PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth headed dwelling after the primary two rounds of the Gamers Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Tiger Woods would possibly want a miracle to contend for his third title right here.
However the leaderboard for the PGA Tour’s “fifth main” remains to be chock-full of big-name stars, together with Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy, who share the 36-hole lead at 12 beneath.
Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm are additionally inside placing distance.
Here is what’s approaching the weekend on the Gamers:
Two large names searching for an enormous win
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Photos
Fleetwood adopted his opening-round 65 with a 67, and he’ll attempt to turn into the primary Englishman to win the Gamers. He is additionally in search of his first victory on American soil after ending solo second on the U.S. Open final season.
Tiger Woods did one thing he had by no means accomplished earlier than in his profession by hitting two balls into the water at TPC Sawgrass’ well-known No. 17 island inexperienced.
Jordan Spieth missed the minimize for the third time in his previous eight PGA Tour occasions on Friday, however he mentioned he appears like his sport is coming round.
Phil Mickelson’s week ended sooner than he had hoped Friday with a missed minimize on the Gamers Championship and extra inquiries from media a few school admissions bribery scandal.
“You already know, it is an apparent subsequent step in my profession, and I do know the extra good golf I play, the extra it will get talked about,” Fleetwood mentioned. “However that is a very good factor — that I am anticipated to make that subsequent step.”
McIlroy has been ready fairly some time to assert his 15th Tour victory. He hasn’t gained for the reason that Arnold Palmer Invitational in March 2018. He completed sixth or higher in every of his earlier six begins this season, together with runner-up on the WGC-Mexico Championship in March.
“I simply must preserve seeing crimson numbers,” McIlroy mentioned. “That is all I must preserve seeing. I do not want a win. I am not placing myself beneath strain. Successful is a byproduct of doing all of the issues that I am doing properly.”
Does Tiger actually have an opportunity?
Tiger Woods is pleased along with his placing and says he has not accomplished a lot flawed aside from on 17 within the second spherical of the Gamers Championship.
Tiger Woods, after opening with rounds of 70 and 71, will begin the third spherical at three beneath, 9 pictures behind Fleetwood.
“Anybody who makes the minimize has an opportunity to win this golf event,” Woods mentioned after Friday’s spherical.
Possibly not. For Woods to win, he’ll must publish the most important 36-hole comeback within the historical past of the Gamers.
In line with ESPN Stats & Info, the most important 36-hole comeback was in 2010, when Tim Clark trailed Lee Westwood by 7 pictures to begin the third spherical. Clark shot 66-67 on the weekend to win by a shot.
In 2017, Si Woo Kim overcame a 6-shot, 36-hole deficit to win, and Woods got here again from a 6-shot, second-round deficit to win in 2001.
Who invited the outdated guys?
Jim Furyk wasn’t even positive he was on this occasion. Now he is in rivalry. AP Photograph/Lynne Sladky
Jim Furyk, 48, turned the oldest participant to interrupt 65 at TPC Sawgrass with an Eight-under 64 on Friday, just one shot off the 18-hole document within the Gamers Championship.
Furyk wasn’t even conscious that he would possibly make the TPC area after he collected his second top-10 this season with a tie for ninth on the Honda Basic in early March.
“I did not notice I had a chance to play my manner into this area, so I used to be sort of planning my schedule with this as an off week,” Furyk mentioned. “I actually did not know that I had that chance. A few gamers instructed me I’d get within the area, and I used to be excited.”
Serving as captain of Workforce USA within the 2018 Ryder Cup got here on the proper time, based on Furyk. He’d been battling chest and collarbone accidents, so it gave him time to relaxation and recuperate. Watching the perfect gamers on the planet in France additionally motivated him to play properly.
“Watching the Ryder Cup and being with the perfect gamers on the planet, on each side actually, I do not know, it sort of re-energized me slightly bit,” he mentioned. “Three or 4 years faraway from actually enjoying my greatest golf, I sort of needed to see what I used to be able to.”
After ending No. 184 on the planet in 2016, Ian Poulter unexpectedly completed in a tie for second right here in 2017, which revitalized his profession.
