Lowry five behind in Phoenix; Harrington splashes out
 Ben An

Ben An

Only two players hit more greens in regulation than Shane Lowry over the first two days of the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.

Unlike Pádraig Harrington (72-71), who found water from the tee at the 18th and bogeyed the hole to miss the one-under par cut by two strokes, Lowry was effective from the tee to green.

While his putter has been lukewarm so far, the Clara man is tied 21st on five-under par and only five shots behind the leaders, South Korea's Byeong Hun An (66-66) and American Brendan Steele (65-67). 

Scores

The 29-year old missed just three greens in regulation for the second day in a row — only Hideki Matsuyama and John Peterson hit more greens over the first two days — adding a three-under par 68 to his opening 69 at TPC Scottsdale.

Had Lowry's putter been a little warmer, he might have edged closer to the top of the leaderboard, where An and Steele lead by a stroke in 10 under par from Scotland's Martin Laird  (67-66), Matt Kuchar (64-69), 
South Korea's Sung Kang (68-65) and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama (65-68).

In two days, Lowry has holed just two putts of more than 10 feet with both efforts coming in round one.

The good news is that he's made just three bogeys with his only mistake on Friday coming when he drove into a fairway bunker at his 14th hole, the fifth, and only managed to advance the ball 50 feet further up the bunker.

Harrington, who has been struggling for months with a trapped nerve in his neck, was outside the top 100 for driving accuracy and greens hit.

Add to that the fact that he holed just three putts over 10 feet, it was no surprise that he birdied just one par four and three par fives in 36 holes, handing those shots back with five bogeys.

The Dubliner has now missed his first two cuts of the year and reappears next week at Pebble Beach.

Second-Round Lead Notes

Since 2000, second-round leaders/co-leaders of the event have held on for the win five times: Tom Lehman (2000), Mark Calcavecchia (2001), Phil Mickelson (2005, 2013) and J.B. Holmes (2008).

Last year, James Hahn held a one-stroke lead after 36 holes at 10-under-par. Eventual champion Hideki Matsuyama was three strokes back.

Through 11 events in the 2015-16 PGA TOUR Season, seven players have managed to convert a 36-hole lead/co-lead into victory, most recently with Hudson Swafford two weeks ago at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

10-under has been the leading score through 36 holes for each of the past three years at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Hideki Matsuyama

Defending Waste Management Phoenix Open champion Hideki Matsuyama bogeyed the 18th hole to record a second round 68 and enter the weekend one stroke off the lead.

Last year at TPC Scottsdale, Matsuyama opened with rounds of 65-70 and was three shots of the lead before going on to defeat Rickie Fowler in a playoff.

Matsuyama is making his fourth consecutive start in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he has yet to finish outside the top five. He finished T4 in 2014, T2 in 2015 and won in 2016. Interestingly, he has finished at 14-under 270 each year.

With FedExCup points leader Justin Thomas missing the cut, Matsuyama can surpass Thomas for first place in the season-long standings with a victory this week.

Matsuyama is making his sixth start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season this week. Among his previous five finishes was a victory at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and runner-up showings at the CIMB Classic and SBS Tournament of Champions.

On the Japan Golf Tour late last season, he won the Japan Open Golf Championship and Mitsui Sumitomo Visa Taiheiyo. Those two victories came in a four-week stretch where he claimed his win on the PGA TOUR at the WGC-HSBC Champions and finished second at the CIMB Classic.

In three starts at the Waste Management Phoenix Open coming into this week, Matsuyama has earned $1,913,200. By comparison, Phil Mickelson, who has won the event three times in 27 starts (before this week), has collected $3,865,363.

Prior to his bogey at the 18th hole on Friday, Matsuyama was the only player in the field without a bogey.

Martin Laird

Scottsdale resident Martin Laird opened with rounds of 67-66 to sit one stroke off the lead.

Laird owns two career top-five finishes at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, including a T3 in 2011 and a T5 in 2015, when he held the 54-hole lead by three strokes but finished bogey-double bogey to miss out on a playoff by three strokes.

Laird has made the cut in all five of his starts this season and ranks 36th in the FedExCup thanks to two top-10 finishes.

