PGATOUR.COM’s countdown of the Top 100 Players to Watch in 2012 begins today.
Each day, we’ll also post a note in TOUR Report with the latest list of players.
That will give you an opportunity to weigh in on how you think those players will perform next year – and whether you think we have them ranked too low or too high. After all, just like snowflakes, no two lists will be the same.
So for the debut of this year’s list, here are Nos. 91-100. Click on each player’s link for his preview page, including this year’s new addition of the Three Wise Men – Chris DiMarco, Arron Oberholser and Craig Perks, who offer their takes on each of the players on the list .
Don’t forget to let us know what you think.
BETHESDA, Md. – How good is Rory McIlroy playing? Well, he is three pars away from becoming the first player since 1992 to play the first two rounds of the U.S. Open without making a bogey.
Not to mention, he currently has an eight-shot lead over Y.E. Yang, who doesn’t tee off until 1:35 p.m. The largest previous lead after 36 holes? Tiger Woods’ six-stroke edge in his record-setting, 15-shot victory at Pebble Beach in 2000.
Since 1992, only three players have played the first two rounds and made just one bogey – Ricky Barnes (2009), Phil Mickelson (2004) and Stephen Leaney (2003).
BETHESDA, Md. -- When Rory McIlroy holed that pitching wedge for eagle at the eighth hole on Friday, he became the first player to ever hit double digits under par in the second round of the U.S. Open.
Prior to Friday, only four other players had hit double digits at the championship where par is valued above all others. Here are the others:
|12||Tiger Woods||Four||Pebble Beach||2000||1st|
|12||Gil Morgan||Third||Pebble Beach||1992||T13|
|11||Jim Furyk||Third||Olympia Fields||2003||1st|
|11||Ricky Barnes||Third||Bethpage Black||2009||T2|
The 36-hole record in relation to par at the U.S. Open is 8 under and held by Woods and Barnes. Woods shot 8 under on the par-71 Pebble Beach layout in 2000 while Barnes reached the same number on the par-70 Bethpage Black course in 2009.
Looks like McIlroy will shatter that mark, too, doesn’t it?
It’s moving day at the memorial, where Steve Stricker began the third round with a three-shot lead. Will he hold on to it? Or will he be caught by Rory McIlroy, Ricky Barnes or someone else? Weather also looks like it could be an issue late in the day. Discuss the round here.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio -- It was a good news, bad news kind of round for Rory McIlroy on Friday at Muirfield Village.
The good news? He's still tied for the lead at the Memorial Tournament. And the bad? Well, he simply had too many miscues -- four bogeys and a double bogey to go along with his six birdies.
"I felt as if I played good enough to shoot something in the 60s but I just made too many mistakes out there," McIlroy said. "I made two bogeys on the front nine from the middle of the fairway with a 9-iron and a sand wedge in my hand. You just can't do that sort of stuff. And then 14 was playing tough today with that pin position, but to make double there was quite disappointing.
"But you know, I was happy with how I handled everything because I did make mistakes, but it seemed like every time I made a mistake I came back with a birdie or came back to just sort of rectify it. I feel like I'm playing okay, just need to limit the mistakes going into the weekend."
McIlroy had said on Thursday that he generally likes late-early tee times in the first two rounds. He simply wasn’t able to build on his success in the first round and found himself tied with Ricky Barnes, Rod Pampling and Jonathan Byrd when the morning wave ended.
"Some of the pin positions out there were very tricky," McIlroy said. "... If you miss these fairways, you don't really have a chance to get it close because the rough is so much thicker than it has been previous years. You've got to hit it really well out here to give yourself opportunities.
"I still made six birdies out there today and shot even par. I feel like there's a lot of birdies out there, but it's tough to sort of keep it going the whole way around."
McIlroy, who tied for 10th in last year's Memorial, only hit eight fairways and 12 greens on Friday. Even so, he’s made 13 birdies in 36 holes so he needs to focus on the positives as he stalks his second title on the PGA TOUR.
"I've just got to accept whatever happens out on the golf course," McIlroy said. "Frustrated with some of the mistakes I made, but I'm happy enough. I'm thereabouts going into the weekend.
"There's still a lot of golf left to play. I know that and everyone else knows that. I just need to, as I said, just limit those mistakes. If I can keep the silly bogeys off the card, I think I'll be all right."
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
DUBLIN, Ohio – The words of that on-course announcer notwithstanding, Ricky Barnes is still looking for his first PGA TOUR win.
“Maybe they’re foreseeing something this week,” Barnes said, smiling. “I’m hoping.
And given his history of playing tough courses well, it wouldn’t be a shock to see it come at Muirfield Village, either.
Barnes has put himself in position through two rounds of the Memorial Tournament after a solid 70 on Friday moved him to 6 under and into a tie at the top of the leaderboard. He shared third in his debut there last year.
