Today was the second round of the PGA Tour’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course) in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the home of the headquarters of the PGA Tour. This very full field tournament is regarded by the players and media as having the strongest field every year of any pro tournament in the world. Thus, many consider it the ad hoc fifth major. Early inclement weather today caused a temporary delay that led to the round being unfinished due to darkness. The following are some highlights of the first two rounds of the tournament, played yesterday and today.
Highlights of Day 1:
- Jason Day, the world’s #1 player, tied the course record with 63 for a two shot lead on the field. He has won the last six out of sixteen tournaments he has played. Jason is from Australia, but he plays the American Tour full time. His golf swing is absolutely flawless. It’s comparable to another Australian, Greg Norman, but better. Greg’s swing was very good, but he did swing somewhat shut to open. With a closed club face in his backswing, sometimes Greg blocked too much on his follow through under pressure that cost him some major titles, namely one Masters and one U.S. Open, both on the 72nd hole.
- 22 players shot 67, 5 under par, or better. That’s a record in itself. This TPC Sawgrass (Stadium Course) is very difficult. It has narrow fairways, lots of water hazards and sand bunkers, and some undulations in the greens that nevertheless putt very smooth and true.
- This is the first tournament Jordan Spieth has played since his collapse at the Masters. He had said on that first round, when asked by a TV interviewer, that he and his swing coach Cameron Mc Cormick thought his swing was fine. Then with a five shot lead with nine holes to play on that Sunday, he kept blocking shots to the right that led to a major collapse in Tour history, so that he lost by three shots to Danny Willett. See my two posts about Spieth’s blocky left arm swing flaw published before this collapse: April 10, 2016, “Jordan Spieth and His Blocky Left Arm,” and January 11, 2016, “Jordan Spieth Still Dominates.”
- One player, who marked his ball on the green with a coin, was standing by the edge of the green with a straight-down drop off into a water hazard. He then accidentally dropped his ball and it rolled and fell into the water. His caddie had to get into the water and retrieve the ball. The Rules of Golf state that you must continue playing the same ball you marked on the green and finish the hole with it. A similar incident happened during my career on the regular Tour. One year during the Byron Nelson Open at Preston Trails in Dallas, Texas, PGA Tour player Ed Dougherty marked his ball on the sixteenth green. (It may have been a Monday qualifying round.) He then wandered over to the front edge of the green, waiting for his turn to play next. As he was standing on the edge of the green, his ball popped out of his back pocket, fell to ground, and rolled over a similar straight-down drop-off made with railroad ties and fell into a water hazard. The difference between these two events was that the surface of that water at the sixteenth hole at Preston Trails is about ten feet below the surface of the green, and the water is many feet deep. Plus, I think the ball wasn’t even visible. Thus, it was virtually impossible for Dougherty’s caddie to get in that water and retrieve his ball. Consequently, Dougherty was disqualified. That may be the most unfair ruling I’ve ever heard of in golf. (I wonder, if that had been Donald Trump, would he have told his caddie to fetch the ball or “you’re fired!”)
Highlights of Day 2:
- Colt Knost also shot a 63.
- Jason Day had a three-shot lead after 14 holes when play was suspended due to darkness. Players still left on the course resume play of the second round at about 9:00 AM tomorrow.
- Star players who may miss the 36-hole cut by one shot, being one under par: Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, and defending champion Rickie Fowler.
- On Spieth’s last hole today, the 14th hole while playing with Jason Day, Spieth blocked his tee shot a surprising fifty yards or so to the right of the fairway. He doesn’t seem to know what is wrong with his swing. It should be obvious to a good golf swing analyst-instructor who teaches pros on Tour. He has a bent left arm at impact and for several feet of club path after impact on full shots. That produces pushed shots to the right of the target. It is a fundamental of the proper golf swing that the left arm be straight at impact for right-handed golfers. It is a myth that the left arm be straight at the top of the backswing.