Dustin Johnson (Courtesy of AP Photo/ Scott Bazemore/ via kmov.com)

Johnson Posting Strong Numbers at East Lake

Through two rounds at the Tour Championship, the PGA Tour has seen a player in the running for the Fed-Ex Cup withdraw, a player penalized for addressing the ball and having it roll, and a lot of those cardboard cut outs of golfers face.

(I don’t know about you, but these things creep me out.)

To get things started, Dustin Johnson holds the lead at seven-under par. Johnson has been, as per usual, smashing the ball off the tee averaging 304.6 yards per drive, but he’s not just a one-trick pony. Johnson has also put up a strokes-gained tee-to-green of 2.24 and a strokes-gained-putting of .935.

Jason Day has withdrawn at East Lake this weekend after a recurring back injury flared up again. A strained ligament in his back is causing a sharp pain when it comes to his driver, and after going even par through seven holes on Friday, Day struggled immensely on the eighth hole and decided to shut it down for the season finale.

As for the player who was assessed the penalty during the second round, that would be Justin Rose. According to the officials at East Lake, when Rose addressed his ball on the 11th, the ball rotated ever so slightly. Rose disagrees with the wording of the rule that a downhill grade of four degrees is a flat surface. Unfortunately for Rose, that put him at one-over on the day and one-under on the tournament, putting him tied for eighth place.

 

The day wasn’t a loss for Rose. However, he got to spend the day trying to show up his good buddy, Jordan Speith.

 

Rory McIlroy (Courtesy of Getty Images/Via dailymail.co.uk)

McIlroy Claims Second Career Deutsche Bank Victory

Rory McIlroy snapped his winless streak of over a year this past weekend to claim the second Deutsche Bank Championship of his career. McIlroy finished the event at 15-under-par after getting off to a “slow start” shooting even-par on day one. McIlroy’s “slow start” can be attributed to his first three holes on the back nine of his first round. McIlroy opened the round with a par on the 10th, shot a bogey on the 11th hole and then to add insult to injury, a triple-bogey on the 12th. McIlroy wouldn’t be discouraged however, he fought all the way back from 4-over to get to even par to hang in the running for the title. Throughout the course of the next three days, McIlroy climbed his way up the leaderboard until he reached the top, and refused to come down.

The win moves McIlroy from 38th in the FedEx Cup standings to fourth. As you can see, he’s in pretty good company.

Headed into the final round, the second place finisher Paul Casey, seemed poised to win after carding three 5-under-par rounds in three days. Casey, the leader headed into the final round, had a troublesome start notching bogies on the par-5 second hole and the par-4 fifth. Casey tried to rebound after birdieing the par-5 seventh but just couldn’t seem to get anything going. The 16-year pro shuddered his way into the club house after posting a 2-over-par in his final round at TPC Boston.

Last week’s winner Patrick Reed played some solid golf this weekend after a spectacular finish last weekend. Reed finished tied for fifth at 10-under and with that, managed to keep hold of his number one ranking in the FedEx Cup standings.

As we head to next week’s event at Crooked Stick, I’ll leave you on the lighter side. (Just in case you felt bad about your putting.)

Patrick Reed (Courtesy of Eric Sucar and USA Today Sports/ via thescore.com)

Reed Holds Outright Lead at the Barclays

This week, the PGA Tour headed to Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York to open up the playoff race. Through two rounds at the Barclays, Patrick Reed has separated himself from the pack at 8-under.

Reed has found all of his success on the front nine in his first and second round scoring a combined 8-under and has had to claw his way through the back nine. On the back, Reed shot even par during both of his rounds but battled the Black Course’s last three holes on Friday afternoon going bogey on the 16th, birdie on the 17th, and bogey on the 18th.

 

Trailing two strokes behind the Reed are Emiliano Grillo and Rickie Fowler at 6-under. Much like Reed, both Grillo and Fowler have found a majority of their success coming on the front nine with both golfers each carding a 1-under on the back nine through their first two rounds.

 

The former FedEx Cup Champion Jordan Spieth currently sits tied for fifth at 4-under on the week. Spieth didn’t find much success during his first round shooting an even par, but that’s definitely better than digging yourself a ditch to climb out of. Spieth started to pick up momentum early yesterday carding three birdies and an eagle on the front nine, but a double-bogey on the 10th hole would hamper that momentum. Spieth would go stagnant for the next seven holes before recording a birdie on the par 4 18th to somewhat redeem himself on the back nine.

