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Shane Lowry
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The Roundup

Lowry fueled by links heritage

by Matt Cooper

Recap of the day

Morning wave: Emiliano Grillo and Dustin Johnson carded 67s to set the clubhouse target of 7-under 135, the Argentine golfer making an albatross-2 in the process. Just before the early starters completed their rounds a delay at 12.48 p.m. local time halted proceedings (“dangerous weather”) and the golf didn’t resume until 4.31 p.m. When that happened Rory Sabbatini (69) and C.T. Pan (65) reached 6-under 136.

Afternoon wave: Because of the significant disruption the second round was left incomplete. Trey Mullinax will be pleased to have reached the clubhouse, sparing himself an early alarm call after a 68 to total 8-under 134. Shane Lowry is 3-under for the round and 9-under for the week with two holes of his second lap to complete. Play will resume at 7.45 a.m. local time.

Leaderboard: -9 Shane Lowry (16), -8 Trey Mullinax, -7 Emiliano Grillo, Dustin Johnson, -6 Rory Sabbatini, C.T. Pan, -5 Sam Burns, Charley Hoffman, Scott Piercy, Ian Poulter, Billy Horschel, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ryan Palmer, Jason Kokrak, K.J. Choi (14), Graeme McDowell (13), Troy Merritt (12)

Notables: -4 Matt Kuchar, -3 Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth (12), -1 Xander Schauffele,

Cut: Currently predicted to be level-par 142

In line to MC: +1 Bryson DeChamebeau, +3 Francesco Molinari (12), +4 Jim Furyk (14)

 

Revised outright betting: D.Johnson 5/2, Lowry 7/1, Grillo 14/1, Mullinax 14/1, Fleetwood 20/1, McDowell 25/1, Poulter 25/1

 

Saturday weather forecast

Mostly sunny with temperatures in the low 60s, a prediction of zero chance of rain and wind of around 16mph.

 

Leaders at 36 holes

Shane Lowry (-9 for the week thru 16) – The windy weather is suiting the Irishman who has landed 27 of 34 greens in regulation and is 100% for scrambling. He’s made just one bogey in his 34 holes.

Trey Mullinax (68, 134) – Currently ranks fourth for SG: Putting (4.333) which is just as well. In round two he found just 5 of 14 fairways and a mere 11 of 18 greens in regulation.

Emiliano Grillo (67, 135) – Had dropped three shots on the 10th and 11th, but playing very well otherwise. Currently ranks third for SG: Tee to Green (6.403) and holed out from 254-yards with his hybrid for that albatross at the fifth.

Dustin Johnson (67, 135) – For a second day running he hit 13 of 18 greens and scrambled at 80%. Two bogeys through 36 holes is an improvement on recent times and he’s consequently flying high.

 

Fate of the favorites

Dustin Johnson – see above

Francesco Molinari (+3 for the week thru 12) – A definite Augusta drop-off. Only half the fairways in this second lap and just 41.67% of green in regulation.

Bryson DeChambeau (73, 143) – The scoring difficulties of recent times continue. Landed only 23 of 36 greens in regulation and was especially dire from the bunkers (1-for-5).

Xander Schauffele (70, 141) – Something of an Augusta hangover? He’s rattled seven bogeys through 36 holes and found only 15 of 28 fairways. He’s not scrambling too well either (61.54%).

 

Quotes

Emiliano Grillo (67, on his albatross) – “It was a perfect shot. Perfect distance. Perfect everything. Perfect wind. It was one of those that was good, but you never expect it to go in.”

Dustin Johnson (67) – “Around here the greens are tricky. I've always struggled reading them. But I hit some really nice putts and I played really solid. Hopefully, I can roll in a few putts over the weekend.”

Ian Poulter (67) – “These are the smallest green complexes we have all year and when you have a wind that's 25 mile an hour it's easy to miss these greens. Easy to get in a lot of trouble. So you've just got to be patient, take your time, know you're not going to hit a lot of greens in regulation.”

Kevin Kisner (68) – “They slowed the greens down so the balls wouldn't roll in the wind. That means it's hard to feel the wind breaking across the break, hard to judge.”

Matt Kuchar (69) – “It's one of those days where you have gone through your own struggles and fun to watch your friends go through it as well.”

 

Road to victory at Harbour Town

2018 Satoshi Kodaira – R1: 82nd, R2: 13th, R3: 12th

2017 Wesley Bryan – R1: 35th, R2: 10th, R3: 6th

2016 Branden Grace – R1: 1st, R2: 21st, R3: 5th

2015 Jim Furyk – R1: 36th, R2: 4th, R3: 5th

2014 Matt Kuchar – R1: 1st, R2: 4th, R3: 7th

Notes: Those last three winners have been quite off the pace at this stage and there are plenty of other 21st century champions who have been in the same boat. Stewart Cink in 2004 was T29, Jose Coceres in 2001 was T25 and back in 1999 Glen Day was T14. Of the last 20 winners no less than 11 were at least four strokes off the lead at halfway.

 

Fate of the halfway leaders at Harbour Town – where did they finish?

2018 Bryson De Chambeau – 3rd

2017 Luke Donald – 2nd, Graham DeLaet – 6th

2016 Kevin Chappell – 9th, Charley Hoffman – 14th, Jason Day – 23rd

2015 Troy Merritt – 3rd

2014 Ben Martin – 3rd, Jim Furyk 7th, KJ Choi 31st

Notes: How rare is it that The Roundup collates the recent halfway leaders and not one went on to win? Very rare. In fact, Jim Furyk in 2010 was the last man in pole position to press on and claim the win. Moreover, in the 21st century, the halfway pacesetters are just 2-for-28!

 

Focus on – Ian Poulter

The Englishman was in a chipper mood after posting his second round 67. “I've had some decent rounds around this place,” he said. “I haven't really finished a week off properly yet. But I feel this is a good golf course and it's nice to get here after Augusta, to get a little relaxation in. Last week was very tiring. This golf course is one I've played many times and I enjoy it.” A look at his past record shows he is 8-for-8, and that he also ranked fifth for Ball Striking in 2006 and fifth for Total Putting in 2015. He has three top 20s, but has really excelled in his last two visits. He was top five through 18, 36 and 54 holes in 2017 before finishing T11, then led by one stroke at 54 holes last year before ending the week T7.

 

Focus on – Matt Kuchar

Through his first ten visits to Hilton Head Island Kuchar had a fine record. He missed the cut on debut but never thereafter as he collected four top 25s. But his last five and a half starts have been startling. He won the first of those, was fifth in the second, then T9, followed that with T11, was T23 last year and he’s 4-under (T18) through 36 holes. At the conclusion of those 22 rounds he has 14 times been ranked top ten and 20 times been top 25 (assuming no remarkable change in the leaderboard first thing Saturday).

 

Matt Cooper