“When you step on courses that you play well you feel good once you get on the ground,” Barnes said. “A lot of the same this week – driving the ball well, putting myself in good positions and my distance control is pretty goods with my irons. I’m back to hitting it in the middle of the club face, and it definitely shows when I’m out there.”
Even so, Barnes didn’t get off to the kind of start he had hoped for on Friday, making bogeys on the third and fourth holes. But he turned things around quickly with a two-putt birdie from 38 feet at the par-5 fifth hole and an eagle at the seventh where he holed a shot from the bunker.
Barnes, who is playing in his fifth straight event, bogeyed the eighth to drop back to even for the day. But he made three birdies on the back while dropping just one shot to par.
“I thought there was good pins out there,” Barnes said. “There's enough good pins on each of the greens to kind of protect it. Even a few of the par‑5s, you know, 5 and 7, they're those front pins. I mean, I hit two great shots into 5 and still had about 25, 30 feet behind it. I beg to differ that there's going to be many closer guys because I played in the morning, greens were soft.
“And the ball wasn't traveling all that well this morning. There was a little chill in the air, and yesterday afternoon the ball was flying. We were hitting 3‑woods, I'm going to say, up in the 280 range.”
The Californian won the 2002 U.S. Amateur. But Barnes has taken a slower road to stardom than the man he beat in the finals there, Hunter Mahan.
Barnes spent several seasons on the Nationwide Tour before getting his TOUR card in 2009. His best finish on TOUR is a tie for second at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. He also has a pair of fourths this season at The Honda Classic and The Heritage.
“I’ve always liked a course that kind of par is your friend,” Barnes said. “You’re making pars even on what some people call easy holes. You’re not losing shots to the field.
“Even out here, you chip away a lot of pars and grind the round out and steal a few birdies. And that’s kind of what I did to get myself back into the round.”
The good news for Luke Donald is that he’s still tied for the lead as he makes the turn for the back nine at Harbour Town. The bad news is that he just failed to birdie the par-4 ninth hole for the first time all week, sliding his birdie attempt from just inside 10 feet past the hole.
As a result, Donald is 1 under on his round after three birdies and two bogeys. That’s the worst he’s played the front nine at Harbour Town all week.
Meanwhile, Donald’s co-leader, Ricky Barnes is 4 under through his first 10 with all his birdies coming in the first five holes.
Ricky Barnes didn’t waste any time moving into contention Sunday. He stuck his approach on No. 1 to set up this early birdie. Click here to watch
BARNES: The co-leader added to his score with this 22-footer for birdie. Click to watch
BRANDT SNEDKER: Snedeker capped his front-nine 30 with this birdie on No. 9. Click to watch
AARON BADDELEY: The Aussie chipped in for birdie on the par-5 second. Click to watch
By Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- There’s only a slight breeze at Harbour Town today, unlike the gusts of 15-20 mph that prevailed on Saturday. If the wind remains minimal, conditions could be ideal for an exciting shootout in the final round of The Heritage.
There are 15 players bunched within five shots of leader Luke Donald, including defending champion Jim Furyk, who is one shot behind at 10 under.
“You can’t play protective golf, you have to go out there and try to win it, make some birdies and not try to hold on to that lead,” Donald said. “I don’t know if it’s going to be windy again, but the course is only getting harder and faster.”
“A good round by one of those people could separate themselves from the field,” Furyk said.
Donald has entered the final round with a lead on six occasions, with his only win coming at the 2006 Honda Classic. (He also led after 54 holes at the 2002 Southern Farm Bureau Classic and was declared the winner when the final round was cancelled due to bad weather.) Donald has four top-10s in his last five starts and will become the No. 1 ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking with a victory. Donald has history in his favor; the third-round leader has gone on to win nine of 16 events this year on the PGA TOUR.
Furyk won last year’s tournament at 13 under. He’s trying to become the 12 th champion to post all four rounds in the 60s. He’s shown that Furyk consistency all week, hitting 83.3 percent of fairways and 70.4 percent of greens in regulation, which both rank among the top five in the field. And Furyk has gone 254 holes at Harbour Town without a three-putt.
The duo at 9-under includes Brendon de Jonge and Scott Verplank. De Jonge must find a way to back up his 66 from Saturday; he’s searching for his first TOUR win. Verplank has good history at Harbour Town, with three top-10s.
Others who are expected to get involved in the action on Sunday include: Ricky Barnes and Tommy Gainey, who have shot identical rounds of 71-67-67 and are three shots behind Donald; Jason Day, whose mid-round stumble dropped him to 8-under; Pat Perez, who has shot 67 and 68 on consecutive days; and veteran Chris Couch, looking for his first win since 2006, and Jason Dufner, seeking his first TOUR win, both at 7-under.