Recap of the day
Chez Reavie made the early headlines, claiming a hole-in-one at the ninth hole on his way to a 64 that left him on 6-under for the tournament. A delay followed before Matt Kuchar (72) and Patrick Reed (70) joined him on that number, then Patrick Cantlay (71) moved one clear of them and Paul Casey proved his affinity for East Lake with a 67 for 9-under and solo fifth. However, there is a split. Xander Schauffele drained an eagle putt on the final hole to shoot 69 for 11-under, alone in fourth. Rory McIlroy (67) and Justin Thomas (68) reached 12-under and then, with a two-putt birdie at the last, Brooks Koepka (67) sneaked one shot clear of them.
Revised outright betting to win the FedEx Cup: Koepka 6/4, McIlroy 12/5, Thomas 4/1, Schauffele 6/1, Casey 20/1, Cantlay 33/1
Saturday weather forecast
Not great. Afternoon thunderstorms are a possibility and there’s a 50% chance of rain. Nothing more than a 5 mph breeze to play that all away. Temperatures in the high 70s.
Leaders at 36 holes
Brooks Koepka (67, 13-under) – Ticked a birdie hat-trick late in the front nine then was tripped up by the delay, bogeying the 13th and only getting the shot back at the last. Best aspect of his game (measured by SG) is Putting – ranked third, gaining 2.968 strokes.
Justin Thomas (68, 12-under) – Three front nine birdies then the delay also hurt him; he would only add eight pars and a bogey coming home. Struggling with SG: Approach the Green (20th and -1.485).
Rory McIlroy (67, 12-under) – Made bogey at the first and then was serene, adding four birdies and 13 pars. Ranks top ten for all SG categories (leading Around the Green on 2.008).
Xander Schauffele (69, 11-under) – Endured a tough period around the turn (three bogeys in four holes), but rebounded late with a birdie-3, eagle-3 finish. Ranks top three for the three SG long game categories.
Fate of the favorites
Justin Thomas – see above
Patrick Cantlay (70, 71) – He leads the field for SG: Approach the Green (4.869), but trails in at 27th for SG: Putting (-3.325) and bottom for SG: Around the Green (-2.163).
Brooks Koepka – see above
Rory McIlroy – see above
Paul Casey (67) – “I’m moderately happy. Pins were tucked. Looking to sort the boys from the men today. A different golf course. I hit the wrong club on the approach to the last, my fault.”
Justin Thomas (68) – “I played really well on the front nine. Disappointed with the finish and how I played after the weather delay. I love this golf course. It rewards good golf and punishes poor golf.”
Rory McIlroy (67) – “The weather delay helped me. I was stuck in neutral and gave myself a goal to play the last few holes in 3-under and it worked out. I got away with my tee shot on 18, had a nice gap, was able to get my birdie to close. Definitely rode my luck.”
Brooks Koepka (67) – “Pretty pleased. Stalled after the rain delay but putted very well and played the 18th well. I’ve got comfortable with my putter the last few days.”
Road to victory at the Tour Championship
2018 Tiger Woods – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2017 Xander Schauffele – R1: 17th, R2: 8th, R3: 2nd
2016 Rory McIlroy – R1: 7th, R2: 5th, R3: 3rd
2015 Jordan Spieth – R1: 5th, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
2014 Billy Horschel – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
Notes: Obviously this is not the easiest comparison to make when the format has changed. But only three of the last 18 winners were not T6 or better after 36 holes and all were within five swings at this stage.
Focus on – Paul Casey
In the first of this week’s Roundup’s Dave Tindall noted Paul Casey’s fondness for East Lake and he certainly backed that up in the second round, adding a 67 to his Thursday 66 to tie the lead the plain scoring for the week. Although he has a sensational East Lake record (twice fourth, twice fifth, once T11) it is notable that his 67 on Friday was something of a rarity. Because whilst he averaged 66.60 in round one in the past (and improved on it on Thursday), averages 68.00 in round three and 69.40 in round four, he has often struggled in round two. He has the worst average of the four days (69.80) and has broken par just once in five attempts. Make that two in six and keep an eye on him this weekend.
Focus on – Chez Reavie
At first glance you might think that the 37-year-old’s second round of 64 is the outlier in his East Lake record. After all, on his debut in 2011 he only finished T26. And yet, in actual fact, it was his first round 71 which bucked the trend. Because eight years ago Reavie proved he could go high and low at this course. He carded two superb rounds of 66 and 68, but also limped home in 77 and 74. His 64 was one of the former, he’ll hope to steer clear of more of the latter this weekend.
Focus on – DJ dozing
Remember the final round of the PGA Championship at Bethpage? Brooks Koepka held a seven-shot lead at the start of it and with a few holes to go his good friend Dustin Johnson had reduced that margin to one. Whereupon he made bogeys at 16 and 17 – and Koepka claimed a fourth major championship win. Since then Johnson has made seven starts ahead of this week with a best of T20 (at the Canadian Open and WGC St Jude Invitational). This week he is on course to make it eight starts without a top ten. This, remember, from a man who made 15 top tens in his previous 24 starts.