Expect big names to mount Round 2 rallies after PLAYERS weather delay
6 Min Read
Written by Brady Kannon @lasvegasgolfer
Some pretty wild weather made its way to TPC Sawgrass during Round Two of THE PLAYERS Championship on Friday. Golfers teeing off in the morning wave fought high winds, firm greens, and very difficult scoring conditions. Only 15 players completed their rounds under par in the morning. Watching the coverage and keeping an eye on the forecast, it felt like it would become even more challenging for players teeing off in the afternoon, but scoring was actually a few ticks lower and more players were stringing together birdies versus what we saw earlier in the day. It was for about an hour or two that these afternoon starters were truly taking advantage of the calm before the storm.
There had been the threat of rain and possible thunder showers in the forecast all week, leading up to the championship - and sure enough, it showed up and stopped play at TPC Sawgrass not long after 4:30 p.m. ET. Saturday will be very interesting, as some players were pulled off the course on Friday not having even completed their initial nine holes.
But don't ever accuse the sportsbooks of not being creative. With the disruptive weather and a long way to go before Round 2 is completed, BetMGM Sportsbook is offering a betting market of "Who will lead after the second round?" It’s always a bit anticlimactic when play is suspended, but let's make lemonade here and see if we can have some fun with this unique situation.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Adam Svensson are currently your leaders, both at 8 under. Bezuidenhout is 4 under on his round and has completed 14 holes. Svensson, a +15000 winner at the RSM Classic back in mid-November, is also 4 under on his round, through just 11 holes. Ben Griffin, Min Woo Lee, and Collin Morikawa are tied for third at 6 under par for the championship. Griffin's second round is complete but Lee and Morikawa still have some golf to play. Lee has three holes to go and Morikawa, seven.
Taylor Pendrith and Scottie Scheffler are at 5 under par for the championship. Pendrith is through 13 holes and Scheffler, only through 10, has a 17-foot eagle putt looming on the par-5 11th hole when play resumes.
Odds to lead after second round (via BetMGM)
+130: Christiaan Bezuidenhout
+200: Adam Svensson
+500: Scottie Scheffler
+800: Collin Morikawa
+1600: Min Woo Lee
+2500: Adam Hadwin
+5000: Taylor Pendrith
+15000: Ben Griffin, Byeong-Hun An
+20000: Chad Ramey
Already in the clubhouse at 6 under, Griffin is an intriguing long shot at +15000. Hadwin is 4 under for the championship and already 3 under on his round, through just eight holes. He’ll resume his round Saturday on the par-5 ninth hole, where he has a putt of less than 5 feet left for birdie.
Here are some interesting statistics. Scheffler is ninth overall in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach but ranks 25th so far in Round 2. I don't expect him to drain this upcoming eagle putt, as he is 97th in the field for SG: Putting for the round and 89th overall. His work around the greens hasn't been stellar either, as he is 72nd in Scrambling in Round 2 and 30th overall. After firing an opening-round 65, it’s not surprising to see Collin Morikawa coming back to earth in Round 2. He's 139th in Scrambling, 98th for SG: Putting, and very much out of character, ranking 86th in the field in Round 2 for Driving Accuracy.
Bezuidenhout and Hadwin have been red-hot. Bezuidenhout ranks sixth in the field for SG: Approach in Round 2 and eighth overall. He is fifth SG: Tee to Green both so far on Friday and overall - and first in Scrambling on Friday, second overall. The game has been excellent and very steady so far for the South African. Through eight holes on Friday, Hadwin ranks seventh for SG: Approach, first in Scrambling and fifth in Driving Accuracy.
Give me Scottie Scheffler (+500) and Collin Morikawa (+800) to be your second-round Leaders. First of all, we are talking about world No. 2 and world No. 10, both two of your shorter shots on the odds board pre-tournament. Secondly, it is very difficult to handicap how these players with second-round golf still left to play are going to come out when play resumes on Saturday. Will they continue on the way they had been going on Friday? Will it turn for the better, or for the worse?
I'm going to fall back on an NFL football handicapping theory for this one. Teams that are playing well and are on a roll before heading into their bye week, tend to come out on the other side and stub their toe. Conversely, teams that are struggling going into their bye week, tend to come out improved or corrected and usually fare well in that very next game out of the bye.
When one is on a hot streak, the last thing they want to happen is something to stop that momentum. When one is struggling, a break can be welcomed, giving the team - or the golfer - time to regroup, make adjustments, and fix their issues. I think there is a very good chance that Scheffler and Morikawa will take advantage of this quick break to work out what has not been picture-perfect through the first part of this second round. Scheffler is obviously a heavy favorite to walk off of the 11th hole at 6 under par (at least). He'll then have another opportunity at the par-5 16th hole, which is currently playing as the easiest hole on the course.
Morikawa resumes his round on the relatively benign par-4 12th hole, currently the 13th-easiest hole on the course. He too still has the 16th hole left to play. The wind on Saturday morning is supposed to be fairly calm, around 10-12 MPH. The course could be a little softer after Friday's rain. I think both Scheffler and Morikawa have a great chance to get to 8 under par, if not better.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+130) and Adam Svensson (+200) are the two shortest shots in this market, neither with a tremendous amount of experience in leading golf tournaments. Even when Svensson won at Sea Island, it was a come-from-behind effort. Adam Hadwin is the other I will not be backing in this market, even though he has a very makeable birdie putt coming up when he returns to the ninth hole. Still, that only gets him to 5 under par with nine holes left to play. Again, going back to my breaking of the momentum theory, I believe the interruption will be difficult for these three players – while it benefits the major champions in Scheffler and Morikawa.
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