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Inclement weather rolled into the Fort Worth area Friday afternoon. While players in the morning hours had great scoring conditions, those in the later wave had to contend with rain and an eventual weather delay. Their patience paid off as once the lightning passed and play resumed, pristine conditions arose with many taking advantage.
Sergio Garcia will lead our discussion as his Friday morning was one of those “what could have been” rounds. The putter, as you may have guessed, let down the co first-round leader. Gaining nearly two-strokes in the ball-striking department, Garcia left numerous birdie opportunities by the wayside. It ended up being a round of 1-under 69 for the man 20 years removed from his victory at Colonial CC.
One player who was able to back up his first-round was Jason Kokrak. The 2020 CJ Cup champion has been trending in the right direction for the past couple of months. A pair of 65’s puts Kokrak one-stroke back of the lead heading into the weekend. I wouldn’t expect him to go anywhere over the next couple of days as the game appears to be well-balanced with no glaring weak spots.
A man on the golf course late in the day, due to the afternoon delay, was Jordan Spieth. Having only played a couple holes before the stoppage, Spieth was able to add an early birdie to sit at 8-under before heading into the “Horrible Horseshoe.” After making a birdie on the 3rd hole, Spieth’s putter let him down. Much like Garcia, the round left a lot to be desired, but unlike Garcia he was able to hold onto the lead.
He still sits as the heavy favorite as he found a way to get to 11-under by the end of his second round. The oddsmakers at PointsBet Sportsbook have the Valero Texas Open winner at -105 as it stands.
It’s obviously less than ideal to post a round recap when the round is in fact incomplete. The best I can tell, the cut-line will be 1-over, so those in at that number should be safe and into the weekend. We will target a couple of those players who are ensured of two more rounds and see if they can make a move up the leaderboard.
Updated Odds to Win (via PointsBet):
-105: Jordan Spieth
+500: Jason Kokrak
+1300: Sergio Garcia
+1600: Charley Hoffman
+2000: Collin Morikawa
+3500: Adam Hadwin
+4000: Maverick McNealy
Round 3 Plays:
Collin Morikawa (+2000 to win):
It’s a different week, but it’s the same story for Morikawa. He’s leading the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, but towards the bottom half on and around the greens. So that begs the question…can this week be similar to the WGC Workday? At The Concession Golf Club, Morikawa started slow with his putter but was eventually able to find his way on the greens.
The putting stroke hasn’t looked all that bad over the first two rounds, so I am a bit optimistic of his chances to flip the script. If the putter doesn’t improve, there’s still a slim chance that Morikawa’s irons alone could advance him up the leaderboard.
Outside of Spieth, there aren’t many “big hitters” ahead of him as of now. Yes, Kokrak and Garcia have won this season, but this tournament’s door was left wide open when Spieth wasn’t able to take advantage of his numerous birdie opportunities. With the lead at 11-under, I’m comfortable with Morikawa starting six-strokes back with 36 holes to play.
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Tony Finau (+5000 to win):
With the lead at 11-under with two rounds to play, then those players at 4-under are the farthest back I would go. Of the bunch, Finau draws me in. Like a fly to a flickering light, the number is too attractive, that no matter how much future pain may be in store, I can’t help but touch it. Everyone take a deep breath as I am sure you’ve seen this movie before and the ending isn’t pretty.
But I want to provide some hope, because we’ll all be in this together. Finau’s Friday round was impeccable tee-to-green, ranking 7th in the field for the week. Highlighted by a birdie on his opening hole from the greenside bunker, Finau’s around the green play has been fantastic thus far. As with Morikawa, the putter will need to improve if Finau wants to capture his first victory in the continental United States.
This feels like the type of spot where Finau would breakthrough. Starting far enough back where people aren’t chatting about him, but not far enough back where he is completely out of the tournament. It may be a strange theory, but with Finau you need to justify your actions and that’s exactly what I am doing.
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