With everything Thursday produced at Colonial—Bryson DeChambeau’s incredible Hulk routine, Jordan Spieth shooting a back-nine 30, Justin Rose looking like his former No. 1 self, Harold Varner III grabbing a share of the lead—Friday in Fort Worth had a tough act to follow.
Not only did the second round match the first punch for punch, it may have won in a 12th-round knockout. DeChambeau put on another fireworks show, hitting 10 drives 330 yards or longer and shooting another 65. Spieth went full Spieth. HV3 backed up his strong first round with a 66 to be the sole leader. And the leader board has the look of a major. Before we move on to what should be a special weekend at the Charles Schwab Challenge, here are our five takeaways from another highly entertaining day of golf.
*Extreme Bill Simmons voice* “Is Jordan Spieth having a moment?”
Spieth’s first-round 65 was cute, a nice step in the right direction. It was also the same story we’ve seen countless times in the last year, and the next chapter usually involves a second-round 73.
Instead, we got by far the most electric round of the day, a show only Spieth is capable of putting on. He made eight birdies (good), including three in a row (very good), and one disastrous double in which he four-putted from 30 feet (bad), three of those coming from less than three feet (very bad). After following that with a bogey, Spieth could have fallen completely off a cliff, but he quickly responded with back-to-back birdies and eventually got to the house with another 65 to reach 10 under.
Now comes the part that’s plagued Spieth the most during this “slump”: the weekend. Prior to the coronavirus, he ranked 158th in third-round scoring average and 171st in the fourth round. Last year was a similar story, as Spieth finished the season 170th and 187th in those same two categories. Is it finally time to believe tomorrow (and Sunday) will be different for Jordy? We won’t know until it happens, which is the best. God, it’s good to have live sports back.
Xander Schauffele is two back. Wait, Xander Schauffele is two back?
Xander Schauffele’s first two rounds at Colonial have basically been the story of his career. He thrusts himself into contention with very little fanfare, and then on the weekend makes sure that his play becomes impossible to ignore.
Seriously, have you seen a shot of his on TV this week? Maybe the broadcast showed one or two I missed yesterday, but that’s about it. As for Friday, he went off in the morning and wasn’t in a PGA Tour Live featured group, so only his two playing partners and the group’s caddies saw his second-round 66. Corey Conners has gotten more screen time this week.
Anytime there are this many studs in the field, it’s going to be hard to give them all love before the weekend. But Schauffele’s play over the last few years puts him in the elite class of player who deserves to be thrown a bone more often than not. Sitting at T-3 and just two off the lead of Varner, he’ll be in one of the last three groups off the first tee tomorrow. In other words, he’ll be impossible to ignore, as usual.
Collin Morikawa MBTG (Might Be The GOAT)
MBTG is a very popular acronym in the Golf Digest web team group chat, and it’s thrown around quite liberally (mostly by yours truly). No, I’m not saying Collin Moriakwa is actually golf’s GOAT, but if he keeps up this torrid pace, anything is possible. He’s now made 22 of 23 cuts on the PGA Tour, his only miss coming when he was still an amateur at the 2017 Safeway Open.
Through 36 holes, Morikawa ranks seventh in the field in strokes-gained—approach the green and fourth in strokes-gained—tee-to-green. By the way, of his 11 starts this year, he’s finished in the top 25 seven times, so it’s not like he’s sneaking inside the cut line and fading on the weekend. This week, he’s going off in the second-to-last group on Saturday alongside DeChambeau, a pairing that will get plenty of run on the broadcast. It’s simply ridiculous. For all the Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland talk, there’s a pretty good chance this guy ends up being the best of the trio.
Thursday I said the leader board showed that there was very little rust shown by some of the world’s best. But not everyone was immune to a little post-pandemic swoon. Jon Rahm, who had finished inside the top 10 in seven of his last eight worldwide starts, which included two wins, could never get it going on Friday. The world No. 2 finished runner-up here in 2017, but won’t play this weekend. It’s the Spaniard’s first missed cut on any tour since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last September, and his first PGA Tour missed cut since last year’s Charles Schwab Challenge.
Other trunk-slammers: Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Webb Simpson and Dustin Johnson.
Despite that strong group of names making an early exit, the leader board remains stacked. Varner (11 under) leads the way with Spieth and DeChambeau just one behind. Then there’s Morikawa, Schauffele and Rory McIlroy at nine under, while Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland and first-round leader Rose are at eight under. At four under, Brooks Koepka has some work to do, but he’s definitely lurking and will be in fire-at-the-flag mode on Saturday. It’s shaping up to be a very special weekend at Colonial. Not much more you could ask for as a golf fan.