Cool breezes and damp conditions again greeted players Friday along the Monterey Peninsula, where the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am got back on schedule. Here's how things look at the halfway point, as a pair of players already with some high finishes this season sit atop the leaderboard:
Leaderboard: Jordan Spieth (-9), Jimmy Walker (-9), Hunter Mahan (-8), Andrew Loupe (-7), Richard H. Lee (-6), Brendon Todd (-6)
What it means: Walker and Spieth are no strangers to recent success, as the former has already won twice in 2013-14 and the latter held 36-hole leads at both Kapalua and Torrey Pines. They'll now look to outduel each other over the weekend, while Mahan remains in the mix as he looks to win for the first time in nearly two years.
Round of the day: Playing Friday at Monterey Peninsula, Ryan Palmer notched six birdies and an eagle en route to a 5-under 66 that served as the day's low score. A runner-up last month at the Humana Challenge, Palmer effectively bounced back from an even-par opener at Spyglass Hill and now is in position for his third top-10 finish of 2014.
Best of the rest: Mahan tackled Spyglass Hill during the second round and fired a 4-under 68 that included six birdies. Well rested following a lengthy offseason, Mahan notched a top-10 finish last week in Phoenix and now appears poised to contend once more, with Monterey Peninsula - the easiest of the three courses in rotation - awaiting him Saturday.
Biggest disappointment: After an opening 68, Jason Day appeared ready to contend this week, but following his stumbles Friday at Pebble Beach, the Aussie is in danger of missing the 54-hole cut. Day made just one birdie during his second round, a 5-over 77 that dropped him outside the top 100. Now 2 over with Spyglass Hill on deck, it appears Day will be unlikely to replicate last year's sixth-place finish.
Main storyline heading into Saturday: Players will complete the third and final leg of this week's rotation of courses, after which the field will be trimmed to the top 70 and ties. The leaderboard includes plenty of players in search of a breakthrough victory, but the three names at the top are all proven winners. Spieth will look to make up for disappointing weekends in Maui and San Diego, while a third win for Walker could help secure him a Ryder Cup spot before the calendar flips to March.
Bubba Watson re-emerges in the winner's circle but gets exposed on the hardwood, Mark Wahlberg tunes out Tiger Woods and if John Daly wants a drinking partner, he need look no further than ... John Daly?
All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.
Watson's third victory at Riviera couldn't have come at a better time for the 39-year-old, with an annual trip down Magnolia Lane right around the corner. But don't let that distract you from the only Bubba highlight that mattered from the weekend:
Welcome to the block party, Bubba. Despite his former professional basketball playing wife's advice to stay out of the paint, Watson decided to challenge Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady at the hoop. You could say his challenge was accepted. And then some.
Watson, who picked up a couple of assists but also shot an air ball in the game, said afterwards that he "was just trying not to get hurt" and even poked a little fun at himself, calling out McGrady for committing a foul on social media.
Sports fans probably take Bubba Golf for granted sometimes, no one plays the game like he does. Lets not make the same mistake with Bubba Basketball.
Want to know how far Tiger Woods has fallen? Sure, you could look at his 544th-world ranking or the current state of his game as he returns from injury, but the most telling sign came from his Wednesday pro-am round at the Genesis Open.
Woods was grouped with Mark Wahlberg for the day, and the superstar actor couldn't even be bothered to take the Apple AirPods out his ears – either one – for the entire round, even wearing them for the picture Woods posted on Instagram himself.
Marky Mark, you don't have to be his thunder buddy but at least show the man some common decency. He's still Tiger Freakin' Woods. Who is supposed to fake laugh at one of Tiger's patented hilarious dad jokes if all of his playing partners suddenly start listening to music during their rounds?
On a related note, guess Tigers are the only animals that Wahlberg won't talk to.
Something tells me this whole criminal thing isn't going to work out for these two.
If it’s with U.S. Olympian John Daly, the answer is, A LOT.
That's right, there's an American skeleton (headfirst luge for you newbs) racer competing in PyeongChang, South Korea, with the same name as the two-time major champ, and he couldn't help himself when asked about the similarity, jokingly saying he could keep up at the bar.
If someone quits Twitter but they don't leave a long, drawn-out message on Twitter about why they're quitting Twitter before doing so, then did they even quit Twitter?
That's the riddle surrounding Lydia Ko's disappearance from the social media platform, one that the South Park Police Department would call, "suspicious."
The former LPGA world No. 1 has gone through all kinds of changes over the last couple of seasons, and added this curious move (on top of switching out her swing coach and caddie to start this season) because she said the app was “taking up [too much] storage on my phone.”
Whatever the reason, whether it be the storage issue she mentioned, or Twitter being a giant cesspool of negativity, here's to hoping it brings Ko happiness and a return to the winner's circle for the first time since 2016.
But we're sad to see her go.
After all, if people aren't freaking out on Twitter, what are we going to focus on here in The Social?
Rory McIlroy said last week after playing with Tiger Woods at the Genesis Open that the 14-time major champ gives up two strokes a tournament dealing with the hoopla that comes with being Tiger Woods.
