No. 11 is a driveable par 4 playing 298 today — but it’s super dangerous with water in front of the green on the right side. It was the site of Tiger’s double bogey yesterday after he hit it in the water. Rose comes up just short on his birdie attempt while Rahm and Spieth have testers left for par. And they make them.
Fowler bogeys the first. Not the start he wanted…but hey Gary Woodland bogeyed the first Thursday. Thomas Pieters (BOMBER) joins the names near the top of the leaderboard at seven under. Fowler launched his approach long but makes a great pitch up to the hole. Will have a short par clean up from there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m surprised by the variety of big and short hitters at the top. DJ Rickie Woodland Day … and ZJ Gay and Kisner? Looks like Bellerive is more than a bomb-and-gouge setup which is what you want at a major.
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.
Rahm makes par! That was gutty stuff to stay at five under. Pumps his fist as it dropped. Top of the leaderboard taking shape. Koepka in the house at eight under. DJ one back at seven under. Saturday gonna be fun.
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.
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.