It took three days, but they’ve played two full rounds at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The picture has come a little bit more into focus, but before we jump forward, here here are five storylines from a day during which most of the field finished Round 2 and a few started Round 3:
1) Best of both worlds
It’s hard to imagine that things could be falling together any more beautifully for Mark Wilson.
Not only did he win his first time out in 2011, but Wilson finds himself in contention again. Rounds of 65-64 have Wilson at 13 under, one behind Tommy Gainey through 36 holes.
Crazy fun as that is, it gets even better, because Wilson should be in position to catch at least the second half of the Super Bowl, where his beloved Packers are taking on the Steelers.
“I’m saying 24-21, Packers,” said the Wisconsin native.
Had it been a normal tournament, Wilson might have been rushing to catch a flight Sunday night. Only this is hardly a normal tournament; the second round wasn’t completed until late Saturday, so play will be pushed into Monday.
That will afford Wilson and others time to watch the conclusion of the football game. Which might not be a good thing, Wilson suggested.
“I don’t have anything to do with the game, but I still get nervous,” Wilson said. “I guess I know what my wife and family feel like when they’re watching me play golf.”
2) Now that’s playing to the crowd
Jarrod Lyle sounded a little like Bogie in “Casablanca.” You know, “. . . of all the gin joints in all the towns . . .”
But there was no other way to capture the moment that created thunderous roars in the valley. The unheralded Aussie simply couldn’t have picked a better time to make the perfect play.
“That’s my first hole-in-one as a professional,” Lyle said of his 8-iron from 150 yards. “Of all the holes to have a hole-in-one in the world, this is probably the best one that you can think of.”
Naturally, he was talking about golf’s only bona fide arena, the enclosed par-3 16th at TPC Scottsdale that is pure madness and unfiltered fun.
It is the eighth ace at that hole during the tournament, and Lyle celebrated with wild fist pumps, joined by some 20,000 folks in the grandstands.
“It was,” he said, “an incredible feeling.”
Until someone reminded him of the golf tradition that goes back forever.
“Somebody said I owe everybody a drink,” Lyle said. “I’m looking around and thinking, ‘There’s 20,000 people here; that’s a lot of drinks.”
3) Unfamiliar territory
We’re not talking about the Valley of the Sun, of course. Not when you consider that Geoff Ogilvy lived in Scottsdale for years. (He and his wife recently moved to Del Mar, Calif.)
But we are referring to the leaderboard here at TPC Scottsdale, because this venue has not treated the Aussie well. In fact, Ogilvy is playing for the 10th straight year here, but he has missed four cuts and finished no better than T-17.
Who knows? Perhaps by moving out of town, Ogilvy doesn’t feel the hometown pressure because he has quietly posted 9 under to get in the thick of things. Pretty impressive, given that Ogilvy is making his season debut, thanks to being sidelined a few weeks because of a cut on a finger that required 12 stitches.
4) Showing some life
In danger of squandering an opening 67 with a miserable start to his second round, Fred Couples dug deep and found a little of the old magic. Birdies on three of his last six holes – including the raucous spots, the par-3 16th and par-4 17th – Couples got it home in 4 under to make the cut.
He had started his second round with bogeys on three of his first seven holes before turning it around.
5) Bandwagon comes to a halt
The most exciting ride of the young PGA Tour season will shut down for a little bit. That’s because Jhonattan Vegas shot 70-70 to miss the cut and he won’t be teeing it up next week at Pebble Beach, either.
Not that Vegas, who won at the Hope and was in contention at Torrey Pines, didn’t acquit himself well at TPC Scottsdale, mind you. Heck, he ran his streak of sub-par rounds to 12, and it’s not as if he missed the cut by a mile. Fact is, he missed by just one.
In other words, he’s still Johnny Vegas, the feel-good story thus far in 2011.