Poulter, 43, had 4 top-10s and 9 top-25s in Tour occasions in 2018, with two extra top-10s in six occasions this yr.
“There’s been some low factors,” Poulter mentioned. “I do not wish to dwell on them an excessive amount of, however clearly it wasn’t too way back. I did kick-start what’s been a pleasant couple of years, and perhaps at instances you want slightly little bit of that [struggles] to have a unique perspective on golf. I believe I get pleasure from my golf a bit extra now than I did a few years in the past.”
Furyk and Poulter weren’t the one gamers over 40 who made an sudden cost. Vaughn Taylor, 43, went 67-70 within the first two rounds to seize a share of 10th place at 7 beneath.
“I am unable to put my finger on why, however I am swinging higher nowadays, which is sweet,” Taylor mentioned. “For lots of years there I used to be battling my swing and simply could not hit the fairways. I’ve accomplished a very good job of hitting fairways this week.”
Taylor hadn’t made a minimize on the Gamers since ending tied for eighth in 2006, lacking the weekend in every of his previous eight tournaments right here.
“It has been a whole lot of years and my sport’s modified rather a lot and it has been slightly little bit of a curler coaster,” Taylor mentioned. “I am nonetheless feeling it out. It has been some time since I have been within the combine. So I am simply making an attempt to go daily and see how I am feeling.”
When the important thing gamers hit the course
Saturday’s Notable Tee Occasions
PlayersStarting time (All instances ET)Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson8:10 a.m.Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama8:40 a.m.Francesco Molinari, Martin Trainer9:50 a.m.Rickie Fowler, Jhonattan Vegas10:50 a.m.Tiger Woods, Kevin Na11 a.m.Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar12:30 p.m.Patrick Reed, Adam Scott1:10 p.m.Jon Rahm, Rory Sabbatini1:30 p.m.Dustin Johnson, Byeong Hun An1:40 p.m.Jason Day, Kevin Kisner2:10 p.m.Jim Furyk, Ian Poulter2:30 p.m.Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood2:40 p.m.
When the climate began getting tough …
With an earlier date on the PGA Tour calendar, there have been extra favorable enjoying situations at TPC Sawgrass — and myriad low scores — within the first two rounds.
The climate is predicted to show over the weekend, nonetheless, with forecasts calling for cooler temperatures within the low-to-mid 60s and a 70 p.c probability of rain on Sunday.
Forecasts additionally predict the wind will shift to blow from the north or northeast at 10 to 20 mph, which goes to make the course harder. Gamers may need the wind of their face on holes Nos. 9, 17 and 18, that are already treacherous.
“Anytime we get a north wind within the 15 to 20 miles per hour vary and colder temperatures, your ballstriking must be extra exact,” mentioned Kevin Kisner, who opened with back-to-back 68s and is tied for seventh at Eight beneath. “I believe that is going to be the largest key, hitting the ball stable and hitting your shot shapes that you simply’re making an attempt to hit.”
Woods mentioned the Stadium Course was already enjoying slightly shorter than it does in Could as a result of the fairways have been overseeded with rye grass.
“Proper now, this golf course is enjoying actually brief, even for this time of yr,” Woods mentioned. “If we performed this in Could with these situations, the golf ball could be going endlessly. However with the overseed on the fairways the ball’s probably not operating. A number of guys are catching some mud on the golf ball, so it is a bit of a problem.”
If you happen to have been questioning the place they have been
Jordan Spieth (1 over) and Phil Mickelson (four over) weren’t the one notable gamers who missed the minimize. The others embrace Rafa Cabrera Bello (9 over), Paul Casey (Eight over), Zach Johnson (6 over), Henrik Stenson (1 over), J.B. Holmes (1 over), Marc Leishman (even) and Xander Schauffele (even).
Two gamers who want to stay within the high 50 of the World Golf Rankings — or win a event — to earn a Masters invitation additionally missed the minimize: No. 45 Shane Lowry (three over) and No. 49 Andrew Putnam (7 over).