Recap of the day
Early moves from Keegan Bradley (63) and Hideki Matsuyama (67) got them to 8-under 132. Gary Woodland bettered that with a 66 to post 10-under 130. Behind them all Xander Schauffele (66) and Matthew Wolff (65) had driven themselves into a tie for seventh on 6-under, one behind Corey Conners (64) and Daniel Berger (66) in a tie for fifth. But all were chasing Tiger Woods, a very late starter who always kept himself a little clear of the field and, as darkness fell, made a final dart for the clubhouse. He birdied both the 17th and 18th holes to take a two-shot lead into the final 36 holes.
Low round of the day: Bradley’s 63
Revised outright betting
Woods 6/5, Woodland 7/2, Matsuyama 13/2, Schauffele 18/1, Conners 20/1
Sunday weather forecast
Oh dear. More rain. There are plenty of afternoon showers predicted and very little wind to blow them away.
Leaders after at 54 holes
Tiger Woods (64, 128) – A tricky start despite a birdie at the first. He bogeyed the second and then had to scramble for pars. But he had a putt for a back nine 30. It missed, but he had finished strong. Ranks second for Putts per GIR (1.556).
Gary Woodland (66, 130) – Closed his first nine (the back) with a hat-trick of birdies and has made only one bogey in 36 holes. Has made 9-of-10 scrambles and leads the field.
Hideki Matsuyama (67, 132) – He leads the field for hitting greens (31-of-36) but it is just as well really because he’s safely scrambled just twice in five attempts.
Keegan Bradley (63, 132) – An eight birdie barrage for the low round of the day.
Fate of the Favourites
Justin Thomas (69, 139) – Far from disastrous tee-to-green (26-of-36 greens, ranked 20th), but has needed 1.885 Putts per GIR (64th). The result is too many bogeys (six through 36 holes) and not enough birdies (seven).
Rory McIlroy (65, 137) – Scrambled just once in four attempts in R1 and made four of five in R2. That helped him maintain momentum for 17 holes – the error came on his final hole (the ninth). But much earlier he had been on fire; 6-under through 11 holes.
Hideki Matsuyama – see above
Tiger Woods (64) – “It was a little bit better ball-striking-wise. Still not quite how I would like to have it, but I scored well and the conditions are a little bit more benign today and I hit a lot of good putts. The conditions allow us to be really aggressive. Don't have to worry about too much spin, just attack.”
Gary Woodland (66) – “It was weird because the crowds have been so massive this week and the energy's been so good, so to come out there with nobody walking around, just your agent walking around.”
Hideki Matsuyama (67) – “Second half was a grind, but I didn’t play badly, so tomorrow I want to continue playing the way I have been playing.”
Keegan Bradley (63) – “It was just one of those rounds that gets easier and easier as the day goes on.”
Corey Conners (64) – “I feel like my game's pretty sharp and I'm hitting the ball really well, which is helpful here.”
Daniel Berger (66) – “I put a lot of hard work in at the beginning of the fall series and sometimes you just have to wait for the results to come.”
Focus on – the tenth hole
Bit of a weird one. The remarkable rain (as witnessed in many social media posts) really hurt this hole and as a consequence, although it continued to be played as a par-4, it measured just 150-yards. If you noticed that a lot of players made eagle there – the yardage explains it. Gary Woodland explained the oddball nature of the change from round one to two: “It's one of the hardest driving holes out here, so that's not a drive you want to start on. Fortunately today we had a little 9-iron, which was great.”
Focus on – Tiger tracking
His first birdie at the first was from close range, but his second front nine effort at the seventh from 25’0”. He tapped in for birdie at ten and then drained another par breaker from 12’0” at the 11th, repeating it at the 13th. Another kick-in came at the 17th and then he completed the job with a two-putt birdie at 18. His bogey at the second came from a missed green, which found deep rough and he failed to drain the six-foot par putt. This is his first 36-hole lead since the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational of 2013 and he is 28-for-33 when holding the outright lead at halfway. It was a 58th lap of 64 or better since 1983. Next best is Phil Mickelson with 55. He heads into the final two rounds seeking an eighth win of his career in his first start for a season.
Focus on – Tiger on tomorrow
What happens next? The third round will begin at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, with players in groups of three starting from two tees. They will remain in their third-round groupings and return to the course for the start of R4, playing until darkness. This will introduce fatigue into the equation and with his famously delicate back Woods is under greater threat than most. He addressed that after the second round. “So my tee time's going to be about 8:30 and we're going to finish in the dark,” he said. “We're going to hopefully not have too long a break between rounds, go right back out there and get after it. I’ll eat a lot of food tonight and then tomorrow, same thing, make sure that I eat enough and feel good about my warm-up session. It’s going to be a bit of a test physically and mentally to play for, what, up to 10 hours. A long day.”