I’ve underestimated him at two of the majors this year but I expect Jordan Spieth to contend deep into the weekend at this one so what the heck: why not just win it and finish the career slam right here? Bellerive is tree-lined with deep penal bunkers and big greens.
A group of my buddies have been going through this exact debate in thinking about a future golf trip; I’ve never been to either so I’m little use but I’d have assumed Scotland would get the nod. Needless to say Coyne has me intrigued…
Woods and Thomas are safely on this par 4 but outside 30 feet. Rory from 115 yards with a little tree trouble…and it’s a flyer that stays on the green maybe 30 feet above the hole. No great birdie looks from the group here.
Tiger hits a nice bunker shots that nearly drops in the hole leaving him about four feet for par. My goodness. Tiger makes the same mistake and ends up in the bunker behind the hole. Rory meanwhile stays below the hole setting up a makeable birdie from about 12 feet.
138 yards left for JT. This is a big green with the pin cut on the very back. JT overcooks it just a bit and it hangs on the fringe of the green off the back about 10 feet from the hole.
Rory. The driving game he showed in Akron for one thing. Also how long can you keep a good man down? Sleeper: Bryson. He’s earned his place in the darkhorse category because of the talk around him. Example: he’s choking his way off the Ryder Cup team (some people will say) he had a fit of driving-range craziness (some will say) at the Open and he was classless and looked lost (some will say) in the final day in Germany.
I wouldn’t be worried about Tiger’s fatigue this week. It’s the last major of the year and Tiger’s attention will be squarely placed on attacking Bellerive. He can take his foot off the gas at the Northern Trust and nobody will hold it against him…
At 425 yards No. 1 is one of the shorter par 4s at Bellerive. Rory and Tiger find the fairway while it looks like JT ends up in the left-side bunker. Leaderboard update: Four players are now at -3: JT Rafa Cabrella-Bello Stewart Cink and Rickie who birdied two of his last three holes!
Sleeper: Kyle Stanley. I had Stanley locked in as a sleeper last week; his runner-up finish at Firestone makes him slightly less sleepy but I like the way his ballstriking sets up for Bellerive. Plus there’s the added potential bonus of Stanley completing the Former Nike Staffer Without a Club Deal Grand Slam.
No. 18 is a dogleg left. No birdies thus far today. Tiger and JT find the fairway while Rory loses his drive in the rough on the right. Tiger drains a testy little five-footer for par and JT and Rory clean up too. On to the 18th.
The U.S. seems strong but it’s worth mentioning that a few guys who look like solid bets to be on the team — Bubba Webb and Tiger to name three — haven’t had much success in the event. I think it’s a coin-flip as most Ryder Cups are these days. But in the meantime keep talking Monty! It only adds to the anticipation.
Justin Thomas meanwhile pars the 16th to remain -3 and tied atop the leaderboard with Stewart Cink. Greetings folks. Jess Marksbury with you for the next two hours. And I’m just in time for another Tiger bogey on the par-3 16th. Bummer. He falls to +3 for the day.