Friday, 22 August 2008

Defending Champ Strikes Early, Catches Worm.

Defending champ Steve Stricker was quick out of the blocks today, two birdies and an eagle shot him right up the leaderboard early doors, and he pushed right on from there. Another three birdies on the back nine with no dropped shots saw him get to 10 under and in the clubhouse to see if anyone could match his pace. Nobody could.

His eagle came on the par five third, holing his third shot approach from 67 yards. He didn't fail to make the most of that slice of good fortune. Holing out superbly and hitting 78 % of greens in regulation, birdies on 11, 13 and 15 took him to one ahead of Hunter Mahan after his round of 62 yesterday. In his post match interview he responded to Sergio Garcia's early assertion that he thought around -10 would win it. Stricker felt that this week the winning score could be considerably more impressive.

"I think guys are going to learn how to play it every day, and I think the scores could even get a little bit lower, to tell you the truth. The weather is great, the course is in good shape, so I think guys will figure out a way to get it around and play it well"

There were some good rounds but not from the guy in the lead at the start of the day. Hunter Mahan had three birdies and three bogeys in his first ten holes, a very up and down round. It finally decided to go in the down direction however, as he took bogey on holes 5 and 9 to slip back to 7 under and three shots off Stricker.

Sergio, who might take a break from score prediction after Strickers antics, got himself got into the thick of things today, 6 birdies and two bogeys seeing him to 5 under after a 70 yesterday. He was joined on that total by Young Gun, and many peoples tip for the Fedex Cup Jackpot, Anthony Kim, who enjoyed a stretch of five birdies over seven holes in his round. Kenny Perry was also looking to be putting himself right up there going into the weekend, being four under after his front nine. Two successive dropped shots on 12 and 13 dented his challenge somewhat, but a birdie on the 17th got him back to 6 under and tied for third.

Paul Casey meanwhile failed to capitalise on his good first round performance. Finding himself two shots to the good for his round after 16 holes, he conspired to bogey 8 and 9, his closing holes, to post a par round of 71. Not what he would have been looking for but he is still well placed in that esteemed little group on 5 under.

Angel Cabrera could be a big gainer in the Fedex Cup play-off stakes this week if he maintains his form. Only 120 out of the 144 competing this week will go through to next week. Lying 131 in the redistributed points, he had to make the cut, and has done so in style. A clean round with four birdies sees him on 6 under.

Some of those not to fare so well included Ian Poulter, missing the cut by two and leaving himself with much to do to ensure a place on the Ryder Cup team. If he doesn't qualify automatically, he will need to do something good next week to increase his chances of grabbing a wild card over other players such as Darren Clarke and Paul Casey who are in form. DJ Trahan again had a bad week, and is not doing his potential wild card chances any favours.

Then there are the big men who have no Ryder Cup worries but are missing the chance to gain valuable Fedex Cup Points. Heavily fancied Padraig Harrington missed the cut like Poulter by two. South African pairing Ernie Els and Retief Goosen also failed to make it. It leaves them lagging behind those who do well this week and those who are up at the top of the leaderboard will be glad to see they haven't made it.

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