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Jonas Blixt
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The Roundup

Blixting the field

by Matt Cooper
Updated On: May 25, 2019, 5:00 am ET

Recap of the day

Morning wave: Kevin Na’s liking for the Colonial examination was again to the fore as he thrashed a brilliant 8-under-par 62 to claim solo second in the clubhouse on 8-under 132. Rory Sabbatini was behind him and alone in third after he fashioned a 66 for 6-under 134, whilst Nick Watney (68), Jim Furyk (66) and C.T. Pan (67) reached 5-under 135. None, however, could reach Jonas Blixt whose 64 set the early pace and left him atop the leaderboard on 9-under 131 as the afternoon starters hit the tee box.

Afternoon wave: Tony Finau’s 68 saw him join Na in a tie for second, but the later starters struggled to make in-roads. Jason Dufner threatened to before his 68 saw him join Jordan Spieth (70) on 5-under.

Leaderboard: -9 Jonas Blixt, -8 Kevin Na, Tony Finau, -6 Rory Sabbatini, -5 Nick Watney, Jim Furyk, C.T. Pan, Jason Dufner, Jordan Spieth

Notables: -1 David Toms, +1 Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose,

Low round of the day: Na’s 62

Cut: +2 142

MCs: +3 Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler, +6 Jon Rahm

 

Revised outright betting: Finau 3/1, Na 5/1, Blixt 11/2, Spieth 13/2, Sabbatini 12/1, Pan 20/1, Furyk 20/1

 

Saturday weather forecast

A temperature of around 80 should maintain, as will the cloudy spells, but the humidity will rise to a high for the week of 65%.

 

Leaders at 36 holes

Jonas Blixt (64, 131) – Bogey-free, had two birdie braces (1 and 2, then 12 and 13) and holed out from 132-yards for an eagle-2 at the 17th. Has landed 14-of-18 greens in regulation both rounds. Leads the field for SG: Tee to Green (9.222).

Kevin Na (62, 132) – Opened with a kick-in eagle-3 at the first and followed it with six birdies and 11 pars. His tally of 29 green in regulation leads the field at halfway. Ranks first for SG: Approach the Green (5.269).

Tony Finau (68, 132) – Played the back nine first and added nine pars then swapped three birdies and a bogey coming home. Has a hot putter this week and is second for SG: Putting (5.353).

Rory Sabbatini (66, 134) – Started from the 10th and ticked six birdies in eight holes around the turn, but then dropped a couple of shots coming home. He ranks first for SG: Around the Greens (4.421).

 

Fate of the favorites

Jon Rahm (71,146) – Reached the turn in level-par and then it went haywire. In fact he didn’t realize another par until his final hole of the day, making four birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey before he did so. Landing only half the fairways didn’t help and he’s got the weekend off.

Justin Rose (67,142) – The complete opposite of Rahm in that he sped to the turn in 3-under and then ticked nine boring pars on the way home. Needed 2.100 putts per GIR in R1 and dropped that to 1.636 in R2.

Jordan Spieth (70, 135) – Not hitting many fairways (13-of-28), and it led to fewer greens in regulation (9 instead of Thursday’s 11). Continues to excel with the putter, ranking first for SG: Putting (6.657).

Rickie Fowler (69, 143) – Hit the turn in 1-under, eyeing a cut-saving lap, but added nine pars on the way home. Ranked outside the top 100 in Putts per GIR and SG: Putting.

 

Quotes

Kevin Na (62) – “Some golf courses that fit your game and you got to take advantage of those weeks, and this is one of them. Some golf courses I feel like I have no chance. I don't play those unless it's a major and I got no choice. I won't mention any names.”

Jonas Blixt (64) – “I think a lot of guys have back pain on this tour. We hide it pretty well. You go through some lows. You're so young and dumb sometimes. Getting a little older you experience a lot more things.”

Jim Furyk (66) – “It's not a power-dominated golf course. It's a place you have to put the ball in the fairway. You're going to have to hit some shots and hold them against the winds.”

Rory Sabbatini (66) – “Played quite a few years injured, so battled through that. Starting to feel back up to 100%, it took a while to recover from my surgery.”

Jordan Spieth (70) – “Point is I'm putting with the right speed and I've been really solid inside 15 feet. It feels good. Kind of looks like they're going in with ten feet to go, that's really cool. It's been a couple years in the works.”

 

Road to victory at Colonial

2018 Justin Rose – R1: 8th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2017 Kevin Kisner – R1: 7th, R2: 1st, R3: 4th

2016 Jordan Spieth – R1: 9th, R2: 3rd, R3: 1st

2015 Chris Kirk – R1: 26th, R2: 15th, R3: 4th

2014 Adam Scott – R1: 64th, R2: 36th, R3: 11th

Notes: In the last 20 years the winner has been in the top five at halfway 13 times (including the last three years), but comebacks are not impossible. Olin Browne in 1999 was T30 (seven shots back), Sergio Garcia in 2001 was T24 (six), Rory Sabbatini in 2007 T40 (eight) and Scott, see above, was T36 (six).

 

Fate of the first-round leaders at Colonial – where did they finish?

2018 Justin Rose – 1st

2017 Kevin Kisner – 1st, Webb Simpson – 5th, Danny Lee – 6th, Scott Piercy 7th

2016 Webb Simpson – 3rd, Martin Piller – 6th

2015 Kevin Na – 10th

2014 Bryce Garnett – 30th

Notes: When David Toms won from first at halfway in 2011 he was the third man in four years to do so. But then nine men held the lead at this stage and failed to convert before Kisner and Rose broke the duck.

 

Focus on – Rory Sabbatini

The Slovakian who used to be South African and once even described himself as Texan has been reborn (as a golfer rather than literally) since surgery (see quote above). He was even moved to say after his 66: “I'm putting myself in position, giving myself a lot opportunities. It's the old rule of thumb: keep knocking on the door; it's eventually going to open. I can't say whether or not this will be my week, but all I can do is go out and put two more solid rounds together on the weekend and see how that all adds up.” The stats back that up because this season he has twice been top five with 18 holes to play (at The Heritage and the Byron Nelson Championship). The last time he was twice in such a position in the same season? Way back in 2013. And between 1999 and 2009 he was in that position 23 times.

 

Focus on – Kevin Na

The 35-year-old really does love Colonial. In his 11 previous visits, he has amassed seven top 25 finishes and four of them were top tens. Last year’s T4 was his best effort, but he has been atop the leaderboard at the end of a round in three of those efforts: after the first round in 2007 and also last year, and then through 18, 36 and 54 holes in 2015. His stats for the week compared to his career stats at the course make interesting reading. He’s found 67.86% of the fairways this week and he’s never found more than 66.10% in the past. He’s also landed 80.56% of the greens in regulation through 36 holes which betters his numbers in all previous 11 starts (his best is 75%). Scrambling? Currently 71.43%, the same as last year and he’s only topped that once (84.2%). What about putting, his traditional strong suit here? He’s needed 1.690 putts per GIR so far this week, a figure he has bested four of those 11 times in the past. What happens next? Does he continue to play above his average or will he regress towards the mean?