Justin Thomas had arm troubles, Rickie Fowler wasn’t much better with two healthy limbs and two recent Web.com Tour grads share the lead after 36 holes of the Honda Classic. Here’s everything you need to know from Friday’s second round:
Leaderboard: Sungjae Im (-6), Keith Mitchell (-6), Lucas Glover (-5), Brooks Koepka and eight others (-4)
What it means: There was a lot of talk about this year’s Honda Classic field being, well, not great relative to previous seasons. And at the midway point at PGA National, the leaderboard certainly does little to disprove the sentiment that this event has taken a reduced role in the revamped Florida swing. While Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia are lurking, this tournament has so far been dominated by the chip-on-the-shoulder crowd, including young guys like reigning Web.com Tour money winner Sungjae Im and former Georgia player Keith Mitchell, who has been anxious to redeem himself after a disappointing close to the Sony Open earlier this season. Both players share the lead at 6 under and hold a one-shot advantage on major champion Lucas Glover.
Round of the day: Im, who has six finishes of T-16 or better this season, birdied three of his first four holes, and then three of his final six to post the round of the day, a 6-under 64, which was matched by Canadian Adam Svensson, who shares fourth with a long list of players that includes Koepka.
Best of the rest: While Im and Mitchell are each searching for their first wins on Tour, Glover has to be feeling like he has something to prove, as well. Glover hasn’t won since 2011, though he has finished T-17 or better in six of seven starts this season with two top 10s. Schwartzel, whose winning drought only goes back to 2016, had something click in his game in Puerto Rico, where he tied for sixth after missing five straight weekends.
Biggest disappointment: It’s hard to blame Justin Thomas for injuring his right arm Thursday after smacking a tree on one of his follow-throughs. It’s also hard to fault him for managing only a 4-over 74 while battling what he described as a “dead arm.” Instead, let’s be most disappointed with Cameron Smith, who sat 2 under after Day 1 before following with a second-round 79 to comfortably miss the cut, his first MC since last summer’s U.S. Open.
Main storyline heading into Saturday: Can the weekend avoid being a snooze-fest? Thomas, at 2 over, barely stuck around to defend his title, and he’ll likely need a good visit to the physio and a similar approach to the carefree one he took Sunday in Mexico or Jack Nicklaus will remain the only player to win back-to-back Honda titles. Rickie Fowler, at 1 under after a second-round 72, continues to talk more about rules than making a weekend charge. And of the players in the top 10, just one is ranked better than 88th. Yet, with a difficult course that rewards great ball-striking and punishes the opposite, it’s not like the final 36 holes will be completely devoid of excitement. Plus, a Garcia-Koepka playoff is still a possibility.
Shot of the day: It wasn’t the best of days for first-round leader Jhonattan Vegas, but this lengthy birdie make in The Bear Trap helped Vegas limit the damage.
Quote of the day: “Just feels like I have a dead arm the whole day. It just feels like it kind of needs to get popped. Just doesn’t have a lot of strength.” – Thomas