Weekend Fireworks Brewing at The PGA Championship

It’s going to be an action-packed weekend at Quail Hollow.  Who will hold The Wanamaker Trophy tomorrow?!!

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – For much of the afternoon, it appeared that Kevin Kisner would carry a healthy cushion into the weekend at the PGA Championship as he looks to secure his first major title.

But then came the rain, transforming Quail Hollow Club from a burly obstacle course into a supple dart board. The bogeys that had dominated the scoreboard quickly turned into birdies, and suddenly Kisner has plenty of company near the top of the standings with the second round still in progress.

In other words, a major championship has finally broken out at the year’s final major.

Three of the world’s top 10 players will wake up Saturday in position to challenge for the Wanamaker Trophy. Chief among them is world No. 3 Hideki Matsuyama, fresh off his five-shot romp at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, who managed to draw even with Kisner by nightfall.

Matsuyama’s claim to the cringe-inducing title of best player without a major has always included a hiccup because he has yet to truly challenge for a title coming down the stretch. His runner-up this year at Erin Hills still saw him finish four shots behind Brooks Koepka, and he hasn’t felt the pressure of hitting a critical shot with a major trophy hanging in the balance.

But the Japanese phenom is in the midst of perhaps the best stretch of his career, having already won three times this season and coming off a course record-tying 61 at Firestone. A 103-minute weather delay Friday did little to stunt his momentum, as Matsuyama closed out a bogey-free 64 that seemed to require little effort and equaled the low round of the week.

Now tied with Kisner at 8 under, this undoubtedly represents his best chance for major glory that would provide a watershed moment for his homeland.

“I’m probably not playing as I did at the end of last year. However, I’m riding the momentum from the round that I had on Sunday,” Matsuyama said through a translator. “Hopefully I can keep that going for 36 more holes.”

But Matsuyama is not the only big name who cut into Kisner’s advantage in the waning daylight. Jason Day described his year to date earlier this week as “very, very poor,” and the Aussie is now improbably 15 months removed from his most recent win. But Day seems to save his best stuff for this event, having won two years ago at Whistling Straits and second last year in defense of his title.

Day was well off the radar before coming to life with an eagle on the par-5 seventh hole, which sparked a seven-hole stretch during which he was 6 under. In the span of a few minutes, Day went from also-ran to a title contender within two shots of the lead, one who appears to have once again discovered the confident stride that helped him start the year as the top-ranked player in the world.

“It’s been slowly building,” Day said. “It was nice to be able to drive the way I did today, and set myself up with the opportunities and being able to capitalize on those opportunities felt even better. Because they were the two things that were missing pretty much the whole year is my driving and my putting, and being able to combine that today just felt like the old days, which is only last year.”

Rickie Fowler is contending at a major for the third time this year, and having taken a tactical approach over the first 36 holes he sits five shots off the pace at 3 under. So, too, does Justin Thomas, who bounced back from six weeks of middling play with a second-round 66 under the watchful eye of his father, Mike, who still works as a PGA professional.

And if you needed any more proof that a major is officially up for grabs, Louis Oosthuizen has even come out of hiding and trails by only three.

The themes that started the week – Jordan Spieth’s Slam ambitions and Rory McIlroy’s effort to rekindle an affinity with Quail Hollow – have been shoved to the back burner.

But in their stead, a tantalizing collection of storylines have converged. The PGA Championship has produced a steady supply of weekend drama dating back to the twilight finish three years ago at Valhalla, and the 99th edition should be no exception.

Kisner could very well still leave Charlotte with the trophy, especially given his level of comfort through two rounds on a difficult track. But this much is clear: it won’t be as easy of a waltz to the finish line as it once appeared.

Source:  Golf Channel

Spieth, Koepka and Kuchar share Open lead

Fun day 1 of golf at The Open!  Tough weather coming!

SOUTHPORT, England – It is bunched at the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the 146th Open and some of those names are ones you’d expect to be there. Here’s a closer look at how it all went down Thursday at Royal Birkdale:

Leaderboard: Jordan Spieth (-5), Brooks Koepka (-5), Matt Kuchar (-5), Paul Casey (-4), Charl Schwartzel (-4), Ian Poulter (-3), Justin Thomas (-3), Richard Bland (-3), Austin Connelly (-3), Charley Hoffman (-3), Rafa Cabrera Bello (-3).

