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The Roundup

The Roundup: Early Risers

by Matt Cooper
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Recap of the day
 
Morning wave: The scoring was low and 4-under-par 67 proved a popular number. Among those posting it were World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Matsuyama and Paul Casey. But they were eclipsed by Kevin Tway, Jamie Lovemark and, late in the early wave, Vaughn Taylor who all pushed onwards, setting a target of 5-under 66. 
 
Afternoon wave: Rafa Cabrera Bello and Beau Hossler joined the big pack of 13 on 4-under 67 but only Sean O'Hair could get past that milestone. He joined the three morning leaders on 66. It was definitely a day to have a morning tee time.
 
Leaderboard: -5 Jamie Lovemark, Kevin Tway, Vaughn Taylor, Sean O'Hair
 
Notables: -4 Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, -3 Phil Mickelson, -2 Justin Thomas, -1 Jordan Spieth, level Tiger Woods
 
Revised outright betting: D.Johnson 9/2, Koepka 7/1, Fleetwood 16/1, Matsuyama 16/1, Thomas 20/1
 
 
Friday weather forecast
 
Another fine day is predicted with temperatures peaking in the early 80s, humidity around 40%, almost no chance of rain and barely any wind whatsoever.
 
 
Leaders after at 18 holes
 
Kevin Tway (66) - Arrived fresh from a pair of weekend 65s at the Wyndham Championship and gave himself eight looks at breaking par from inside 25 feet, holing seven of them.
 
Jamie Lovemark (66) - Didn't find much tee to green (six of 14 fairways, 10 of 18 greens in regulation), but 4.433 Strokes Gained: Putting.
 
Vaughn Taylor (66) - Level par through 12 holes despite having made three birdies, but then caught fire with five par breakers in six holes.
 
Sean O'Hair (66) - Failed to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker on the first, but a 280-yard approach to the par-5 third gave him a 6'0" eagle look, he took it, and never looked back. At the 17th, another par-5, he gave himself 11'5" for eagle and only just missed it.
 
 
Fate of the favorites
 
Dustin Johnson (67) - Just six of the 14 fairways, but it didn't hurt his approach play too much because he still landed 14 of 18 greens in regulation. The real killer? He made seven birdies but wasted three of them with a triple bogey-8 at the 17th (his eighth) which included both an errant drive and a failing scrambling game. Also watched his tee shot lip out on the par-3 sixth.
 
Jason Day (71) - Only found half the fairways and although he made two in every three greens in regulation he just couldn't get the ball in the hole. 
 
Justin Thomas (69) - A little neutered on the tee: averaged only 290 yards and found just six of 14 fairways. Traded four birdies and two bogeys.
 
Brooks Koepka (67) - Missed just four of 14 fairways and six greens in regulation. Three-putted the fourth green.
 
Tiger Woods (71) - 281.5 yards from the tee, nine of 14 fairways, 11 of 18 greens in regulation and -0.095 Strokes Gained: Putting. Holed four par putts from outside five feet.
 
 
Quotes
 
Tiger Woods (71): "One of those days where I kept getting a half club and I wasn't getting close. I hit probably the spinniest ball out there and hitting into soft greens was tough. One of those days."
 
Tommy Fleetwood (67): "Holed some really nice putts but then they dried up. I was happy that I began to feel a lot more confident in my swing coming in. If I play well the FedEx Cup it is a great opportunity, but it's not currently in the forefront of my mind."
 
Dustin Johnson (67): "I was scrambling very well early on. I need to go to the range. I'm not too sure where the ball is going from the tee. I got it round today. My irons and wedges were good. I got better after the turn."
 
Brooks Koepka (67, but on the possibility of getting to World No. 1 ahead of friend Dustin Johnson): "It would be fun. We're trying to outperform each other, even in the gym. We know what we're doing and we try to better each other."
 
 
Road to victory at Ridgewood CC
 
2014 - Hunter MahanR1: 2nd, R2: 12th, R3: 3rd 
2010 - Matt KucharR1: 20th, R2: 7th, R3: 5th 
2008 - Vijay SinghR1: 25th, R2: 21st, R3: 2nd 
 
Notes: Look at that - two of the eventual winners were well off the pace and when Tom Watson won the 2001 Senior PGA Championship here he had been T27 after 18 holes. Singh was fully eight swings back after the first round.
 
 
Fate of the first round leaders at Ridgewood CC  - where did they finish?
 
2014 - Bo Van Pelt - 13th
2010 - Vaughn Taylor - 5th, Tiger Woods - 12th
2008 - Hunter Mahan - 31st
 
Notes: It's obviously a small sample, but not great news for the early pacesetters. Although it could be argued that Mahan got his reward (eventually!).
 
 
Focus on - Paul Casey
 
Injury and (almost surely related) poor form have blighted the Englishman's summer, and with it his chances of making a return to the European Ryder Cup team. But perhaps his opening lap of 67 is a sign that for the third season running he is going to enjoy a very fruitful FedEx Cup Play-Off series. Back in 2016 he finished T31-T2-T2-T4 and last year he logged T5-T4-T33-T5. He is also no stranger to this track, although he's been trending in the wrong direction with finishes of T7-T12-T22. His form is also not quite as bad as it is easy to assume it is. He was T2 in the Travelers Championship and T7 in the European Open a week after the Open at Carnoustie. His seasonal aspirations are not over yet.
 
 
Focus on - Jamie Lovemark
 
A great start from the 30-year-old as he seeks his first individual top ten since the Honda Classic, the sort of action he needs to guarantee himself some long term Play-Off involvement (he entered the week ranked 86th in the rankings). However he will want to address a worrying trend if he is to succeed in that aim. On the Web.com Tour he had a fine record of converting strong starts into good finishes. Six times he found himself top five after 18 holes and every time he ended the week T7 or better. By curious coincidence he has six times (prior to this week) been top five on the PGA Tour, but the results have been rather less successful. Admittedly the first time it happened he held on for T6 (2016 CareerBuilder Challenge) and on the third occasion he grabbed T4 (2017 Sony Open). But the other four times (four of the last five in fact)? Every single time he drifted to outside the top 30.
 
 
Focus on - Vaughn Taylor
 
Whilst we're at it ... the first seven times that Taylor was top five after 18 holes on the PGA Tour he collected five top fives at the end of the week including two wins. Since then (another 24 times) he has managed only three and they all came back in 2009/10. Moreover his last ten top five first round positions have reaped just one top 30 by the end of the week.