Aside from a steady wind, conditions were fairly good at Firestone today: the sun never disappeared, but a lot of the red scores did. A day after 17 golfers finished their rounds under par, only nine remain, led by Day at -4.
The low round of the day was the 3-under 67 posted by Lingmerth, along with South Korea’s K.T. Kim, the man who has terrorized Japan Tour leaderboards for most of the year. Lingmerth sounded relieved to be in the position he is in.
“Today was a scrambling sort of day for me.” Lingmerth said. “I putted really well, I chipped well around the greens. I wasn’t able to strike the ball as well as I have the past few months really. So I’m going to go to the range and work on that a little bit. I’m really glad I scored the way I did.”
Scott Piercy, coming off a surprising T2 at the U.S. Open, echoed a common sentiment about Firestone: that it’s a ball-striker’s course.
“You need to drive the ball well here to put yourself in the right position to even get it on the green.” said Piercy, the only golfer in the field to play both his rounds under par (69-69). It is not surprising that the 36-hole leader, Day, also leads the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
The field should consider themselves fortunate that Day is not further ahead. He three-putted from the fringe on the brutal 18th hole, one of only two bogeys for the man who seems unbeatable lately.
First-round leader William McGirt was another victim of 18. He was the tournament leader when he teed off at the last hole, but a double-bogey was a frustrating end to a 4-over 74. McGirt is at 2-under for the tournament, two strokes out of the lead. Piercy and Argentine rookie Emiliano Grillo are also at -2.
A group of four: Justin Thomas, Kevin Kisner, Adam Scott, and Jordan Spieth are all at 1-under, the only other players in the field under par. Spieth put together an incredible scrambling and putting round in round 1, helping to offset troubles off the tee. Birdies on his last four holes did not hurt either. In today’s round, despite only two bogeys, Spieth did not find as much success; he shot a 1-over 71, but with nearly the entire field struggling, Spieth finds himself well within contention.
The big story coming into the WGC-Bridgestone was the game of Dustin Johnson, playing in his first tournament since his breakthrough major victory at Oakmont just a few weeks ago. Johnson was up-and-down most of the day, and that inconsistency yielded a 3-over 73. That puts him at +2 for the tournament, six strokes back of Day.
Day and Lingmerth will be paired in Saturday’s final pairing, and will tee of at 2:00 PM. With 21 players within five strokes of the lead, it promises to be an exciting round.