Shane Lowry shot a two over 72 and still rose to places to 47th in tough conditions in his defence of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron.
The reason? The average score of 72.224 yesterday was the second-highest in tournament history (73.049 in 2007).
The Irish star, 29, had another rollercoaster round at Firestone Country Club, making just one par on the back nine in a round featuring six bogies and four birdies.
He had one three putt and 29 putts in his round but at least had the satisfaction of holing lengthy birdie putts from 16 feet at the 13th and 26 feet at the 14th.
It was also an improved performance off the tee and with the irons for Lowry but his efficiency around the greens was below par and he will be keen to get his game back in perfect working order for the Scottish Open and the Open as he battles to shake off the obvious disappointment of the US Open.
At eight over par, Lowry needs two exceptional rounds to turn a difficult week into a top 10 finish.
He’s also 12 stokes behind leader Jason Day, who finished birdie-birdie-bogey in tricky crosswinds for a 69 that leaves him one ahead of Sweden’s David Lingmerth on four under par.
Day’s 36-hole total matches the highest score to lead after two rounds in tournament history and he’s loving the challenge.
"If I had to pick, if I could play a lot of U.S. Opens every year, I’d love to because I feel like I play the U.S. Open's good," Day said. “This field is starting to feel that way because it’s difficult to hit fairways and you have to get it up around the greens to save yourself.
“I think the harder the better for me because there’s two aspects of a harder course and obviously a higher winning score is you've got the physical side of things.
"You have to hit it great from tee to green and putt good and all that stuff, but then it also brings in the mental side of things, too.
"Sometimes you're out there and you're not quite, quite in it and you've got to refocus and readjust yourself and push out all the negative thoughts. Everyone goes through it out there on the golf course, and that really shows how much grit you have deep down inside to get that thing done, and trying to want it more than everyone else."
Day has hit just 13 of 28 fairways through two rounds but while he’s missed 13 greens in regulation over the first two days, he’s made just three bogeys.
"I'm just focused on, okay, got to get this putt in, got to hit this next shot close to the hole," Day said. “I'm pushing forward, and that's where the mental toughness comes in, where you're not quite having your best round or having your best stuff and really trying to fight through it and make a score out of nothing."
Scrambling for pars from tough situations around the greens would normally be Lowry’s forte but as he’s ranked 55th around the greens this week and 54th for putting, he’ll need to improve in those areas to have any chance of salvaging something from his trip to Ohio.
Second-Round Notes – Friday, July 01, 2016
Weather: Light rains in the morning that changed to sunny skies in the afternoon. Temperatures hit the low 80s with winds blowing 12-22 mph from W-NW.
- Jason Day 67-69—136 (-4)
- David Lingmerth 70-67—137 (-3)
- William McGirt 64-74—138 (-2)
- Emiliano Grillo 67-71—138 (-2)
- Scott Piercy 69-69—138 (-2)
- Justin Thomas 70-69—139 (-1)
- Kevin Kisner 69-70—139 (-1)
- Jordan Spieth 68-71—139 (-1)
- Adam Scott 71-68—139 (-1)
Jason Day’s 4-under-par matches the highest leading score through 36 holes in tournament history. Tiger Woods and Luke Donald shared the 36-hole lead at 4-under par in 2005.
Jason Day, 1st (-4)
With rounds of 67-69, the world’s No. 1-ranked player, Jason Day, holds the 36-hole lead at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. Day and Scott Piercy are the only two players to shoot under par in each of the first two rounds of the event. This is the 11th time that Day has held or shared the 36-hole lead at a PGA TOUR event. He has converted three of those leads into victories.
Day is a three-time winner this season (Arnold Palmer Invitational, World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play, THE PLAYERS Championship) and leads the current FedExCup standings by 255 points over fellow Australian Adam Scott.
Day owns 10 PGA TOUR victories, including the 2014 and 2016 World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play. Should he go on to win this week, Day would join fellow Australian Geoff Ogilvy with three World Golf Championships titles. Tiger Woods, with 18, is the only player with more World Golf Championships victories. Day would become the first player to win back-to-back World Golf Championships events since Woods won the Cadillac Championship and the Bridgestone Invitational in 2013. Day would join Woods as the only players to win back-to-back World Golf Championships.