That hasn't deterred John Peterson, who was on Twitter Monday openly recruiting Woods to play on his team for the Zurich Classic.
The April New Orleans PGA Tour stop switched to a team format last year, with Jonas Blixt and Cameron Smith joining forces to win the first title.
And hey, who knows, stranger things have happened. While the two may seem like an unlikely pairing, they have some stuff in common – Peterson won the 2012 Coca-Cola Walmart Open and Tiger, we think, has heard of an establishment known as Walmart.
So yeah, you could say the two are basically best friends at this point.
Veteran golf travel, history and architecture journalist Bradley S. Klein has joined Golf Channel’s editorial team as senior writer for Golf Advisor, the company’s ever-expanding digital destination for the traveling golfer, featuring more than 700,000 reviews of nearly 15,000 golf courses in 80 countries worldwide. Klein’s first column appears today and provides eight simple tips for becoming a golf course architecture junkie – how architecture can be more relevant to everyday golfers and design aspects to observe that can make a round of golf a more fulfilling experience.
With more than 40 years of varied experiences within the game of golf – a career that began as a caddie on the PGA Tour – Klein most recently served as the long-time architecture editor for Golfweek magazine and the founding editor of Superintendent News.
"I've been in love with golf course design since I was 11 years old and have been lucky over the years to find a platform where I can share that fascination with fellow golfers,” Klein said. “It's an amazing opportunity now for me to bring that passion and commitment to Golf Channel and its travel and lifestyle brand, Golf Advisor."
"We are extremely excited to have Brad join the Golf Advisor team. His unique contributions covering history and architecture will be an excellent complement to the travel content Matt Ginella brings to Golf Advisor and Golf Channel’s Morning Drive,” said Mike Lowe, vice president and general manager, Golf Advisor. “Brad’s reputation and experience in the industry make him a wonderful addition to our expanding golf travel and course design editorial team.”
Other members of Golf Advisor’s editorial team include: Brandon Tucker, Mike Bailey, Jason Deegan, Bill Irwin and Tim Gavrich.
Including assignments for Golfweek, Klein has written more than 1,500 feature articles on course architecture, resort travel, golf course development, golf history and the media for such other publications as Golf Digest, Financial Times, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. He has published seven books on golf architecture and history, including Discovering Donald Ross, winner of the USGA 2001 International Book Award. In 2015, Klein won the Donald Ross Award for lifetime achievement from the American Society of Golf Course Architects. He is well known within the golf industry and has served as a consultant on numerous golf course development and restoration projects, most recently the Old Macdonald course at acclaimed Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon.
Golf Advisor now includes the integration of Golf Vacation Insider and Golf Odyssey, two leading travel newsletters with a combined reach of more than a half million subscribers. Both newsletters joined Golf Channel’s portfolio of businesses in 2017 as part of the acquisition of Revolution Golf, golf’s largest direct-to-consumer digital platform offering video-based instruction and integrated e-commerce.
Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.
Bubba (+9%): Half of his 10 Tour titles have come at Augusta National and Riviera – that’s pretty stout. Though he can be maddening to cover because of his personality quirks, an in-form Watson is a must-watch.
Phil (+5%): For the first time in 11 years, Mickelson put together three consecutive top-6 finishes on Tour. Suddenly, another green jacket or that elusive U.S. Open title doesn’t seem so far away.
Kevin Na (+3%): How much fun would this guy be on a Ryder Cup team? He hits it dead straight – which will be important at Le Golf National, where the home team will narrow the fairways – and would drive the Europeans absolutely bonkers.
West Coast swing (+2%): From Jason Day to Gary Woodland to Ted Potter to Watson, the best coast produced a series of memorable comeback stories. And that’s always good news for those of us who get paid to write about the game.
South Korean talent (+1%): They already represent nine of the top 16 players in the world, and that doesn’t even include Jin Young Ko, who just won in her first start as an LPGA member.
Steve Stricker Domination (-1%): Those predicting that he would come out and mop up on the PGA Tour Champions – hi there! – will be surprised to learn that he’s now 0-for-7 on the senior circuit (with five top-3s), after Joe Durant sped past him on the final day in Naples. The quality of golf out there is strong.
Patrick Cantlay’s routine (-2%): Never really noticed it before, but Cantlay ground to a halt during the final round, often looking at the cup six or seven times before finally stroking his putt. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that his final-round scoring average is nearly four strokes higher than his openers.
Lydia Ko (-3%):Another wholesale change? Whatever is going on here – and it reeks of too much parental involvement – it’s not good for her short- or long-term future.
Tiger (-4%): It’s early, and he’s obviously savvy enough to figure it out, but nothing else in this comeback will matter if Woods can’t start driving it on the planet.
Fan behavior (-8%): Kudos to Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas for taking the Riviera spectators to task for their tiresome (and increasingly aggressive) calls after a player hits a shot. The only problem? PGA National’s par-3 17th could be even worse – the drunk fans are closer to the action, and the hole is infinitely more difficult than TPC Scottsdale’s 16th. Buckle up.