64, 132) - On the his Ryder Cup wildcard hopes - "I've been playing good golf all year and I don't need to put more pressures on myself than what's already there. It's a lot easier to say than it is to do. What I've learned in this game, you can't look ahead. The possibilities are cool, the potential of what could happen, but nothing good comes from thinking too far ahead."
Rory McIlroy (69, 131) - "I didn't hit as many fairways. I got some really bad lies in the rough, as undulating as the greens are and where they tucked the pins away today you couldn't really get to them. That was one thing. And I just didn't hole any putts."
Keegan Bradley (64, 130) - "I remember this course being really, really different. The greens are a little softer and the fairways are, again, soft so it's easier to hit the fairways."
Tiger Woods (70, 132) - "Very simple. I didn't make any putts. I hit a lot of beautiful putts that were on top of the edge and then obviously hit a couple bad ones on the last hole but looked like all the putts were going to go in but they didn't go in today."
Justin Rose (63, 129) On winning up the road at Merion and playing well again - "Must be something in the water around here for sure. I played well. The crowd latched on to it for sure. I get good support around here. Nice when they're reminding you all the time that it's your town as well. Obviously I like to come here and play well. It's nice to have the added extra bit of enthusiasm from the crowd."
Road to victory in the BMW
2017 Marc Leishman – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2016 Dustin Johnson – R1: 3rd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2015 Jason Day – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2014 Billy Horschel – R1: 4th, R2: 3rd, R3: 1st
2013 Zach Johnson – R1: 2nd, R2: 3rd, R3: 4th
Notes: In all there have been 11 winners of this title and all of them were T4 or better after 36 holes, with ten T3 or better. 
Fate of the halfway leaders in the BMW  - where did they finish?
2017 Marc Leishman - 1st
2016 Dustin Johnson - 1st, Roberto Castro - 3rd
2015 Jason Day - 1st
2014 Sergio Garcia - 4th
2013 Jim Furyk - 3rd, Brandt Snedeker - 8th
Notes: As the previous section points out, being in contention has mattered in this event. 17 golfers have owned or shared the lead at halfway and six went on to win, three of them in the last three years.
Focus on - The FedEx Cup
Only the top 30 in the rankings will progress to the season-ending TOUR Championship in two weeks’ time. Current projected rankings and movements are listed below:
Projected Top 5 after R2
On the up - moved from outside to inside the top 30 today
Xander Schauffele - 41st to projected 6th
Keegan Bradley - 52nd to projected 28th
Alex Noren - 50th to projected 25th
Going down - moved from inside to outside the top 30 today
Emiliano Grillo - 29th to projected 33rd
Jordan Spieth - 27th to projected 32nd
Marc Leishman - 22nd to projected 31st
On the number
Gary Woodland - started the week 30th and still there
Focus on - DJ's Moving Day Rut
Dustin Johnson has hardly sparkled this week, opening with laps of 70-68 to lie T48, but keep an eye on what happens tomorrow because in each of his last three starts he has always gone sub-70 in rounds one, two and four, but also always carded a 72 in the third round. The first of those was in the PGA Championship, a lap that left him T21 having started it T5. It was the third time in the 2018 majors that his Saturday lap hurt (he led the U.S. Open by four then carded 77 to only share the 54-hole lead and his R3 71 at Augusta saw him slip from T6 and six back to T11 and ten back). The only major he didn't suffer on Saturday was the Open - and he didn't make it as far as Saturday that week.

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