Recap of the day
Trying to get everyone through due to the poor forecast, tee-times were pushed up Friday. The 7:00 am start almost paid off but heavy rain in the early afternoon forced the action to be suspended at 14:11 local with five players tied for the lead at 10-under. Phil Mickelson, Lucas Glover, Scott Langley and Paul Casey were safely in the clubhouse while Jordan Spieth still had two holes to complete.
Round two is scheduled to resume at 7:10 on Saturday with R3 expected to begin as planned at 8:00 am.
Monterey Peninsula (MP): England’s Paul Casey came in with the low round of the day, a bogey-free 64 at the par 71 MP which was two lower than anyone in the 156-man field. It vaulted him 28 spots up the leaderboard and put the World No. 24 in that five-way tie. When the day ended, Casey, Scott Piercy (-8 after 15) and Branden Grace (-7 after a 69) were the only golfers on the Pebble-Monterey-Spyglass rotation to lie in the top 14.
Pebble Beach (PB): As at all three courses today, the early starters avoided the foul weather which hit in the final couple of hours and Lucas Glover made the best of the still tricky conditions with a 66. At Pebble, the later finishers had to deal with standing water on the 18th green, the grounds staff just about keeping the course playable by clearing the puddles with squeegees before Mother Nature won the day.
Spyglass Hill (SH): Four-time Pebble Beach champ and joint-R1 leader Phil Mickelson got done early with a 68, putting his feet up just before the nasty weather really came in. The left-hander led by two at one stage but bogeyed three of his final four holes. Scott Langley matched Phil’s 10-under lead thanks to a 69 while Jordan Spieth was also at 10-under with two to complete at Spyglass having played his first 16 in 5-under, all those birdies coming in his first seven holes. Jason Day (-9 after 15) is another who’ll return to Spyglass with the chance to join or take the outright lead.
Revised outright betting: 3/1 Spieth, 5/1 Day, 11/2 Mickelson, 6/1 Casey, 9/1 Glover, 22/1 Cabrera Bello, Langley, 25/1 Grace, Piercy.
Saturday weather forecast
Another cool, cloudy day with a couple of showers likely in the morning but hopefully none of the heavy rain which came in Friday. Temperatures max out around 55 degrees at 2pm while winds are around 7-10mph although will gust a little harder on those oceanside holes at Pebble.
Leaders after at 36 holes
Phil Mickelson (-10 overall, 68 at SH) – After hitting every fairway for the first time since 1998 in his R1 65 at MP, this was more the Phil we know and love. Just six fairways, a ludicrously brilliant wood from the rough at 14 which just missed a tree and fell out of the sky near the flag and seven birdies against a hat-trick of late bogeys. Has missed just five greens so far and poured in 14 birdies (T1).
Lucas Glover (-10 overall, 66 at PB) – Seven birdies and just a single bogey at Pebble for the 2009 U.S. Open champ. It suggests he’ll relish returning here both on Sunday and for another crack at his national Open in June. Split 11 fairways, hit 15 greens and gained nearly four strokes with the putter today.
Scott Langley (-10 overall, 69 at SH) – Matching his fellow lefty Mickelson so far although did it in much calmer fashion today. Just four deviations from par with two birdies and an eagle on the par 5s and a lone bogey of the day at Spyglass Hill’s 17th which dropped him back into a tie for T1. Has missed just three fairways this week.
Paul Casey (-10 overall, 64 at MP) – Paved the way for his best-of-the-day score with a run of six 3s from 13-18 which equated to an eagle, four birdies and a par. Added a final par breaker at 6 to tie the lead. Runner-up in Singapore on his most recent start and T8 here last year, Casey has dropped just one shot thru’ 36 holes.
Jordan Spieth (-10 overall, -5 at SH) – Had hit just 5 (of 12) fairways but 14 GIR out of 16 when play was halted with Spieth in a five-way tie for the lead and two holes from home. Made all his five birdies in the first seven holes after starting at 10. Clearly loves this event (see more below).
