PARAMUS, N.J. –– An afternoon charge by the world’s top-ranked player (Rory McIlroy) came in conjunction with more steady play by No. 2 (Adam Scott), though it was Phil Mickelson’s theatrics just to get into weekend play that perhaps earned the crowd’s greatest enthusiasm.
Certainly, the second round of The Barclays – stop No. 1 on the FedEx Cup playoff run – was a curious one.
It featured plenty of low scores (two 64s, two 65s, a field average of 71.058) and good storylines, some of which may have even taken a bit of the spotlight away from the co-leader, Cameron Tringale.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from Friday’s action:
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1. MAN OF THE PEOPLE: On the surface, it was no big deal. Mickelson probably enters luxury chalets dozens of times a year to thank his sponsors and meet guests. So as he strolled among folks at a chalet to the left of the fifth green at Ridgewood Country Club, it appeared normal.
Except for the fact that Mickelson had a wedge in his hand. And a ball in play on the carpeted floor. And fans were chugging away and offering beer to their hero.
“I don’t mind it. It’s fun,” Mickelson said, when asked if he was OK with hitting his second shot from the deck of the chalet, even as fans screamed for him and reached out to touch him.
His predicament had been created by a wild shot left and when the ball caromed off a cart path and landed in the chalet, there were to options: Drop in high, gnarly rough, or play it as it lies. Lefty chose the latter. Asked to rate the difficulty, he did not embellish his challenge.
“It wasn’t hard to make contact. It was hard to hit it on that skinny little green and get it to stop.”
Mickelson’s little 30-to-40-yard shot to the narrow green carried long and into a bunker, from where he made bogey. Next hole, he needed three putts from 31 feet and suddenly the sky wasn’t the only thing dark. So were his chances to make the cut, because Mickelson was 2 over.
Enter some vintage dramatics. With the bulk of the afternoon crowd following him, Mickelson slammed a 289-yard drive into the fairway at his 18th hole, the ninth, then hit a 160-yard approach to 8 feet. When he curled that one in, Mickelson was at 1 over and when things broke his way minutes later, Lefty was inside the cut.
No shock that he had done it in dramatic fashion.
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2. NOT A BAD DAY’S WORK: Not even Renaldo Nehemiah ever had a day with so many successful hurdles.
Yet for Henrik Stenson and McIlroy, it was the sort of jolt they needed to get back into this playoff tournament.
Jammed into a tie for 72nd after his opening 72, Stenson, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, made eight birdies en route to sharing the day’s best round, a 7-under 64. Hurdling 67 players, the Swede settled halfway home in joint sixth, just two back.
Impressive as that move was, what McIlroy did in the afternoon was even better. Trying to win his fourth straight tournament, the kid from Northern Ireland put himself in an awkward position with Thursday’s 74. All he did to answer that was make three birdies on each side, go bogey-free and jump over a whopping 74 players.
From T-101, McIlroy is now in a share of 27th, and feeling that he could move even more forward.
“I know how well I am playing and how comfortable I am with my game,” he said. “I expect if I execute my shots and stick to my game plan and do what I can, there’s low numbers in me.”
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3. TRAFFIC JAM AT THE TOP: Tringale was accepting congratulations for his first-ever 36-hole lead in a PGA Tour tournament when a bit of noise from the 18th green indicated a shift in the storyline.
Tringale only had a share of the lead at 8-under 134, because Adam Scott had stuffed it within a foot at the closing hole.
No worries, being a co-leader sounded nice to Tringale, whose 68 to back up his opening 66 is a brilliant way to get people to stop talking about that disqualification at the PGA Championship. Tringale, of course, earned wide-spread praise for calling a penalty on himself five days after the major championship ended, saying a swipe he made at a short putt could have been construed as a stroke. He made bogey, not par, accepted the DQ, and forfeited $53,000.
Of course, the winner’s share of $1.44 million at this playoff event would easily make up for the lost wages out of Louisville, Ky.
Tringale, whose best finish on the PGA Tour is a third at the Tampa Bay Championship in 2013, has plenty of company in pursuit of this big prize. Scott birdied five of his first seven holes, shot 65, and has a share of the halfway lead for the 19th time in his career. He’s gone on to win on 10 of those occasions, but none of the last three.
If Scott is to snap that skid, he’ll have to do it in the face of stiff competition, because three players (Kevin Chappell, 67; Brendon Todd, 69; and Jim Furyk, 69) are at 7 under and a log-jam of a half-dozen names (Stenson; Ernie Els, 68; Jason Day, 64; Bo Van Pelt, 71; Kevin Na, 66; and Russell Knox, 69) are all at 6 under.
In other words, you didn’t have to wander out onto the Garden State Turnpike to find a crowd.
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4. HE DUG HIMSELF A HOLE: Seung-Yul Noh was more like Seung-Yul Didn’t Noh.
And guess what? He wasn’t alone. A handful of players and caddies said they, too, did not know the rule that Noh violated to bring about a two-stroke penalty.
He played a shot from the incorrect green.
It came at the par-4 11th when Noh, having driven wide right, discovered his ball on the green at the par-5 third. After waiting for Brendan Steele, Luke Donald, and Kevin Chappell to putt out on the hole, Noh from 171 yards played his second shot.
He was wide left with that one, but that miscue was compounded when rules official Brad Fabel, who was nearby, told him to tack on two for violating Rule 25-3. That rule states that if your ball comes to rest on the wrong green you must take relief and drop within one club length not nearer the hole.
While Noh and his newest caddie in a string of them, Dave Brooker, repaired the damage from his second shot, the pain of the added strokes wasn’t so easy to mend. Instead of 70 and a 36-hole total of 4-under 13, Noh is halfway home in 2-under 140.
He conceded he did not know the rule, but in that, he was not alone. His playing competitors, Graeme McDowell and George McNeill, told reporters they didn’t know it, either.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: When the cut fell at 1-over 143, 79 players had moved into weekend play. … Among those missing was Jimmy Walker, No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings. At level par, Walker snap-hooked his drive at the par-5 17th, made double-bogey, then bogeyed 18. Bad for him, good for others, because Walker’s heartache opened the door for 12 players at 1-over, including Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood, to make the cut. … Other cut casualties among those in the top 20 of the FEC standings: Webb Simpson, 13th; Martin Kaymer, 14th; Harris English, 17th; Ryan Moore, 19th. … Kaymer is 24 over in four PGA Tour tournaments since winning the U.S. Open. … Brandt Snedeker missed the cut in The Barclays for the third time in the last five starts. … Robert Garrigus was 2 under with nine to play, but came home in 40 to miss the cut. … Chesson Hadley shot 69 to make the cut on the number, halting a stretch of six straight missed cuts. That’s the good news. The bad news: He double-bogeyed his last hole to barely make it in. … On the flip side, Will MacKenzie shot 76 and has now missed the cut in 11 of his last 12 starts. … Knox doubled-bogeyed the par-5 third hole, but drove the green at the par-4 fifth and made a 19-foot eagle putt. Russell Henley, Brian Stuard, and Robert Allenby made the other eagles at the fifth.