What it means: Spieth shot his 65 early, Koepka matched it a couple hours later, then Kuchar did the same later in the afternoon. All three were equally impressive and weather was fair for everyone most of the day, something that doesn’t often happen at The Open. While it’s great to jump out to such a great start for these three, and anyone else within striking distance, everyone in the field knows that the weather in Round 2 is going to be utterly putrid. So don’t let the Day 1 scores fool you, it’s going to get ugly quick and the next three days are going to be extremely trying.

Round of the day: On this day all 65s were created equal but Spieth’s was the most memorable. He only hit five fairways, but his iron-play and putting both were spectacular. Midway through the round (at 3 under after nine holes) Spieth started to have that strut that you may remember from his two-win major championship season of two years ago. He may not win, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he won’t be in the hunt on Sunday.

Best of the rest: Keep in mind that this was Koepka’s first competitive round in a month, since he hoisted the U.S. Open trophy at Erin Hills. He made par on the first seven holes but got hot with birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 13, then eagled the par-5 17th. Kuchar was 5 under on the front nine (shot 29) and then parred each of the last nine holes.

Biggest disappointment: It was going to be Rory McIlroy, until he birdied three of his last four holes to shoot 71. Instead, the (dis)honor goes to Masters champion Sergio Garcia. He was just 2 over late in the round with two par 5s left but he bogeyed the par-5 15th and then made double bogey on the par-4 16th. Birdies on the final two holes softened the blow a little but still, an opening 73 for one of The Open favorites was just not good enough in decent conditions.

Shot of the day: Charley Hoffman blew his opening tee shot right, then holed it for an eagle on the par-4 first hole. It was the first eagle on the first hole at Royal Birkdale since stats first were recorded in 1983. He made late bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17, but still shot 3-under 67.

Quote of the day: “I’d call it a top-five probably, major round that I’ve played. Maybe fifth or sixth, something like that. There are scores that I’ve shot that were closer to par that were better given what I needed to do. But I couldn’t have done much better today.” ­– Spieth

Source: Golf Channel

Jason Dufner Wins at The Memorial

It was a busy week in golf, on and off the course.  Congrats to Jason on a great win on a tough golf course!  He becomes only the second Ohioan to win at Jack’s place.

Jason Dufner had to wait out two weather delays, but he won his fifth PGA Tour title Sunday at the Memorial Tournament. Here’s how the final round played out at Jack’s house:

Leaderboard: Jason Dufner (-13), Rickie Fowler (-10), Anirban Lahiri (-10), Justin Thomas (-9), Matt Kuchar (-9)

What it means: Dufner opened with a pair of 65s and set the 36-hole scoring record at the Memorial. He went into the weekend with a five-shot lead, but he started the final round four behind Summerhays after a shocking 77 on Saturday. But Dufner knew he still had a great chance to win, and he proved it on Sunday with four birdies and no bogeys on the back nine at Muirfield Village. Tied with playing partner Fowler heading to the par-5 15th, Dufner made birdies on 15 and 17 to take control of the tournament. After a second weather delay, Dufner came out and played a nervy closing hole. But he slammed home a 32-foot par putt on 18 to secure the win, and he joined tournament host Jack Nicklaus as the only Ohio-born champions of the Memorial.

Round of the day: Anirban Lahiri went out early and posted a bogey-free 65 to grab a share of second place. Lahiri needed a good week coming off of three straight missed cuts.

Best of the rest: Fowler played a solid front nine with three birdies and no bogeys, and he held the lead for a short time after another birdie on the par-5 11th. He was unable to capitalize on the par-5 15th after a bogey at the short par-4 14th, and Fowler made a closing bogey to drop back into a share of second place.

Biggest disappointment: Summerhays started the day with a three-shot lead and had a great chance to win his first PGA Tour title. But after a double on No. 3 and a bogey on 4, he started to wobble. Birdies on Nos. 5 and 7 got him back in the mix, but Summerhays came home with three back-nine bogeys and another double at 18 for a 78 to finish T-10.

Shot of the day: Dufner found the right rough off the 18th tee, and he tried to hack out of the thick stuff but advanced his second shot only 75 yards. His third shot from the rough landed on the green 32 feet away from the hole. That’s when Dufner stepped up and drained his longest putt of the week to win the title.

Quote of the day: “I had to get over it quick.” – Dufner on how he rebounded from a Saturday 77 to win.

Source:  Golf Channel