Jason Day currently sits at 4-under through his first two rounds. Day, like many others jumped on the gas and got to 5-under par through seven holes of his second round, but a collapse just at the turn would set him back a few strokes. A bogey on the par-3 eighth, a double bogey on the par-4 ninth and a bogey on the par-4 10th.

 

Live TV Coverage of the Barclays will start at 1 p.m. Eastern time on the Golf Channel, and then will switch over to CBS at 3 p.m., so if you’re reading this early enough, head on over and catch up on the latest PGA Tour action.

Walker Holds His Composure and Lead For First Major Win

Jimmy Walker sank a three-foot putt on his 72nd at Baltusrol Golf Club to capture his first win of the 2016 season and his first Major of his career. Walker’s win yesterday was the third time in the last twenty years that the PGA Championship was won by a wire-to-wire leader.

Walker’s 14-under-par almost wasn’t enough to outlast the number one player in the world, Jason Day. Luckily for Walker, Day was fighting from a deficit early after bogeying holes one and three. However, as Day does best, he put those bogeys out of his mind and fought back to 3-under on the day. Unfortunately, that score wasn’t enough to give himself a shot at back-to-back PGA Championships.

Walker’s win also capped off a season where Major championships all saw new faces in the spotlight. The winners of the four Major championships for the 2016-year were all first-time winners, making it only the fifth time in the Masters era that four first-time Major champions won in the same year.

The PGA Tour also broke the long-standing idea of “playing it where/how it lies,” and instituted the preferred lies rule, more commonly known as “winter rules,” for Sunday’s round. Given the steady rain and the conditions of the course, it almost seemed like a no-brainer decision to do so, but the PGA Tour has typically just let the competition play out.

Unfortunately, Henrik Stenson, who looked poised to make a run at winning his second major in two weeks, was unable to take advantage of the ruling and faltered in his final round after posting a 1-over 71, thanks to a double bogey on the par-4 15th hole.

Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka (Courtesy of Drew Hallowell/Getty Images via golfdigest.com)

This weekend’s event also saw the return of Brooks Koepka. Koepka who was (and potentially still is) battling an ankle injury withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational earlier this month citing the ankle injury. Koepka didn’t show any sign of injury this weekend after posting a tied for fourth finish at 9-under.

Other notable players: Hideki Matsuyama, 9-under; Jordan Spieth, 6-under; Phil Mickelson, 3-under; Zach Johnson, 3-under; Bubba Watson, 1-over.

Next week the PGA Tour heads to TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut for the Travelers Championship where Bubba Watson looks to shake off this week’s poor performance and defend his title from last year.

Walker and Streb Hold Lead Through 36 at PGA

Day two was a sight for the sore eyes of golf after the opening round at Baltusrol Golf Club chewed up and spit out the likes of Matt Kuchar, Rory McIlroy, and Dustin Johnson. Not one of the three men listed made the cut during this week’s major.

Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb

Jimmy Walker (Courtesy of Marco Garcia, AP via foxsports.com)

As it sits right now, Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb each hold a share of the 9-under-par lead.

Walker, a long-time pro on the PGA Tour, hasn’t had much luck this year since finishing sixth at the WGC-Cadillac Championship in early March. Since then Walker has missed four cuts and hasn’t finished better than tied for 14th in 11 events. Walker key to winning this weekend would have to be his putter. Over the last two weeks, Walker has found some life in his putter and wasn’t afraid to show it either sinking a 26-foot putt on the par-3 12th hole and a near 39-footer on the par-4 13th.

You remember Robert Streb don’t you? Well if you don’t allow me to refresh your memory. Streb was the golfer who made the putter wedge famous after accidentally snapping his putter midway through his round. You can find the videos of these putts by clicking here.

Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb

Jason Day (Courtesy of Reuters via independent.co.uk)

Streb, a relatively short-time pro since becoming a full-time PGA pro in 2011, has struggled even worse than Walker. Streb has missed nine cuts in 23 starts and with his best finish of 2016 being a tied for 18th finish at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. Streb’s success can be attributed to many things but also helps when you get on the green in regulation 75% of the time. Over the last two days, Streb has hit 27 of 36 greens in regulation but didn’t start capitalizing on those opportunities until his second round where he would go on to shoot a 7-under 63.