In his last 21 starts, dating back to the 2015 U.S. Open, Jason Day has 14 top-10 finishes including seven victories.
Day is making his seventh start at the Bridgestone Invitational. He finished T12 last year and T4 in 2011 for his only two top-15 results at Firestone Country Club. Day posted a first-round 63 in 2011 when he finished T4.
Day’s Strokes Gained stats:
Stat R1 Rank - R2 Rank - Cumulative
- Strokes Gained: Off the Tee 15 14 11
- Strokes Gained: Tee To Green 2 13 1
- Strokes Gained: Approach The Green2 18 6
- Strokes Gained: Around The Green 12 31 12
- Strokes Gained: Putting 31 8 17
Second-Round Lead Notes
- Day’s 36-hole score of 4-under-par matches the tournament high score for a second-round lead with Tiger Woods in 2005.
- The second-round leader has converted the 36-hole lead into victory seven times in the 17-year previous editions of the Bridgestone Invitational, with Tiger Woods the last player to do so in 2013. So far this season on the PGA TOUR, the 36-hole leader has gone on to win 11 of 32 events.
David Lingmerth, 2nd (-3)
Sweden’s David Lingmerth matched K.T. Kim’s low round of the day with a 3-under 67 to move from T18 to 2ndfollowing the second round. Lingmerth and first-round leader William McGirt are the two most recent winners of the Memorial Tournament held in nearby Columbus, Ohio. Lingmerth finished T6 last year in his only previous start at the Bridgestone Invitational with weekend rounds of 66-68.
Lingmerth went out in 31 with four birdies on the front nine. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting for round two (3.972).
Lingmerth's uncle, Goran, was a kicker for the Cleveland Browns in 1987.
Lingmerth’s lone top-10 finish this season came in a playoff-loss at the CareerBuilderChallenge. He has made 14 of 18 cuts on the PGA TOUR this season with 6 top-25 finishes and is No. 39 in the FedExCup standings. Thanks to his 2015 victory at The Memorial, Lingmerth finished last season at a career-best No. 37 in the FedExCup.
William McGirt, T3 (-2)
William McGirt, who turned 30 nine days ago, is competing in his first World Golf Championships event this week. McGirt, who held a four-stroke after round 1, was at 7-under for the tournament following the 2nd hole, bogeyed holes 9, 13 and 16 and a double bogey on the final hole dropped him to 2-under-par.
Aside from Jeff Maggert, who won the very first World Golf Championships at the 1999 Dell Match Play Championship, Russell Knox is the only player to win in his first World Golf Championships start while playing for the first time in the four-tournament series (at this season’s HSBC Champions).
Earlier this month, McGirt, from Boiling Springs, South Carolina, won the Memorial Tournament, at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, in a sudden-death playoff over Jon Curran for his first PGA TOUR victory in his 165th start.
McGirt, currently No. 13 in the FedExCup standings, is seeking his sixth top-10 finish of the season. His previous-best season featured four top-10s in 2014.
Adam Scott, T6 (-1)
Scott is playing in the Bridgestone Invitational for the 14th time having won the event in 2011, one of two World Golf Championships titles (2016 Cadillac Championship). Scott continued a strange trend making it now six consecutive starts in which he shot over par in round 1 (+1, 71) and under par in the second round (-2, 68).
Scott has won twice this season with victories at the Honda Classic and the Cadillac Championship and currently lies No. 2 in the FedExCup standings, trailing fellow Aussie Jason Day by 255 points.
Scott and defending champion Shane Lowry are the only two players in the field to win at the Bridgestone Invitational.
Along with his win in 2011, Scott has three more top-10 results in 13 starts at the Bridgestone Invitational (T8/2014, T9/2010, T10/2006).
Emiliano Grillo, T3 (-2)
Playing in the Bridgestone Invitational for the first time, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo recorded 3 birdies and 4 bogeys for a second-round 71 after shooting 67 in round 1.
Since winning the Safeway Open, the opening event of the 105-16 PGA TOUR Season, in a sudden-death playoff over Kevin Na, Grillo has failed to record another top-10 finish in 16 further events. The closest he has come to a top 10 since 2015 was a T11 at the Memorial Tournament earlier this month where he was one stroke off the lead through 54 holes before closing with 74 (+2) on the final day.
