Due to Thursday’s weather delays, 63 players returned on Friday morning to finish the first round and then going on to play their second. The other half of the field that finished the first round Thursday and then teed off late on Friday will return on Saturday morning to complete their second rounds. Yeah, it’s a bit of a cluster, but good news is the weather was beautiful today and the forecast calls for nothing but more sunshine over the weekend.
*Webb Simpson ran off six birdies in eight holes on his way to posting a five-under 67, nine-under total, to take the clubhouse lead. The 2012 U.S. Open champ has struggled with his consistency lately. In his four starts since the Open Championship, he’s had at least one really low round in the low-to-mid 60s, but then he’s also thrown in a few over-par rounds
“I think my bad shots are getting better, and I’ve been putting well now for a couple months,” said Simpson. “So it’s always nice when you are having a day when you’re struggling a little bit, get the ball in the hole and make some pars.
“But the best test for what you’re working on is getting in contention on the weekend on the PGA Tour. I’m excited to be in contention. Like I said, there’s a lot of golf to play. We have half the tournament done, about halfway to go, and it’s just nice to kind of be in there and have a chance I think.”
Maybe Webb will break out of his recent mold and fire two more rounds in the 60s this weekend at Liberty National?
*Rickie Fowler‘s game is finally coming around and peaking just in time for these thrilling FedExCup PLAYOFFS. Fowler shot even par in the first round, but then got hot and followed it by shooting seven-under 64.
“This is the first time I’ve actually been coming in kind of moving forward with my game into the FedExCup Playoffs,” said Fowler, who finished T19 at the PGA Championship. “Every year I feel like I’ve been just kind of trying to hold on and finish off the year.
“This year, after missing the cut at The Open Championship, I kind of turned a corner, swinging really well. Just waiting for kind of getting some putts to drop and I was able to do that today which was nice.
“Probably the most confident and most kind of on upward climb versus a down hill spiral versus the last few years, so I’m excited about the Playoffs. The further back I’ve been coming in, but I feel like I have a good chance of playing well, and a good weekend here would go a long ways and keep me going. Obviously my goal is to make THE TOUR Championship; there’s Presidents Cup in the back of my mind. I just want to play well right now.”
*Keegan Bradley fired a course-record 63 in the second round of The Barclays to move into contention. Bradley, who has notched seven top-tens in 2013, is still looking for his first win of the season.
“It’s disappointing that I haven’t won, but I’ve made over 3 million, I’m top-10 in the FedExCup,” said Bradley. “I’ve had seven top-10s, which is the most I’ve ever had. It’s kind of a weird year. I’ve had two seconds and a third. I’ve been right there.
“So if I could get a win, this would probably be my most consistent year, so it’s right there on the edge of being a super good year, but I’d really like to get a win for sure.”
Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first time Bradley has made the cut at The Barclays — partly perhaps in the two prior years, he’s won big tournaments near the end of the regular season and he was still coming down from the high.
Bradley also talked about his friendship with PGA Champ Jason Dufner.
“It was very awkward at first,” said Keegan, laughing. “Duf is a very awkward guy sometimes. “I remember at THE TOUR Championship, we actually were playing in the final group on Friday together, and it was super weird; that was shortly after.
“And then, it’s hard to really pinpoint where we became really good buddies. I do remember at the Shark Shootout when he looked at me totally out of the blue and goes, ‘Just admit that that putt on 17 was going ten feet by.
“I said, ‘Funny thing about that putt is that I got a 37-pound trophy in my living room with my name on it.’ We were able to joke around and it made us closer.”
*Tiger Woods got off to a hot start, rolling in birdies in three of his first five holes, but then cooled down, making three bogeys between nos. 7 and 11. It was like there was a magnet on his ball and the bunkers.
“I got off to a great start today and then lost it the middle part of the round and made too many mistakes,” said Woods. “Didn’t hit any greens. Consequently, made some bogeys.”
I’m not sure exactly how many he was in today, but when I was walking with him, he had a sand shot three holes in a row. (*Update: Tiger was in six bunkers from holes 6-11.) He also had two pretty ho-hum pars on the two par-5s on the front nine, which both his playing partners, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker birdied, so they probably felt like bogeys for Tiger.
Then, he had a mini-meltdown on no. 11 when he skulled a bunker shot, then slammed his club and dropped not one — but two — F-bombs. (Sounds kinda like me last week or during any given round… Kidding. Kind of.)
Woods managed to get one back with a birdie on no. 13.
Asked how his back and neck were feeling he said “a little sore.”
Play was suspended due to darkness at 7:45pm. Woods was on the 14th green with a 13-footer for birdie, which he’ll wait to putt when he returns to the course on Saturday morning at 7:30.
*Matt Kuchar, who played with Woods, put on a little putting clinic, making just about everything from inside 12 feet. Kuchar shot five-under 66 in the first round and he’s currently five-under through 13. He has a putt just off the green for birdie on no. 14. With five left to play in the second round, Kuchar is leading at -10 at the moment.
“Right now the greens are getting a little bit worn,” said Kuchar when asked about his decision to wait to putt in the morning. “There’s just been a lot of traffic on them. I feel like in the morning, they will be perfect greens.
“A situation where I’m on 18 and can pretty much have a proper night’s sleep and not have to worry about going out, I’ll finish on 18. But in this situation it was amazing, we were down on the last hole, 13, kind of a little bit down the hole and it was dark. I wasn’t sure we were going to tee off on 14.
“Coming out over the water, it brightened up by a good margin. It’s actually a beautiful skyline. I think when the sun sets coming off, it was a nice little place to be this time of night.”
Kuchar, who has won twice already this season, is seeking his third victory of the year. You can always rely on Kooch for a solid, consistent finish.
*Quick shout-out to Rory McIlroy, who is five-under through 16 holes. I was on the ferry with him earlier today coming over from the city to Liberty National and he correctly predicted how many holes he’d get in. He was also checking out the leaderboard at one point and said aloud, “Rickie is six-under today.” I said half-jokingly, “It’s out there, go and shoot seven-under!”