The Open Championship winner, Henrik Stenson, is currently three shots off the lead as he tries to win his second major in three weeks. Last year’s PGA Championship winner, Jason Day sits two strokes off the lead after 3-under and 4-under rounds in his first and second, respectively.

Round three will be currently underway as you read this but once you’re done, plop yourself down on the couch and tune into TNT from 1 p.m. EST to 7 p.m. EST to watch coverage of the third round as Walker and Streb try to fend off other golfers and more importantly themselves as they try to maintain their lead.

Johnson, Landry Tied for First at U.S. Open

With all players through one round of play and only some through their second, due to rain delays on day one and darkness on day two, the U.S. Open has found an unlikely leader in Andrew Landry and an old friend in Dustin Johnson.

Both Landry and Johnson are sitting at 4-under for the event, but Johnson played a 36 hole marathon and Landry has yet to even start his second round.

Landry did set a U.S. Open record over the course of his past two rounds. Landry’s final putt for his first round secured him the record of the lowest opening round for a U.S. Open at Oakmont. Landry will start his second round on Saturday morning at 7:11 AM ET.

For Johnson, leading a major isn’t something new. Winning a major is a different story. Johnson has 11 top-10 finishes in 28 starts at the four major championships that the PGA Tour hosts. One of those 11 finishes came last year when Johnson three-putt the 18th hole to lose the U.S. Open last year at Chambers Bay. Luckily this year, Oakmont is playing to one of Johnson’s strengths, distance off the tee. Johnson’s driving average after the first hole was 320.5 yards while the rest of the competition was at a much more conservative 282.9 yards.

Johnson has also been pretty accurate hitting into the fairways and really accurate when he was taking aim at the greens. Over his 36 hole marathon yesterday, Johnson hit 20 of 28 fairways and 31 of 36 greens. Johnson hasn’t had the best luck putting so far needing 32 and 33 putts in his first and second rounds respectively. Oakmont Country Club’s greens are extremely difficult, arguably the hardest in golf with green speeds approximated at 14.5 on the stimpmeter. (If you’d like to read up on the stimpmeter, you can do so by clicking here.)

While Landry and Johnson have been playing extremely well given the conditions, many others have been struggling profusely.

Jordan Spieth posted a two-over 72 in his first round but will look to best Oakmont during his second round.

Jason Day fared even worse than Spieth, posting a six-over 76 in his first round, but he managed to regain a stroke in the first 15 holes of his second round bringing his total back to five-over with 3 holes still left to play. Day is currently in danger of missing the projected five-over cut line which still has plenty of time to shift forward or backward given the golfers play.

Play will resume tomorrow at 7 AM ET with television coverage starting at 10 AM ET on Fox Sports One.

Players to Watch at The U.S. Open

The second of four majors gets underway this morning as golfers from around the globe try to take on the incredulous feat that is Oakmont Country Club. As I do every week, I’ve compiled a short list of golfers that I feel could take the tournament; this week, the U.S. Open. Here are three golfers that have the firepower and the experience to take home the U.S. Open and the 600 FedEx Cup points that come with it.

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Players to Watch at the AT&T Byron Nelson

After last week’s outstanding wire-to-wire finish by Jason Day, the PGA Tour returns to the place where he won his first title, the AT&T Byron Nelson at the TPC Four Seasons Resort. Day won the event back when it was named the HP Byron Nelson but that’s beside the point. Unfortunately, we common folk won’t be seeing the number one ranked player in the world this weekend as he’s taken this event off after last week’s finish at the Players. No need to fret however, here are a couple golfers that you should be on the lookout for this week at the AT&T Byron Nelson.

Jimmy Walker: After last years impeccable stint of play by Walker, he’s been fairly quiet this season only making the top-10 three times so far. I do suppose following up a season in which you recorded two wins, two second-place finishes and a third-place ranking for the President’s Cup is hard to follow up on. Last year Walker finished tied for second at this event with an aggregate score of 14-under-par, 263. Walker tees off alongside Jordan Spieth and Jason Dufner at 12:50 PM CT.