Sung Kang

South Korea’s Sung Kang finished up his first round on Friday morning with a bogey on the 18th hole for a 3-under 68, then went back out and shot a 6-under 65 in round two to sit one shot off the lead.

In 2015, Kang had Mike “Fluff” Cowan as his caddie when he shot a course-record and career-low 60 at Monterey Peninsula CC during the second round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Kang is making just his second career start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Previously, he finished T40 in 2012.

Matt Kuchar

First-round leader Matt Kuchar followed an opening 7-under 64 with a second round 2-under 69.

Kuchar, a seven-time TOUR winner, is in search of his first win since the 2014 RBC Heritage. He is also in search of his second win in the state of Arizona. In 2013, Kuchar beat 2010 Waste Management Phoenix Open champion Hunter Mahan in the Championship Match of the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play at Dove Mountain in Tucson.

Kuchar’s best finish in the Waste Management Phoenix Open is a T6 in 2009.

Kuchar is making his fourth start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season and first of the New Year. He has missed two cuts and finished T21 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

Rickie Fowler

In his ninth start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and a year removed from his playoff loss at TPC Scottsdale, Rickie Fowler opened with rounds of 67-68 to sit T7. He also finished second in 2010. 

Fowler, a three-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is in search of his first win since the 2015 Dell Technologies Championship at TPC Boston. Before that, he won the 2015 PLAYERS Championship and 2012 Wells Fargo Championship.

Last year, Fowler opened with rounds of 65-68 and was one stroke back through two rounds.

Phil Mickelson

Phil Mickelson is making his 28th start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, one start away from the record for most all-time at the event. Mickelson made the cut with rounds of 68-70 and sits T28 headed to the weekend.

En route to his three wins at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Mickelson held a four-stroke lead after 36 holes in 2013 after opening with rounds of 60-65 and was tied for the lead in 2005 after opening with rounds of 73-60. He was four strokes behind in 1996 before going on to win in a playoff.

Mickelson is making his fourth start of the season, with a T8 at the Safeway Open his best showing. He is in search of his 43rd career PGA TOUR victory and first since the 2013 Open Championship.  

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Last week’s winner of the Farmers Insurance Open Jon Rahm opened with rounds of 70-69 in his second start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In 2015, the Arizona State graduate finished T5 as an amateur.
  • Two-time Waste Management Phoenix Open champion J.B. Holmes opened with rounds of 67-70 to sit T21.
  • Former Scottsdale resident Bubba Watson shot a 3-over 74 on Friday, just his second over-par score in 40 rounds at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Watson missed the cut for just the second time in 11 starts.
  • After finishing T2 at the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open, Graham DeLaet reached a career-high world ranking of 26th but comes into the week ranked 212th in the world. DeLaet opened with rounds of 67-69 to sit T11.
  • FedExCup points leader Justin Thomas shot rounds of 69-73 to miss the cut for the first time this season and for the second consecutive year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
  • Coming off his first career PGA TOUR top-10 finish last week at the Farmers Insurance Open (T9), former Mackenzie Tour – PGA TOUR Canada Player of the Year J.J. Spaun recorded a 7-under 64 in round two to sit T7.
  • Past Waste Management Phoenix Open champions: Hideki Matsuyama/2016 (65-68, T3), Brooks Koepka/2015 (67-73, T48), Phil Mickelson/2005, 2013 (68-70, T28), Kyle Stanley/2012 (72-69, T61), Mark Wilson/2011 (70-72, MC), Hunter Mahan/2010 (71-70, T61), J.B. Holmes/2006, 2008 (67-70, T21) and Aaron Baddeley/2007 (74-68, MC). 

First-round Scoring Averages

Front 9             Back 9             Total                Cumulative

35.298             35.641             70.939             ---        

34.710             35.405             70.115             70.527

Bogey-free rounds at TPC Scottsdale:

  • R1: Byeong Hun An (66), Ryo Ishikawa (68), Chris Kirk (66), Matt Kuchar (64), Marc Leishman (68), Hideki Matsuyama (65), William McGirt (69), Phil Mickelson (68), Geoff Ogilvy (70), John Peterson (66).
  • R2: Scott Piercy (65), Martin Laird (66), Luke List (66), Brendan Steele (67), Morgan Hoffmann (67), Jason Bohn (68).