Grillo won the 2015 Web.com Tour Championship. He has also claimed a victory on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica.
Jordan Spieth, T7 (-1)
Jordan Spieth’s 36-hole standing (T7) is his best position on the leaderboard at a World Golf Championships event through two rounds. Spieth’s previous top position on a 36-hole leaderboard in a World Golf Championships was T8 at last year’s Bridgestone Invitational. His best finish at a World Golf Championships event is T5 at the Dell Match Play earlier this year.
Despite hitting only 12 of 28 fairways, Spieth is just four strokes off the lead thanks to leading the field in Strokes Gained, Putting with 5.184 strokes gained on the field.
Spieth’s Strokes Gained stats:
- Strokes Gained: Off the Tee 19
- Strokes Gained: Tee To Green 30
- Strokes Gained: Approach The Green 42
- Strokes Gained: Around The Green 35
- Strokes Gained: Putting 1 (5.184)
Spieth has made two previous appearances at the Bridgestone Invitational (49/2014, T10/2015), improving by nine strokes in his second visit to Firestone (285 in 2014, 276 in 2015).
Spieth’s best result in 11 previous World Golf Championships appearances is T5 at the 2014 Dell Match Play, losing in the Quarterfinals to Ernie Els (4 and 2). He also finished T7 at the HSBC Champions earlier this season.
Scott Piercy, who finished runner-up at the U.S. Open, joins Jason Day as the only two players with consecutive rounds under par.
U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson posted a 1-under 69 in the first round. Johnson’s best result in six previous starts at this event is 15th in 2010.
Justin Thomas recorded just the third eagle on the par-5, 667-yard 16th hole since the start of the Bridgestone Invitational in 1999 and first since 2008. Soren Hansen (Rd. 2, 2008) and Charley Hoffman (Rd. 2, 2007), are the only other players to eagle the hole in Bridgestone Invitational history.
No player has won all four World Golf Championships events, and only Tiger Woods has won three of them. His 18 WGC victories is well ahead of his nearest rival, Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy with three. Nine players have two WGC titles to their credit – Darren Clarke, Jason Day, Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter and Adam Scott – with Day (67), Johnson (69), Mickelson (73) and Scott (71) in this week’s field seeking a third title to join Ogilvy.
Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott climbed the list of players with the most World Golf Championships appearances (Dell Match Play, Cadillac Championship, Bridgestone Invitational and HSBC Champions since it become a World Golf Championships event in 2009) and now share third place on the list with Ernie Els with 48 appearances. Jim Furyk is now sixth on the list with 47 appearances. Lee Westwood has the most events with 54.
- Westwood, Lee 54
- Garcia, Sergio 49
- Els, Ernie 48
- Mickelson, Phil 48
- Scott, Adam48
- Furyk, Jim 47
- Woods, Tiger 44
- Poulter, Ian 44
There are 16 players participating in their first-ever Bridgestone Invitational this week, including eight making their World Golf Championships debut. Here’s a look at how they performed.
Kevin Chappell (T14), Billy Hurley III (T30), Andrew Johnston (T47), Michio Matsumura (56), William McGirt (T3), Younghan Song (T10), Brian Stuard (T10) and Yosuke Tsukada (58) are all in their first-ever World Golf Championships event.
Daniel Berger (WD), George Coetzee (T27), Emiliano Grillo (T3), Jim Herman (T35), Nathan Holman (55), Smylie Kaufman (T27), Russell Knox (T51) and Justin Thomas (T6) are playing in the Bridgestone Invitational for the first time.
Two former Florida State University golfers withdrew during the first round. Daniel Berger withdrew with a shoulder injury after hitting his opening tee shot. Berger receives $50,500 but the money is unofficial and he will not receive FedExCup points. Earlier this year, Berger also pulled out of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play after hurting his hand on a rock during a swing. Brooks Koepka also withdrew during the first round with an ankle injury.
Davis Love III, who received the Ambassador of Golf Award at a ceremony on Wednesday, withdrew after the first round with a torn labrum.
- R1 – William McGirt
- R2 – None
- Front nineBack nine Total
- R1 35.831 36.000 71.831
- R2 36.017 36.207 72.224
- Cumulative 35.924 36.103 72.027
The second-round scoring average of 72.224 is the second-highest in tournament history (73.049 in 2007)