Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura will head into the weekend atop the leaderboard alongside the team of Tony Finau and Cameron Champ. The pair of teams sit at 13-under par, but with a round of best-ball and a round of alternate shot yet to be played, it’s still anyone’s tournament.
The overnight leaders, Hovland and Ventura, played a relatively stress-free round of golf outside of one poor shot from Hovland. An approach shot from a fairway bunker on the par-4 16th found the water, eventually leading to a double-bogey. That was the team’s only mistake of the day as they would rebound and go on to shoot a round of 3-under 69.
Similar could be said of Finau and Champ. The self-proclaimed “Team Send-It” shot a round of 4-under 68, which tied for the low round of the day with Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose. They too played a relatively stress-free round of golf. Their only blunder came on the par-4 12th when Finau missed a five-footer for par. To me, that’ll be the be the biggest question heading into the weekend. Will Finau and Champ continue to make putts or will both players go ice cold like we have seen in the past?
Behind the co-leaders are a number of teams capable of running hot. You have the European stalwarts of Stenson and Rose at 11-under, who have proven in the Ryder Cup that they can go toe-to-toe with anyone. At 10-under is the South African tandem of Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. And at 9-under are Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman, who are arguably the most dangerous of the chasing pack.
All in all, the tournament that was a total crapshoot Thursday morning is still a crapshoot after two days of play. What I said in my Round 1 recap remains to be true. It’ll be difficult to identify a potential winner moving forward. Yes, our job was made a bit easier today having seen the teams play alternate shot, but without Strokes Gained data we are left with unconventional methods.
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Updated Odds (via PointsBet Sportsbook):
With plenty of golf yet to be played, I think it’s wise we forgo the outright market and instead look to place bets. Only 33 teams made their way through the cut, giving us a great opportunity to select a team to finish inside the top-5 or top-10. With this in mind, I’ll be targeting the team of Lewis and Pieters. Being a Ryder Cup year, motivation should be at an all-time high for these two, especially Pieters who would in theory thrive at a course like Whistling Straits.
Sitting at 7-under for the tournament and having played alternate shot in 2-under, they are positioned nicely to make a run over the weekend. Through Round 2, the duo is only 3-under on the par-5’s. That’ll certainly need to improve if they want to make a climb up the leaderboard. It’s not for lack of opportunities, the putts just aren’t falling for Lewis and Pieters at the moment.
Going through their shot tracker from Round 1, numerous birdie putts inside of 10-feet were missed. The same could be said in Round 2, as the pair’s ball-striking was top-notch having hit an impressive 15 greens in regulation. I’m not asking for every putt inside of 10-feet to drop, that’s unrealistic. But just a slight improvement on the greens would go a very long way for this duo.
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