PGA Championship Field 2014: Golfers to Watch on Day 2

Mike DudurichContributor IAugust 7, 2014

PGA Championship Field 2014: Golfers to Watch on Day 2

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    A moment of frustration turned Rory McIlroy's hat around Thursday.
    A moment of frustration turned Rory McIlroy's hat around Thursday.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    It's not surprising that players like Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer are tied at the top of the PGA Championship leaderboard after one round. Many times in the past, players with less-than-superstar talents have led after one round and quickly disappeared in the second.

    But several of the game's superstars bear watching in Friday's second round. Some are for positive reasons, others for negative ones.

    Can Tiger Woods get it together enough to play on the weekend?

    Is Rory McIlroy about to take control of the 96th PGA Championship?

    What about Phil Mickelson? Which way will his second round go?

    Check out the following list of players to watch on Day 2.

Tiger Woods

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    Unhappiness, but not pain, was a major part of his first round.
    Unhappiness, but not pain, was a major part of his first round.John Locher/Associated Press

    Tee Time: 1:45 p.m. ET; No. 1 tee (with Padraig Harrington and Phil Mickelson)

    Why You Need to Watch

    The most polarizing figure in golf posted a first-round 74 Thursday and looked very much like a guy whose game was certainly not in major championship form. That wasn't unexpected, considering he had withdrawn in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last Sunday.

    Considering he had played only nine practice holes on Wednesday, he was feeling his way around the course Thursday.

    After another night of treatment on his stiff back, chances are good, considering it's Woods, that he'll play much better. The other side of that is he has not played well in his limited season, so why should we think he will on Friday?

    Sounds like must-see TV.

    Friday’s Pass or Fail

    Woods has to come up with something overnight to help him get his ball and swing under control. His swing produced some spectacularly bad shots, and his ball refused to go into the hole on the greens. He only one-putted four times in his total of 30 putts.

    If his back is bothering him Friday afternoon and he can't find fairways more consistently or start making putts, the most he'll get out of the PGA Championship will be 36 holes.


    He's done miraculous things in the past, but most of those have come when he was on his game and was reasonably healthy. Woods is neither at this point, which gives little reason to believe he'll be able to make a charge and shoot something in the mid-60s to get him into the weekend.

    He'll play a little better, or at least make less offline shots, but he won't make the cut.

Rickie Fowler

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    Rickie Fowler has the best overall record in majors this year.
    Rickie Fowler has the best overall record in majors this year.Associated Press

    Tee Time: 1:15 p.m. ET; No. 1 tee (with Victor Dubuisson and Ernie Els)

    Why You Need to Watch

    Because the kid who dresses with a flashy orange tint most days has posted the best finishes in the majors this year (T5, T2, T2) and put up another solid major round on Thursday at 69. He's going to win one of these sooner rather than later, and you wouldn't want to miss his coming-out party.

    He made five birdies and three bogeys in his first round and was just fine being a handful of shots behind the leaders. 

    "Personally, I’d rather be 10 shots out front going into Sunday," Fowler told reporters after the round. "But you have to go through your process and stick with a game plan and see where that puts me. It’s been a good year so far in the majors. I definitely feel good and confident in my game. ”

    Fowler has not only been solid in the majors, but he's been good solid, with lots of rounds in the 60s—a little more than half (seven) of his 13 rounds on golf's most difficult tests.

    Friday’s Pass or Fail 

    If he somehow wakes up Friday morning and finds himself overwhelmed by the greatness of the second round of the PGA Championship, that will show early, and the calm, aggressive demeanor we've seen in majors won't be there.

    There's a much better chance he'll come out Friday afternoon and continue with his dogged approach on the course. He will put up another below-par round to be in great shape for the weekend.


    Fowler is for real, and with each passing major championship, he becomes more and more of a real player in the majors. The transformation of his game since he became a student of Butch Harmon last December has been remarkable. The winner Sunday evening will have to deal with Fowler.

Rory McIlroy

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    Rory McIlroy played well except for a double bogey.
    Rory McIlroy played well except for a double bogey.David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Tee Time:  8:35 a.m. ET; No. 10 tee (with Bubba Watson and Martin Kaymer)

    Why You Need to Watch

    Because as good as McIlroy was in the first round—and his 66 was pretty goodhe can do even better. Yes, he made eight birdies, but he also started his back nine with a double bogey and a bogey. After that, he played the way he did at Firestone last week and at Royal Liverpool a few weeks ago.

    He made four birdies in a row and five in the last seven holes to finish up his round. As my colleague Tom Weir summed up, "So yes, the world’s No. 1-ranked player knows how to shake off a disaster."

    McIlroy is the best player in the world. That's why you should watch.

    Friday’s Pass or Fail

    He had one really bad shot in the opening round, a pull-hooked 3-wood from the middle of the 10th fairway that sailed out of bounds and led to the double bogey. If there's a recurrence of that sort, there might be cause for concern. That's not likely to be an issue, however.


