Once again, Olympia Fields showed off in Round 2 of the BMW Championship, just like it did in Round 1. The scoring average was a hair lower than it was on Thursday, but as co-leader Rory McIlroy (-1) noted in his post-round interview, the course seemed to get turned up a notch every 30 minutes or so.
While this might not be a great thing for viewers who want scoring, it does tend to identify the very best ball-strikes in the field in any given tournament. To wit: co-leaders McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay — who will play together on Saturday afternoon — are both in the top 10 so far in strokes gained from tee to green.
Let’s take a look at what both golfers did on Friday in a sweltering, puzzling Round 2 at Olympia Fields.
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T1. Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay (-1) — Cantlay’s big move on Friday came with a hole-out eagle on the par-4 11th hole, which was drivable. Cantlay holed out from 48 yards and used that as a springboard to shoot 33 (with a double!) on the back nine. McIlroy, too, took advantage of the short 11th. He drove the green and got up and down from the neck right in front of it for birdie. It was part of a hot start that helped him to his second consecutive round at par or better. This week’s story is the opposite of last week’s for him. After insisting over the first two days that he’s enjoying a “proper golf” test, he proved it with a driver that let him down last week at TPC Boston. McIlroy ranks first in the field off the tee and from tee to green, and if the putter takes off over the weekend, we could get a runaway champ.
T3. Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama (E) — It was a tough day for Matsuyama after he shot 67 on Thursday. He actually ran his score all the way to 4 under thru 8 holes on Friday but played his last 10 in 4 over to settle at even. You almost always look first to his putter, but hitting three fairways and just six greens was actually the culprit for his 73 in Round 2. Still, if he pars the next 36 holes (albeit a tall ask!) he’ll probably win. D.J. somewhat quietly got in the house with three birdies in his last five holes, including a bomb at the last that put him in the second-to-last pairing on Saturday with Matsuyama. I’m here for a McIlroy-Cantlay-Johnson-Matsuyama slugfest over the next 36.
T5. Adam Scott, Brendon Todd, Louis Oosthuizen, Tony Finau, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson (+1) — As much as I would like to believe in Brendon Todd winning the BMW Championship this week and challenging for the FedEx Cup next week, his strokes-gained putting numbers are disconcerting. Todd leads the field by a wide margin after 36 holes at Olympia Fields, and will almost certainly come back to the pack over the next 36. His company here is stiff and includes some of the better ball-strikers (Finau, Scott, Watson) at the top of this board. I would expect those to separate themselves from Todd over the next two days.
T11. Mackenzie Hughes, Kevin Kisner, Jim Herman (+2) — Kisner has been playing lights-out golf over the last few tournaments, and he’s been in the top 10 in strokes gained on approach shots over the first two rounds at Olympia Fields. Hughes closed playing his last four holes in 4 over on Friday.
T14. Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Matthew Wolff (+3) — Wolff is turning into Matsuyama Lite with the way he plays some of these events. The former collegiate winner on this golf course is top five in this field in driving and strokes gained from tee to green, but is getting crushed on the greens. That can change in a hurry, though, and he’s an intriguing choice to pop up a little bit over the next two rounds. I think that will probably go like it did at the PGA Championship, where he scared the lead but couldn’t sink enough putts to win the tournament. DeChambeau is also interesting here because it’s been a pretty quiet 3 over thus far. DeChambeau won the U.S. Amateur here back in 2015 and has quietly played well thus far. If only he can figure out the spin rates!
T56. Tiger Woods (+8) — Tough week for Big Cat through two rounds. He’s nearly last in putting so far this week over the first 36 holes, and at times has looked lost with what he’s even trying to do. He had a load of bogeys on Friday and one terrible double that displayed all of the facets he’s struggling with right now. After hitting his second from a fairway bunker over the green, Woods was unable to get his pitch on the green. When he did, he left a 5-foot putt … short.
Barring a miraculous weekend, he’ll miss the Tour Championship for the second straight year (after winning it in 2018), and we will next see him at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot.
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