After an extremely interesting first round at Valhalla Golf Club Thursday, contending golfers are looking to pick up more positive momentum Friday during the second round of the 2014 PGA Championship.
The tournament is extremely tight and closely contested at the moment, which means that one bad round can spell disaster since so many top players are in the mix.
With that said, a strong second round will put some golfers in prime position to make a run at the title this weekend.
Here is the current outlook for the PGA Championship leaderboard along with further analysis regarding which golfers fans should keep an eye on during the second round:
Top Golfers to Watch on Day 2
Few golfers have had more near misses at majors than Lee Westwood. The talented Englishman has at least one top-three finish at all four majors, but he has never been able to seal the deal.
For as often as he finds himself in contention, it is quite incredible that he has yet to win. Those are demons that Westwood will have to deal with after a great first round.
Westwood shot a six-under 65 and entered the clubhouse with the lead Thursday. Although he hasn't been able to win majors, starting strong has been commonplace for him.
Westwood has also produced good finishes on a consistent basis at majors, as evidenced by this stat courtesy of GolfChannel.com's Jason Sobel:
While the 41-year-old star has to prove that he can keep this up for three more rounds, he came away from Thursday's round content and with plenty of confidence on his side, per Jennie Rees of The Courier-Journal.
"I played well," Westwood said. "Hit a lot of fairways. Putted nicely, which you need to do if you are going to shoot a low score. But I gave myself a lot of chances. All and all, there were no real weaknesses out there."
If Westwood can come anywhere close to maintaining that level of play, his major drought will likely come to an end. The second round will be key in that regard, though, since entering the weekend in contention would certainly give him even more momentum.
Jim Furyk isn't much unlike Westwood in the sense that both of them are masterful when it comes to contending at majors.
The one notable difference, though, is that Furyk has a major win to his credit.
The American veteran won the 2003 U.S. Open, which was a fantastic accomplishment, although he has gone 11 years without hoisting another major trophy.
Perhaps that will come to an end on Sunday as Furyk got off to a torrid start at Valhalla. He shot a five-under 66, which put him among the leaders at the conclusion of his opening round. Based on his recent play at majors, it seems like a near certainty that he will remain near the top.
According to Golf Channel's Justin Ray, Furyk has played as well as anyone at majors over the past year:
The one thing missing during that run is a victory. Furyk has 16 wins on the PGA Tour over the course of his career including that U.S. Open triumph, so he definitely isn't incapable of playing well down the stretch and closing things out.
If Furyk is able to hold steady or even improve in the second round, there will be plenty of reasons for the competition to worry.
Phil Mickelson has been searching for answers through much of 2014, with no wins—or top-10 finishes, for that matter—to his credit on the PGA Tour.
After his final-round 62 at last week's Bridgestone Invitational, however, Lefty gave his fans something to get excited about.
Mickelson followed that up with a solid two-under 69 Thursday at Valhalla, which put him within striking distance of the leaders. Based on Mickelson's comments leading up to the PGA Championship, he expected to be in fine form, according to Steve DiMeglio of USA Today:
It's been a while since I felt confident heading in (to a tournament), and I didn't know I was going to feel this way after the first two rounds last week. I was disappointed after the first few rounds because my expectations were that my game had turned the corner, and after the weekend, I feel that it has. I feel a lot more confident in my game, and hopefully I can put together four good rounds instead of just two.
... I don't want to put too much into one round. I'm interested to see how it goes Thursday, Friday, but certainly my confidence level and my practice sessions are totally different. I don't feel like I'm searching.
Even though Mickelson hasn't enjoyed his best years lately, he can never be counted out. He has the ability to flip the switch and put together four great rounds at any time, as evidenced by his Open Championship win last season.
He is streaky, but he is elite when he is on his game.
Mickelson's last couple rounds of golf suggest that he is in good form, but Friday's round will truly tell the story in that regard.
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