The sheer number of red numbers on the leaderboard was a pleasant surprise. Rickie ZJ DJ JDay all in the mix on the first page. That’s all we want in a major championship isn’t it? Well that and Tiger contending. But even he isn’t so far off that it’s out of the question.
Rory hits a beautiful approach setting up a short birdie try of about six feet. TW hits a pitching wedge that refuses to spin back toward the hole leaving him with about 15 feet for birdie. JT also hits a solid approach to about 15 feet away from the hole.
Okay folks Dylan Dethier here to take you through the next couple hours. Reporting live from the media center here at Bellerive and Tiger just hit a high soft chip from the collection area that grabbed and sat about five feet short.
Some guys are really making moves today. Kisner at the top at nine under still Woodland at eight under and Stone and Koepka at six. Rose has a tester left for par on 18 while Rahm and Spieth have looks for birdie.
Charl Schwartzel misses his chance at 62…but he makes a 4-footer for 63 which is a record folks. 63s don’t come around often…but they are today. Rickie Fowler tees off five shots back. Scoring conditions are RIPE today. Course average is under par.
Patrick Reed (+2) stops the bleeding with a birdie at 9. 52-year-old John Daly is off to an impressive start. He’s made one birdie and two bogeys to go +1 on his first nine.
Woods swinging two-iron at No. 7 and that’s nice and smooth right down the middle. JT joins him in the fairway. Up ahead Rickie Fowler moves to five-under with another birdie! He’s got a two-shot lead.
Tiger’s birdie never has a chance and he taps in for par. Rory putts to tap-in range for his par and JT misses his birdie attempt on the low side. Now it’s Tiger’s turn. Rickie Fowler birdied No. 7 to get to -4 with two holes to play. He’s the outright leader now with Stewart Cink hanging in at one shot back.
Kyle Stanley is the only player on the course at -3 after a birdie at 1. DJ fails to make it four in a row at 9. He taps in for par to remain three shots behind Fowler at -2.
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 biggest surprise is just how few surprises there were! The leaderboard seems to be going according to plan. The top 7 players in the world are all under par in stark contrast to the superstar carnage at the U.S. and British Opens. The best players appear to be playing the best. Bring on the weekend!
A near miss for Rory’s birdie and Tiger follows suit coming up just short. JT also comes up short from the fringe and taps in for par. So ho-hum on No. 3 for our trio. No. 3 is playing 153 yards today. TW hits a safe shot to about pin high 20 feet from the cup. JT takes a more aggressive line and ends up just off the green on the fringe. And Rory hits a safe shot like Tiger also 20-25 feet from the hole.