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The Roundup

The Roundup: Champ chasing

by Matt Cooper
Updated On: November 16, 2018, 5:13 pm ET

Recap of the day

 

Another chilly morning and for so long there was relatively little change on the leaderboard. Plenty of players continued to make birdies, but none did so with the regularity of pre-round leader Charles Howell III who was bounding clear. However Jason Gore altered the status quo with four birdies to conclude his lap of 63 which left him on 11-under 131, at the time two back of the on-course leader. Then Howell III made yet another par breaker to complete a second 64 of the week and set a new target of 14-under 128. Ryan Blaum (65), David Hearn (66) and Brian Harman (68) slotted in on 8-under 134 and then there was a late flurry. Nick Watney's 64 earned him solo fourth on 9-under 133 before Cameron Champ stamped a 63 to join Gore in second.

 

Leaderboard: -14 Charles Howell III, -11 Jason Gore, Cameron Champ, -9 Nick Watney, -8 Ryan Blaum, David Hearn, Brian Harman

 

Notables: -6 Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson, Ernie Els, -5 Hunter Mahan, -3 Austin Cook, Kevin Kisner

 

 

Low round of the day: The 63s of Gore and Champ

 

Cut: -2 140

 

MCs: -1 Padraig Harrington, E Jim Furyk, +1 Stewart Cink, +2 Jason Dufner, +3 Russell Henley

 

Revised outright betting: Howell III 15/8, Champ 5/2, Harman 14/1, Simpson 16/1, Watney 18/1, Gore 22/1

 

 

Saturday weather forecast

 

The cool temperatures should lift into the 60s, but with it the humidity will also climb to around 65%. The wind is predicted to be around 5mph, but remember that coastal areas can easily see swift changes in that regard.

 

 

Leaders at 36 holes

 

Charles Howell III (64, 128) - Missed two fairways and two greens in regulation, down on the perfection of R1, but he'll take it. Was once five swings clear, but he'll also take the three-shot halfway advantage.

 

Jason Gore (63, 131) - Make bogey on No. 1 but then turned it around with four birdies in six holes around the turn and four-in-four to close. 5.022 SG: Putting is a nice number.

 

Cameron Champ (63, 131) - Closed the front nine with three birdies in four holes and bettered it on the back nine with four-in-four. Has missed three greens in both laps and is 4.899 SG: Putting. 

 

Nick Watney (64, 133) - Missed just only one green all day and raced home on both nines. Played 16, 17 and 18 in 3-under, but 7, 8 and 9 in 4-under. 

 

 

Fate of the favorites

 

Webb Simpson (68, 136) - Limped through his first seven holes in 1-over, but added six birdies from there on in, including a welcome brace to finish with, to find the top ten.

 

Cameron Champ - see above

 

C.T. Pan (71, 142) - Made seven birdies, but had opened with a triple bogey-7 which left him with too big a mountain to climb; missed cut. 

 

 

Road to victory at Sea Island

 

2017 Austin Cook – R1: 8th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2016 Mackenzie Hughes – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

2015 Kevin Kisner – R1: 1st, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st

2014 Robert Streb – R1: 48th, R2: 10th, R3: 12th

2013 Chris Kirk – R1: 11th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

 

Notes: Four of those five winner were bang in contention at halfway, but Streb (who was T10) has something in common with Tommy Gainey, winner in 2012, who was T30 after 36 holes and T29 after 54. Since the event used two courses first in 2015, however, the three winners have been in the top two at this point.

 

 

Fate of the halfway leaders at Sea Island - where did they finish?

 

2017 Austin Cook 1st

2016 Mackenzie Hughes 1st

2015 Kevin Chappell 2nd

2014 Russell Henley 4th

2013 Chris Kirk 1st

 

Notes: 3-for-5 is a decent conversion rate for the halfway leaders, but note that the first three 36-hole pace-setters on this course all failed to hold the advantage (also something of a quirk that in eight years of use Sea Island has never had a shared halfway lead).

 

 

Focus on - 36 hole leads

 

Howell III has had seven 36 holes leads in his career. The first four were all solo and by just the one shot, the last three were all shared; none of them led to a win and the last three times he has been in this position he has failed to break 73 in round three. Just 15 of the last 50 players to hold a three-shot lead on the PGA Tour at halfway went on to claim the win.

 

 

Focus on - Graeme McDowell

 

The Northern Irishman has been firing on all cylinders this week, currently T8. A surprise? In one respect, yes, because he missed the cut last week at El Camaleon and hasn't made a top ten since the end of July (Canadian Open). However, if he's going to thrive anywhere on the PGA Tour his history gives us a few clues about where it is like to be. His three wins Stateside? At Pebble Beach, Harbour Town and El Camaleon - all blustery tracks by the sea. Of his other eight top fives in strokeplay another three came when faced with similar tests (Plantation, Olympic Club, here at Sea Island) and the other five included four in Florida on famously windy courses (Bay Hill, PGA National and Doral).

 

 

Focus on - Brian Harman

 

Driving Accuracy is a far from perfect statistic, with plenty of possibilities for creating a false picture. However, whilst accepting that limitation, it might be worth looking at the 31-year-old's numbers to ask why he's fallen off the form truck in recent months. In his last nine starts he has failed to record one top 30 and in that time his average ranking for DA is 39th whilst he has topped 70% just once. Compare that with the 33 events which preceded that downturn. In them his average ranking was 18th and he topped 70% 14 times. It helped him clock 12 top tens (finishing position being the number which ultimately matters). He heads into the weekend in a healthy position (T5) and his DA numbers? 85.71% through 36 holes.