    The worst McIlroy will shoot Friday is 66. He'll most likely be two or three shots better than that and will take control of the tournament.

Sergio Garcia

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    Sergio Garcia gets ready to tee it up Thursday.
    Sergio Garcia gets ready to tee it up Thursday.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Tee Time:  8:15 a.m. ET; No. 1 tee (with Steve Stricker and Tom Watson)

    Why You Need to Watch

    Sergio Garcia put up three birdies and two bogeys in his first round for a one-under 70. That puts him in the chase position, trying to run down the leaders who are five shots ahead of him. He won't be chasing Tiger Woods, as he has done for decades. Now, the target is Rory McIlroy, and Garcia has had two cracks at the Northern Irishman recently and couldn't handle him.

    Garcia could put on a spirited charge and get into contention, or he could implode into an also-ran who doesn't even make the cut.

    Friday’s Pass or Fail 

    In the last year, Garcia has become more composed with a better attitude. That will be tested early in the day as he knows he'll need to post a good score, because course conditions are such that birdies can be made from anywhere. If the composure and attitude start to go, it could get ugly.


    Weather conditions aren't predicted to be very good for the second round. That could spell major trouble for Garcia. He'll struggle to a mid-70s round and will sweat out making the cut.

Adam Scott

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    Adam Scott takes on a difficult bunker shot.
    Adam Scott takes on a difficult bunker shot.Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    Tee Time:  1:25 p.m. ET; No. 1 tee (with Lee Westwood and Jordan Spieth)

    Why You Need to Watch

    The recently deposed No. 1 player in the world had something of a ho-hum first round, making three birdies and three bogeys to get in at even-par 71. In a story in The Sydney Morning Herald, Scott said he needed to be more aggressive this week on certain holes to get his game going.

    Scott has been playing well, and if he gets it going in the second round, he's capable of posting one of those low rounds that will get him back in the hunt.

    Friday’s Pass or Fail

    When everything is going well, his anchored putting stroke and long putter can light it up in a hurry. The fact he made only three birdies Thursday tells you it wasn't going well. If he doesn't roll in some putts early on Friday, this may not be his week.


    Scott is too talented to play four rounds in the year's last major without making a sound. He'll get himself in position for the weekend with a round in the 60s Friday and will get it going over the weekend.

Lee Westwood

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    Lee Westwood has rarely been in the media center in the majors.
    Lee Westwood has rarely been in the media center in the majors.USA TODAY Sports

    Tee Time: 1:25 p.m. ET; No. 1 tee (with Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott)

    Why You Need to Watch

    Lee Westwood is 0-of-66 in major championship appearances and has never finished higher than third in the PGA Championship. He started off Thursday with a double bogey on his opening hole. He responded to that start by making nine birdies in the last 17 holes, including four in a row to close out his front nine.

    Might this be the tournament he breaks through his major roadblock? 

    That's why you need to watch—to see how he follows up that 65.

    Friday’s Pass or Fail

    Even in regular events, trying to back up a great round with another is very difficult. But he did finish the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational with a round of 63, so maybe he's on something of a roll. If his putter goes cold after he needed just 25 on Thursday, that could be a sign the pressure has quickly built up.


    Westwood will shoot around even par, make the cut and put himself in position over the weekend to have another frustrating finish in a major championship.

Phil Mickelson

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    Phil Mickelson got off to a rough start Thursday but rebounded well.
    Phil Mickelson got off to a rough start Thursday but rebounded well.USA TODAY Sports

    Tee Time: 1:45 p.m. ET; No. 1 tee (with Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods)

    Why You Need to Watch 

    Because it's Phil Mickelson, and who knows what the big left-hander is going to do from day-to-day? Come to think of it, you never really know what Mickelson might do from one part of a round to another. 

    He came to Valhalla pumped about his game after shooting 62 in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. He thought his game was finally where he wanted it to be, but when he swung a club for the first time in the PGA Championship, it rocketed far left.

    “When you are not in contention, when you haven’t won a tournament, when you haven’t played the way you expect to and you are not in the final group for a while, you get nervous, and that is exactly what happened,” Mickelson told reporters after finishing up his opening round on Thursday. “I just made some unconfident swings.”

    Friday’s Pass or Fail 

    On Thursday, Mickelson was able to grab onto a round that was going in the wrong direction quickly as he was two-over par after eight holes. He salvaged the day by playing the last 10 holes at four under. That 62 he shot at Firestone was great, but it came with him being far from the lead. It's only the second round of the PGA Championship, but he's in contention ahead of Friday. 

    Because of the constant inconsistency in his game this year, it will be a hole-to-hole day for Mickelson. If he starts going sideways and can get it back again, that's a good sign. If the round gets away from him, it could be a 75 or worse...and the roller coaster continues.


    Mickelson hasn't had a top-10 finish this year and may not get one this week, either. But he's going to hang in on Friday, finish somewhere around par and get to the weekend.