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The Roundup

The Roundup: Straka strikes

by Matt Cooper
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 9:41 pm ET

Recap of the day
 
Morning wave: Chase Wright made quite the start to his rookie season, thrashing an 8-under-par 64 to set the clubhouse target. Behind him a slew of players added 6-under 66s, but none better..
 
Afternoon wave: Napa is not on Route 66, but it kind of felt that way this Thursday as that number continued to be posted with complete abandon. Initially only one man could breach the figure and what comedy: A week after being ridiculed for his Ryder Cup exploits Phil Mickelson torched the course for a 7-under 65. Late in the day Austria's Sepp Straka topped everyone with a 9-under 63.
 
Leaderboard: -9 Sepp Straka, -8 Chase Wright, -7 Phil Mickelson, -6 Alex Prugh, J.T. Poston, MacKenzie Hughes, Brandt Snedeker, Sam Saunders, Sungjae Im, Adam Long
 
Notables: -5 Ryan Moore, -3 Patrick Cantlay, -2 Danny Willett, +1 Fred Couples, +4 Jamie Lovemark
 
Revised outright betting: Mickelson 8/1, Snedeker 11/1, Moore 14/1, Cantlay 20/1, Straka 20/1, Steele 22/1, Niemann 25/1
 
 
Friday weather forecast
 
Clear and sunny skies, temperatures in the high 60s, ditto for humidity and just 10% chance of rain.
 
 
Leaders after at 18 holes
 
Sepp Straka (63) - He held the 54-hole lead on his last start at the Web.com Tour Championship and ceded the lead, now he can go again. He landed 15 of 18 greens in regulation and poured in nine birdies.
 
Chase Wright (64) - As a way of making your bow on the main stage, striking 18 of 18 greens in regulation is no bad thing. He also rated 3.556 for SG:Putting as he pencilled six birdies and one eagle on his bogey-free card.
 
Phil Mickelson (65) - Pure Phil. From comedy via tragedy to redemption. Only found half the fairways, but it mattered less this week than last. Dropped no shots, made one early birdie and then five in a row from the ninth.
 
 
Fate of the favorites
 
Patrick Cantlay (69) - He found 15 greens in regulation, enough to reap four birdies, but need four blows from 68 yards on the 17th to make bogey and ticked only one of the par-5s.
 
Emiliano Grillo (72) - The 2015 winner of this event found only 12 of 18 greens, normally a part of the game he excels at and being low on the usual numbers hurt as he exchanged three birdies and three bogeys.
 
Joaquin Niemann (68) - Only half the fairways and only 0.900 for SG: Putting, but a solid start. Was level-par through 13 holes and then accelerated home with four birdies.
 
 
Quote
 
Phil Mickelson (65): ""I honestly have been hitting it just terrible, and today was just an anomaly. Don't let the good round fool you. I'm not at my best."
 
 
Road to victory at Silverado CC
 
2017 Brendan Steele – R1: 1st, R2: 2nd, R3: 3rd 
2016 Brendan Steele – R1: 9th, R2: 16th, R3: 6th 
2015 Emiliano Grillo – R1: 13th, R2: 19th, R3: 4th 
2014 Sang Moon Bae – R1: 1st, R2: 2nd, R3: 1st 
 
Notes: A mixed bag with two early leaders getting themselves into position and the other two trailing. In fact Steele in 2016 and Grillo were both five swings off the lead after 18 holes.
 
 
Fate of the halfway leaders at Silveradio CC - where did they finish?
 
2017: Brendan Steele - 1st, Tyler Duncan - 5th, Tom Hoge - 37th
2016: Scott Piercy - 3rd
2015: Brendan Steele - 17th
2014: Sang Moon Bae - 1st, Andres Gonzales - 26th
 
Notes: A couple progress to the win, others fell back, but worth noting that initially so did those two who eventually won, albeit not by much.
 
 
Focus on - Chase Wright
 
Who is the ma in second? He ranked ninth of the Web.com Top 25 post regular season and Finals, claiming one win and another four top tens. He's well travelled, having played on the Asian Tour in 2013 and the Canadian Tour in 2017, where he grabbed a win at the Rust-Oleum Championship. He's only twice before teed it up in California at this sort of level and twice missed the cut on the Web.com. The good news with fast starts? He was sharing the 18-hole lead when he won that Canadian Tour event and he was just two back when winning on the Web.com. 
 
 
Focus on - Phil Mickelson
 
This fast start is pretty big news for Mickelson. He was second after the first round in this year's St Jude Classic but otherwise you have to go all the way back to the 2017 Masters for him making a speedy start (top five). It's only the fifth time in 16 starts that he has opened with a sub-70 lap of the course and his tendency to place himself behind the eight ball on Thursday means you have to go all the way back to the Wells Fargo Championship in the first week of May for his last top ten.
 
Focus on - Brendan Steele
 
It is some record Steele has on this course and his first round was not bad either, a six birdie 65 to lie in the top 15. He was T21 on debut in 2014, led the tournament after rounds one, two and three in 2013 before a 76 saw him drop back to T17 and then knocked in back-to-back victories in the last two years.