The downfall of working in the golf industry is I very rarely get to watch live golf on TV. My busy teaching schedule and a four-month old at home doesn’t even leave much time for me to catch highlights. But today was the day! I blocked my work schedule and set an early alarm, I was going to watch golf all day. Here are my takeaways from day 2.
1) Royal Birkdale shines in dark, windy and gloomy weather
There may be nothing better than a links course when the wind picks up and the rain starts to fall. Day 1 saw relatively subdued weather, and scoring reflected that with 39 players under par. Day 2 saw only eight players shoot under-par rounds. Round 2 also saw the average score jump up two strokes, even with Zach Johnson’s 66 early in the a.m. Here’s to hoping the weather stays gloomy during the weekend for the maximum Open-viewing entertainment.
2) Jordan can run away with it
Speith has 10 Tour victories, and half of those he won by three or more shots. When Spieth is having fun and making putts, he is simply difficult to beat. Even after facing some adversity today with four bogeys on the card, he was able to keep his calm (unlike Bubba today) and play through the worst of the weather. Even having the more difficult end of the draw, he has made the most of his opportunities.
3) Hometown heroes in the hunt
Two Englishmen, Ian Poulter and Richard Bland, are within striking distance. If you had to rest your entire nation’s hopes on two guys, those two wouldn’t exactly be your top picks, but here we are. At the beginning of this season, Poulter was yet to secure a tour card after a long medical leave, but he scraped by and made enough money to keep playing. If there is one thing we do know about his game, however, is that he plays well with home-town advantage.
To be honest, I can’t use not watching a lot of golf as an excuse for not knowing who Richard Bland is. And after some brief research, I soon realized why. He has only played two majors before in his career and his last Open championship was 1998, where he missed the cut. Bland plays the Challenge Tour over in Europe and only has one win in 21 years. The fact this guy made the cut is incredible, and now he finds himself among the world’s best. I wouldn’t bet against either of these guys with an entire country coming out this weekend to cheer them on!
4) Kuchar is still in second
With Speith in contention, very little is being said about even his closest competitors. For Matt Kuchar, that may prove to be a positive. Kuchar is an understated, quiet guy by nature and I have to think it can only help him if the spotlight remains on someone else. In the past 10 years, Kuchar has missed only three cuts in majors, and with eight top-10 finishes, he may be poised to break through.
5) Major Cuts
As with any major championship, some big names are packing up and heading home early. The Players Champion, Si-Woo Kim, followed his opening round 70 with 76. Justin Thomas put up a second round 80 after looking like one of the favorites after round one. And Phil Mickelson had a week to forget with rounds of 73-77 making us wait even longer for the Phil, Bones reunion of a different kind.