I don’t know Bellerive from Bel Air. (In fact I’m not sure how to pronounce it.) But I’m told the fairways are wider than traditional bomb-and-gouge tracks like Firestone. That means well-placed shorter drives should be rewarded with better lines to attack the greens. Don’t count the Zachs out just yet!
The big hitters are jumping to the top of the leaderboard (except Kisner…). Woodland Koepka and DJ make three of the top four. Woodland also birdies 8 to tie Kisner at 10 under. He’s got one hole let to close out a spectacular 36-hole stretch.
Spieth makes his fourth par in a row at 5 after his opening double-bogey. He’s still stuck at +2. Yang drops his first shot of the day at the 15th. He’s now at -2. Patrick Reed who is also playing in the major champ group with Koepka and Molinari hit the green with his tee shot. But a three-putt earns him a bogey and moves him down to +2.
Although guys aren’t exactly testing the major championship scoring record out here it’s an incredibly bunched leaderboard. Only two players of the 100-plus on course are worse than six over — in the current conditions Bellerive doesn’t have any crazy teeth. Hard to make birdies? Maybe. But no problem sticking around par for most of the field.
Tiger will have some 25 feet left to finish out his round at No. 9. Tiger finds the fairway at No. 9; not so much for his playing partners who spray it left and right. For the first time since he teed off Woods is at even par. How will he finish?
Tiger hits a lovely shot from the bunker to give himself about six feet for par. JT is not happy with his chip but he only has maybe 8-10 feet to convert for his par. 178 left for Rory and he’s safely on the green pin high but not super close. Before him Tiger hit low shot from the left rough that ended up in the front right greenside bunker.
Patrick Reed has made back-to-back bogeys to fall to +3 through 7 holes. No one seems to be going really low this afternoon. Spieth saves par at 6 with a clutch putt. He really needed that to keep from really going off the rails.
It will favor bombers and there a lot of those. Take your pick. Rahm. DJ. Justin Thomas. Rory. Within that subset take the guy with the hottest putter which is far more variable and harder to predict. I like Tony Finau because…what’s not to like?
Your 2018 Open champions Koepka and Molinari both finish with double bogeys after rinsing their tee shots at 6. Koepka falls to +2 Molinari to +3. Y.E. Yang is making things happen early in Round 1: Dustin Johnson makes a second-straight birdie at 7 to get to -1. That’s more like it.
Back to our featured group. Jordan is in trouble on the par-5 17th after hitting it into the water but he almost holes his fourth shot to set up a potentially epic par from inside of five feet. Kisner and Woodland are three shots clear of the field.
Not a terribly easy shot and he hits an okay one but it carries too much pace and he’ll be left with about 8 feet for birdie. Thomas is putting for birdie from the fringe and Rory has a little work left for birdie too.
JT also misses his birdie attempt. And WOW Rory horseshoes out of the hole and he can’t believe it. That was painful. Tiger hits a pretty nice putt but it’s a big slider from left to right and he ends up just short. Will be an easy tap in for par.