Fate of the favorites
Dustin Johnson (-3 overall, +3 at MP) – Still has two to play but was probably delighted to get off Spyglass after dropping from 6-under to 3-under with bogeys at three of his final five holes. Currently ranks outside the top 100 for Putts Per GIR.
Jason Day (-9 overall, -3 at SH) – By contrast to DJ, Day was en fuego at Spyglass, leaping up the leaderboard with birdies at 11, 13, 14 and 15 before the weather halted his late charge. 100% scrambling so far this week.
Tony Finau (-2 overall, +1 at MP) – Was having a rather flat day at Monterey Peninsula and would have been glad to get off and into the dry. He’d just carded 5-5-5 (bogey-bogey-par) to drop to +1 for the day and -2 overall.
Lucas Glover (66, PB): “When you came out of the trees down the 16th green, you could really feel it (the wind) and you cross the road to go over to 17th tee and ocean’s there and it was, alright, it’s here! They did a nice job setting things up early for us and getting us through.”
Rafa Cabrera Bello (68, PB): “The last few holes were very tough. Cold, rainy and windy as well but the morning it was quite pleasant. It was scorable I felt, warmer than other days for that time in the morning. Overall, keeping the scorecard clean is always a goal. Today I played really solid.”
Road to victory at Pebble Beach
2018 – Ted Potter, Jr. R1: 24th, R2: 35th, R3: 1st
2017 – Jordan Spieth R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2016 – Vaughn Taylor R1: 48th, R2: 18th, R3: 8th
2015 – Brandt Snedeker R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
2014 – Jimmy Walker R1: 6th, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st
Notes: Potter, Jr. was only T35 at this stage 12 months ago and eight shots off the pace but four of the previous eight winners had already hit top spot after 36 holes. And despite the vagaries of weather and different courses, only three of the last 16 winners were outside the top seven at the midpoint.
Fate of the halfway leaders at Pebble Beach – where did they finish?
2018 – Dustin Johnson 2nd
2014 – Jordan Spieth 4th
Notes: Anyone remember Sung Kang’s 60 at MP in round two? He shot 17 shots higher in the final round and slumped to T17, the joint-second worst fall down the board of any leader since 2002. One interesting find in the list of 36-hole leaders is Ted Potter, Jr. in 2013, making his victory last year just a little less bizarre. Generally, halfway pacesetters do well with 12 of the last 17 going on to finish in the top five, four of those claiming victory.
Focus on – Branden Grace
“I love this place. Last year was my first time, I played really well (T20), and I pretty much thought it suited me, all three courses. And it was one of those that was easy to put back on the schedule,” said Branden Grace after his opening 67 at Pebble. Despite a few blips in round two, he added another round in the 60s at Monterey Peninsula today, playing the par 5s in five-under and handing in a 69. After firing 67-64-69-69 to finish runner-up in last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Grace has broken 70 in his last six rounds. A winner on the PGA Tour at Hilton Head in 2016 when facing wind and small greens, it’s no surprise to see him flourishing again in similar conditions this week. And as for the U.S. Open at Pebble in June, his fellow South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen are both two-time winners of the event and Grace made a big run at it himself when T4 at Chambers Bay in 2014 while he was also T5 at Oakmont a year later. The obvious conclusion is to keep the 30-year-old on your radar for his return to Pebble in four months’ time.
Focus on – Jordan Spieth
Put Jordan Spieth on a routine PGA TOUR golf course and the results can vary. Often, he can lack spark. Put him somewhere different where the test is atypical, the lines asymmetrical and the creativity needs to kick in and often he will thrive. Hence, major wins at August National, Chambers Bay and Royal Birkdale. Spieth eluded to it after his opening round when asked if the challenging weather would help or hinder him. “I think it makes me become more feel-oriented which is better for my game. When it's just a dome it's very technical and I start thinking about how to hit every shot perfect or straighter instead of just playing the conditions.” It’s no surprise he has a win here and nothing worse than T22 in six visits. And, despite a sticky start to the season, it’s also no surprise to see him finding his mojo this week. Like Grace, he probably can’t wait to test himself in a US Open at Pebble.