Johnnie Walker Championship 2013: Players Who Will Rise Up Day 2 Leaderboard
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Bernd Wiesberger and Ricardo Gonzalez lead after firing seven-under scores of 65 after the first round of the European Tour's 2013 Johnnie Walker Championship.
There is still plenty of golf to be played, though, and there are several world-class players who should make significant moves before the weekend rolls around.
It's difficult to project day-to-day scores in golf, where it's so hard to be consistent. However, there are some big names within striking distance who could have scored better in the first 18 holes and have a great opportunity to enter the final two rounds more prominently in contention.
Below are some prime candidates for Round 2's biggest risers at Scotland's Gleneagles Hotel on Friday.
Note: Statistics and information are courtesy of EuropeanTour.com.
Francesco Molinari (-3)
Oddsmakers had the Italian veteran as the consensus No. 1 favorite—and had Wiesberger in second, so there's definitely some merit to those listings thus far.
Molinari had a bit of an up-and-down day, failing to get any traction on the greens and converting just two out of five times in scrambling situations.
However, over the final four holes, his typically precise iron game began to reveal itself and he began to heat up, birdieing Nos. 15, 16 and 18 to finish at minus-three.
This is a special venue for Molinari and his brother, Edoardo.
The two brothers vacationed at Gleneagles as teenagers. Gleneagles also served as the stage where Francesco notched his first top 10 as a pro, and he hopes he and his brother can return for the Ryder Cup in 2014, per Lindsey Archibald of the Daily Record:
I always enjoy coming back to Gleneagles. I got my first top-10 finish on Tour here and I’ve got good memories even before that. I came here on holiday with Edoardo and my parents and some friends when we were younger so it almost feels like home.
It would be amazing to return and play a Ryder Cup here with Edoardo. Obviously, he has a really good record here, having won this tournament, but it’s going to be hard for him coming back from injury.
It's safe to say that Molinari harbors good vibes and history in this beautiful slice of Scottish golf. Considering his recent top 10 at the Open Championship, too, he should build on the momentum from the end of Thursday and vault up the leaderboard in Round 2.
Richie Ramsay (-3)
As a native of Scotland, it would certainly be nice for Ramsay to add a victory in the Johnnie Walker Championship to his professional resume.
If his form on the first day was any indication, he could very well be on his way. Ramsay hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation while missing only four fairways, but couldn't quite convert on enough opportunities.
The round nearly came unraveled on the difficult par-four 13th. It measures at 481 yards, and Ramsay suffered its wrath with a double bogey.
Instead of backpedaling, he capitalized on the back nine's last two par-fives, 16 and 18, with birdies and turned at level-par. Then, on the difficult front nine, he had a blemish-free scorecard with three birdies to close with a 69.
With a few more holed putts and absent the big number, Ramsay could have been atop the leaderboard. A scintillating finish on his back nine gives Ramsay plenty of momentum, and the good news is he will start on that same set on Friday.
Paul Lawrie (-2)
Who has the best chance of making a second-day charge?
The 1999 Open Championship winner also claimed victory at this event last year and is defending his title decently at the moment.
Hopefully there are still 54 more holes to go for Lawrie to prove himself. Early signs are good for the 44-year-old veteran, though, because he weathered a string of frustrating pars to ultimately salvage a respectable round.
Lawrie mentioned before the tournament that he was slightly frustrated with his form—he's had one top 10 since the second week of 2013—and stated that his driving accuracy has been a big part of his problems.
One optimistic sign from his two-under 70 is that he found eight of 14 fairways, while his typically stout short game kept him afloat. In converting four out of five scrambling opportunities, Lawrie was an impressive three-for-three from the tricky bunkers at Gleneagles.
A positive result would serve Lawrie well in this venue in which he's comfortable.
With his game currently in solid all-around shape, look for a slightly more aggressive Lawrie to be boosted by his birdie-par-birdie finish to the first round and post a lower number.
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