The Barclays: Second Round Still in Limbo

With 40 players still to finish their second rounds at Liberty National Golf Club, The Barclays is still up in the air in terms of who is precisely where on the leaderboard.

Because of the five hours of rain delays on Thursday, the second round didn’t get under way until 10:20 am. But that was just the first of the players who began trying to finish their first rounds which began in place at 7:00 am. And once again the field played until darkness at 7:45 pm.

Matt Kuchar has a 1-stroke lead through 13 holes at 10-under par. He will face a 27-foot birdie putt on the par-3 14th hole when the second round resumes at 7:30 am. It was too dark to reliably read the green. 

Tiger Woods is looking forward to watching that putt, because he has 12½ feet on roughly the same line. He is at 5-under for the tournament and needs to book some birdies in his closing holes to close the gap to set up his third round. The other difference is that Kuchar was 5-under to Tiger’s 1-under. Tiger started out great; 3-under through 5. But then slowly gave them all back by 11 by a loose shot here and there. The easy birdie on the par-5 13th was a nice note to end on.

The co-leaders in the clubhouse at 9-under are Webb Simpson (-5) and Gary Woodland (-7). This is good for the long-hitting Woodland because until he won Reno-Tahoe two weeks ago he’d sort of fallen off the radar; he was making a lot of cuts but had only 5 top 25s. Simpson is having a very nice year with $2.4 million without a win. He last won last year’s U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

And then you have three Tour heavyweights in the clubhouse at 7-under: Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley and Adam Scott, this year’s Masters winner. Justin Rose, this year’s U.S. Open winner, is also at 7-under, but he’s still got four holes to play.

Fowler is really happy because he’s come into the Playoffs with his game on the upswing:

This is the first time I’ve actually been coming in kind of moving forward with my game into the FedExCup Playoffs.  Every year I feel like I’ve been just kind of trying to hold on and finish off the year.

This year, after missing the cut at The Open Championship, I kind of turned a corner, swinging really well.  Just waiting for — kind of getting some putts to drop and I was able to do that today which was nice.

Probably the most confident and most kind of on upward climb versus a down hill spiral versus the last few years, so I’m excited about the Playoffs.  The further back I’ve been coming in, but I feel like I have a good chance of playing well, and a good weekend here would go a long ways and keep me going.

Obviously my goal is to make The Tour Championship; there’s Presidents Cup in the back of my mind.  I just want to play well right now.

This was somewhat surprising because he certainly doesn’t look like he’s in a downward spiral when he’s not scoring well. It just looks like the same loose shots everybody else hits. We think we’re the only ones.

Keegan Bradley also had a somewhat surprising day, but for a different reason: he shot a course-record 63:

I really started to putt awesome on that second 18.  I hit a ball out‑of‑bounds on the last hole this morning, and it was just brutal and decided that I was going to prove to myself that that wasn’t how I’m going to end this tournament.

So I decided to go out and just let it go, and I really seemed to play well on that second 18.

Once you gain even just basic competency in the game, “letting it go” is almost always a magic elixir. Freedom gives the swing efficiency and grace. Once we find that state, “all” we have to do is not interfere with it by starting to think again.

The other amusing surprise from Bradley is that is the first time he’s made the cut in this tournament:

Yeah, this is the first time I’ve ever made the cut in this tournament.  My rookie year, I just won the PGA, I had no chance. Last year, it was at Bethpage and it was really — it’s always a tough week, this week and next week.

But this week I’ve really kind of secluded myself and had room service every night.

But this has always been a tournament that I’ve always really wanted to play well at, and this is the first time I’ve even remotely come close to shooting under par.  So it’s nice.

Adam Scott was pleased with the way his 30 holes went on Friday:

Yeah, I’m pretty happy with today’s effort. It was actually kind of tough out there.  When we went out this morning, the wind was up, and the course played a lot tougher than the few holes I played yesterday.  Managed to adjust and have a good score out there today.

It was playing tricky at times today.  Wind gusting up a little bit and a few pin positions were tucked away making it tough.  But I kind of fed off Keegan a little bit.  He played beautiful and managed to get a few birdies.

Which makes Bradley’s course record even more impressive.

Only John Huh and Kyle Stanley are in the clubhouse at 5-under. But to provide a sense of just how fluid the leaderboard is at this point, joining Tiger on the course at 5-under are: Rory McIlroy (through 16), Charl Schwartzel (15), Hunter Mahan (14) and Camilo Villegas (11).

And finally, Phil fought hard to get it to 2-under for the tournament with three closing birdies over the last six holes:

It was not as easy as some of the guys made it look, I didn’t think.  I thought with the wind up, it was playing fairly tough and the greens were quick, but they were perfect.  If you get hot, you can make from a long distance, because they were rolling so true.

But with the wind up today, I thought it was fairly difficult.  The hard holes played really hard.  Although there’s some birdie holes, it’s not — I didn’t think it was that easy, but the scores were quite low.

But he, uh, likes the course:

I love this golf course.  I think it’s very well done, and without the rough, it plays — I would equate it to like Augusta National.

If Augusta had rough and 24‑yard wide fairways, I don’t think it would be a very fun or great golf course, and you would have the same criticism you have here in ’09.  Now with the rough and a first cut, I think the subtleties and nuances of the golf course are coming out and it’s spectacular.

Without being quite that effusive, the general consensus is that the course has been vastly improved by the design changes and the players now are enjoying the course.

That big sigh of relief you just heard were from designers, Bob Cupp and Tom Kite.

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