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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Getting Our Bearings

It's shaping up to be a confusing weekend at THE PLAYERS. And since it's pretty much the only game in town this week, let's see if I can put things in a little perspective.

Jordan Spieth

Martin Kaymer and Jordan Spieth have -- for the moment -- separated themselves from the field. Kaymer leads at -12, Spieth is at -11, Russell Henley is a few back at -8, and the next closest pursuers are at -6. However, those pursuers are better described as a hungry pack of sharks:
  • Jim Furyk
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Lee Westwood
  • Gary Woodland
  • Justin Rose
That's a formidable leaderboard. While several of the expected sharks didn't make the cut -- Phil being the most noticeable -- and several others barely made the cut at even par -- pencil Rory in on that line -- this tournament is far from over.

However, Kaymer and Spieth can make this very difficult for the chasers. If either can manage to shoot, say, -6 for the final two rounds, closest pursuer Henley would need to shoot -10 to catch them. If the course continues to firm up, he's looking at something like 67-67 or 69-65. That's doable but it would be a challenge. The field will probably need some help to close the gap.

In addition to the tournament proper, we've got a race for #1 in the OWGR going on. With Tiger out of the picture, 4 players have a chance to leap to the top:
  • Matt Kuchar needs to win. (He's currently T37 at -2.)
  • Bubba Watson needs a solo second. (He's currently T25 at -3.)
  • Henrik Stenson needs 6th. (He's also currently T25 at -3.)
  • Adam Scott needs a T16. (He's currently T64 at E.)
Of these, Stenson seems to have the best chance... assuming Kaymer and Spieth take care of business, that is. If they start to back up, Adam probably has the best chance (it's easier to get a T16 than a 6th, after all). But I wouldn't bet on Tiger losing his spot this week; the candidates for the "Most Likely to Succeed" award don't look that sharp to me.

I don't understand exactly how the points are awarded. (I looked at the explanation at the OWGR site, but that didn't really help...) However, I think Spieth is likely to be the big winner this week -- even if he doesn't win, I think he may leapfrog over Jason Day into 6th place with just decent play.

This will be our chance to see if Jordan Spieth learned anything from his run at the Masters, and whether Martin Kaymer's swing changes (really, his return to the old swing that won him the PGA) can stand up under pressure. (Isn't it great to see him back in form again?) In either case, this should be a very interesting weekend.

We finally have a stacked leaderboard at a big tournament! HOORAY!!!

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