Bryson DeChambeau: DeChambeau is a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University and has taken the game of golf and flipped it upside down with his approach, which you can learn more about HERE. DeChambeau has had some struggles recently after ending the RBC Heritage tied for fourth, he was cut from the Valero Texas Open and the Wells Fargo Championship. This week he tees off alongside Brice Garnett and Bronson Burgoon at 1:40 PM CT.

Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has played relatively well logging four top-ten finishes earlier this season. Kuchar has had some success over the past month finishing T9 at the RBC Heritage, T42 at the Valero Texas Open and T3 at the Players Championship this past weekend. Kuchar, a seven-time PGA Tour winner, has finished in the top 25 at this event 4 times but has never won the event. Kuchar’s first step to changing that is teeing off alongside Brandt Snedeker and Louis Oosthuizen at 7:40 AM CT on the 10th hole.

Jason Day Goes Wire to Wire at the Players Championship

While the Players Championship may not be considered a major championship, it definitely makes the gap between the Masters and the U.S. Open a little bit more bearable and this year’s Players did not disappoint.

Leading the pack was none other than the world ranked number one, Jason Day. Day put up video game like numbers in his first round posting a nine under-par, 63, only to come back on the second and third days, thanks to a rain delay, to put up a six under-par, 66. Day would cool off on day three but it didn’t ruin his chances to take home the title because day three proved to be the toughest for nearly everyone who made the cut.

It’s almost like TPC Sawgrass has a dial hidden somewhere in the clubhouse for how difficult they want the greens to be on any given day and someone accidentally bumped it in between the time golfers finished their second round and started their third because it looked like they were putting on concrete later on in the day. I wish I was kidding but numbers don’t lie, there were 149 three-putts or worse recorded on day three. Day still maintained a four shot lead despite posting a one over-par, 73.

Day’s final round on Sunday was almost a disaster as he only hit three greens on the front nine. While Day wasn’t exactly successful to start the round, two over-par through nine holes, things could have gone much, much worse. Day would bounce back on the back nine and birdie holes 10, 12, and 16 to card a one under-par, 71. That would put him at 15 under-par for the tournament which was more than enough to bring home the $1.89 million first place pay out and his second wire-to-wire win this year.

Next up for the PGA Tour is the AT&T Byron Nelson as Steven Bowditch steps up to defend his title at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving, Texas.

Colt Knost Cards a 63, Will Wilcox Records an Ace

With play being suspended this afternoon at TPC Sawgrass, due to lightning in the area, some may have wondered if they would cut the Players to a 54-hole finish. Luckily that will be unlikely as play resumed at 6:10 PM EST. Play was suspended shortly thereafter due to a lack of light, leaving some to head to the clubhouse in the fading sunlight over Ponte Vedra.

I don’t know if the rain was just a fluke, but it sure seemed necessary because some players were on fire today; Colt Knost being one of them.

I’m assuming his name won’t ring a bell, but I’ll bring you up to speed. Knost was the 2007 Amateur Champion and had the potential to be the first person to card a 10-under, 62 at the Players, but came up one putt short on the par-4 18th. Knost’s par putt lipped out to put him above par on the hole and nine under on the day. However, Knost’s accomplishment isn’t something to be scoffed at he joins the likes of Greg Norman, Fred Couples, Martin Kaymer, Roberto Castro, and Jason Day in shooting a 9-under, 63 at TPC Sawgrass.

Jason Day had a stellar afternoon as well on Friday. Day currently has a three-stroke lead over Shane Lowry who sits at 11 under par for the tournament. The thing about Jason Day is that he still has four holes left to play to finish up his second round, so he has the potential to run away with the day before it even technically starts.

I also can’t forget about Will Wilcox who may not have had as fantastic of a day on the scorecard compared to the two men above, but he’s certainly on cloud nine. Wilcox sank an ace on the par-3 17th hole, a feat not seen since Miguel Angel Jimenez did it in 2002.

There has been a bit of a downside to this Players Championship. With the course conditions playing fairly easy, it’s put a strain on the leaderboard, which currently has the projected cut at two under par. That leaves players like Bernhard Langer, Jordan Speith, and Phil Mickleson in danger of missing the cut.

Play for round two will continue Saturday morning at 9:15 AM EST.