Fairways And Roughs Title

Jimmy Walker takes the lead at Firestone

By PGA Tour News
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AKRON, Ohio. – Notes and observations from Friday’s second round of the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational where a couple of weather delays weren’t enough to stop Jimmy Walker from surging to a two-shot lead. Walker posted an impressive 5-under 65 to jump to 7 under for the tournament two clear of Thomas Pieters as the Belgian ground out a 70 to stay 5 under. Zach Johnson (67), Rory McIlroy (69) and Hideki Matsuyama (67) sit just a shot further back. For more from Firestone Country Club, check out the Daily Wrap. WALKER’S WELCOME UPTICK Jimmy Walker has had a rough time this season dealing with the ongoing effects of Lyme Disease but at Firestone Country Club the only tick he was concerned with was an uptick in his form. Walker sits 105th in the FedExCup race this season and is without a top 10 finish since a T9 at the Tournament of Champions in early January. But he pumped out six birdies and just a lone bogey on Friday to fashion a lovely 5-under 65 and a two-shot lead at the top despite battling some physical limitations. “It's day-to-day,” Walker said of his condition. “Like I felt pretty good all week physically and I wake up this morning and I've just got this overall flu feeling in my body, so I take some Advil, it goes away. “And then during the last break, it came back, so I took some more. Now it's gone, and so it's just crap like that. You just never know when it's going to spike up.” Walker will defend his PGA Championship next week but is fully focused on getting a big result here – as much as he can be. Concentration has also been difficult with his ailment, with Walker having lapses on course. He also admitted he had failed to remember putting tickets aside for friends every day of the week among other small tasks. “There's still a lot of stuff that is lingering and hanging in there,” he added. “Just I hit weird shots on the golf course sometimes and just lose focus and concentration. I've really tried to step that up this week, really narrowing up the focus because it can slip away pretty fast. “It hasn't been a lot of fun this year. I mean, I had a few okay finishes, a lot of 30th, high 20s, just stuff that's not moving me around. But it's nice to see some putts go in and make some solid swings and keep rounds going, make some par putts, just the stuff I haven't been doing.” THE GOOD OLE DAY The Jason Day of old showed up at Firestone Country Club for a while on Friday. He was pouring in putts. Day clawed his way back into contention with a 4-under 66 bringing him within four shots of the lead and into a tie for sixth at 3 under after a blistering opening nine holes. The Australian had five birdies before the turn, needing just nine putts thanks to one chip in and another holed effort from the fringe. “I put myself on the greens, I was holing some putts, which was nice. To be able to do that again kind of brought up the memories of 2015 and 2016,” Day said. “It's all good things. I've been working very, very hard on my putting and pretty much everything in my game to try to turn it around and it seemed like there's a nice little glimmer of hope there.” The rain delay hit and the subsequent long break stunted his momentum with his lone three-putt coming directly after the resumption. But by the end of the day he was ranked sixth in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting for round two. Day is 60th this season in the statistic, a far cry from being the best on TOUR in 2016 and sixth on TOUR in 2015. “My short game has been absolutely terrible this year,” he said. “I haven't had the greatest putting year and it kind of puts pressure on other parts of the game. You're thinking that if you're not putting that great you need to hit the fairways more, and that puts pressure on the driving and then that puts pressure on hitting the greens. “I've been working very hard on trying to change that with my putting to ease the pressure on the rest of my game. Today was a good step in the right direction.” Day managed his nice round despite some stiffness in his back, but claimed it was not a long-term concern. CALL OF THE DAY “MUDDER” JOHNSON MOVES UP Zach Johnson won the Masters in bad weather. He did the same at the Open Championship. So when it was suggested the interruptions on Friday played into his hands he was happy to take it. Johnson’s 3-under 67 moved him into a tie for third just three back of Jimmy Walker’s lead. After play had been delayed 45 minutes at the beginning of the day the first of two weather interruptions lasted 46 minutes. Then in the afternoon players were forced off for 3 hours and 23 minutes. “I don't know what your definition of mudder is, but yeah, if that qualifies, I'll take it,” Johnson smiled. “It was hard before the second delay. When I first teed off it was manageable, but then it got really windy and it was difficult. It was very trying. “I like tough conditions. I also like perfect conditions. I mean, I'm not going to lie to you there. But yeah, for some reason, sometimes it brings out the best. Maybe I lower my expectations and just play.” ODDS AND ENDS Hideki Matsuyama is looking to make the World Golf Championships – Bridgestone Invitational a milestone to remember. This marks his 100th career start on the PGA TOUR and he sits just three off the lead at the halfway point. Currently third in the FedExCup this season Matsuyama has two wins and three runner-up finishes this season. Canada’s Adam Hadwin (T6) posted a 1-under 69 to follow his opening-round 68 to be in contention in his first World Golf Championships appearance, one of nine players in the field making their WGC debut this week.Hadwin, a first-time TOUR winner at this year’s Valspar Championship, sits at No. 12 in the Presidents Cup International Team standings and seeks to become the third Canadian to play in the Presidents Cup (Mike Weir, Graham DeLaet). “I have said it for a bunch of months now that it would be an honor to represent Canada on the squad,” Hadwin said. Adam Scott produced a monster 435-yard drive on the par-5 16th on Friday, part of him being ranked first in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee over the opening two rounds. Sadly for the 2011 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational champion the rest of his game hasn’t kept pace and his 71 Friday leaves him six shots back. Local Harold Varner III sat four over after just six holes in the opening round before battling back to shoot 70. On Friday he went one better with a 69 to be 1 under for the week and tied 13th. Defending champion Dustin Johnson is going to need a super weekend effort after a second round 75 dropped him to 3-over and 10 off the pace. Johnson shot a 5-over 40 on the opening nine holes on Friday. Making his first start in a World Golf Championships event, Hudson Swafford (T13) recorded a hole-in-one at the 214-yard 15th hole using a 6-iron. It was his second ace on TOUR (2015 FedEx St. Jude Classic). The ace was the 23rd this season and the first at the Bridgestone Invitational since 2011, when Jim Furyk made one at the fifth hole during the third round. Coincidentally, Furyk was the last player to score a hole-in-one at No. 15 – in the second round of 2006. SHOT OF THE DAY BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA


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