6:00 That's it for me today. At day's end we've got a studly leaderboard with Harrington still on top at -8 and a dogpile behind him of Furyk, Watson, Goosen, Pettersson and Elkington at 7-under (Elkington's still got a couple holes left to play out today). Stricker and Maggert lie in waiting at -6.
5:59 Goosen finishes up with a par, putting him at -3 for the day, -7 for the tournament, tied for second.
5:58 Looks like the cut will remain at 1-over, leaving stalwarths like Garcia and Cink on the outside looking in.
5:55 Maggert hits a great wedge out of trouble behind the green on 18. He'll hit the showers at -6, a great finish after that tough stretch in the middle of the day. If he can keep a cool head tomorrow he's still very much in the thick of things.
5:54 Wow, I guess I spoke too soon. That Sergio putt turned out to be more like 5 or 6 feet and he left it short. He's at 2-over, hoping for a shift on the cut line. The song remains the same for Garcia, missed putts at the worst times.
5:53 Stricker's got a great mindset. Even though he left a couple birdies out there, he knows he played a great round and he's just a couple strokes off the lead.
5:51 Considering how little star power has reared its head so far this season, there might be more excitement than usual for this weekend. Sure, the NCAAs will pretty much crush any real hoopla, but it's good to see so many great players playing well before Bay Hill. Should make a great leadup to the Masters.
5:49 Pavin sinks an 8-footer to stay at -2 through 14. He's not just here for the photo ops, the old man can still play.
5:47 Garcia absolutely sticks it to 4 feet on 18. A birdie there will keep him comfortably on the right side of the cut line. That had to be a relief for him and whatever gallery he still commands.
5:45 Stricker makes another absolutely awful birdie putt...that's two in a row. You have to wonder if he's fading a little bit to finish the day, because this is just not the Stricker we've become accustom to since his comeback...and then his other comeback.
5:43 Goosen lips out for birdie on the 8th, he really wanted that one, great effort...sorry I'm out of cliches.
5:41 Glover makes a good swipe at his second shot on 8. At plus-1 he's going to need to be more careful than aggressive over his last couple holes.
5:39 Stricker nearly whacks the flagstick on 18, he'll have a good chance at a birdie to finish out his round.
5:37 Maggert gives himself a decent birdie opportunity with a good iron off the tee on the 8th. He could really use to finish strong so he's not kicking himself tonight.
5:34 Willis double-bogeys 9 (his final hole) to bring him to Even par for the tournament. Pretty unbelievable after the way he carved up the course yesterday, but, frankly, he should be very happy to make it to the weekend. Hopefully he can make up some ground over the next couple days and feel like he had a good run.
5:32 Goosen does his best with a 45-footer for par after an errant drive, but comes up short. He's going to drop back to -7. The big winner so far this afternoon? Padraig Harrington, whose 8-under total has been matched but not beaten at any point today.
5:31 Maggert nails the flagstick on the 7th...a very lucky break cause that think was flying with crazy backspin. It'll leave him with a birdie try.
5:29 Stricker badly shorts a birdie try on 17...I think he just wants to give the rest of the field a false sense of confidence, a rare poor try from Stricker.
5:28 Elkington finishes 13 with a great slider, gets him to within one shot of the lead.
5:26 Sergio misses a tricky birdie putt on 16. He's got two more chances to pick up a stroke and make this cut.
5:22 I think it’s worth noting that the coming out party is the work of Ari Fleischer. Since Fleischer is a proud graduate of Middlebury College, I’m personally confident that he has never made and will never make a serious error in judgement. Speaking of which, did you know that from 2000-2003, Ari Fleischer worked 16 hours a day tending to sick puppies in an animal shelter...true story.
5:21 Jack on Tiger’s decision to start at the Masters “I’m surprised he is not playing some place before that, but then Tiger is Tiger.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
5:17 Stricker misses to drop a stroke at the 16th, dropping him to 6-under. The leaderboard is still studded, with Harrington, Goosen and Stricker the wolves of the group. It reads like a list of people who don't pick up the phone when I call.
5:16 Goosen birdies 15 to tie with Paddy for the lead. I still can't get over Goose using the cross-handed grip on a belly putter. How did one of the best putters on Tour become so completely terrified of the green? Then again, he's tied for the lead and I'm...not.
5:14 A great birdie bid that misses will leave Maggert, the Man Who Would Be Singh stuck at 5-under going to the 7th.
5:11 After a disastrous tee shot, Stricker makes a great approach to leave him about 12 feet for par.
5:08 Rachel Lehman is carrying the bag for her dad this week. She looks slightly better in a pair of shorts than Andy Martinez.
5:06 Jonathan Byrd continues an inconsistent day with an approach into the deep rough on the 9th. Despite 3 bogeys on the day he's only 2 off the lead, but he's going to need to settle down if he wants to keep with the salty veterans at the top of the board.
5:04 Ian Poulter sighting on the 15th. Makes a daring drive that cheats the sand and ends up okay on the back fringe...he's at plus two, needs to make a move for the weekend.
5:00 Ricky Barnes swings exactly like Vlad Guerrero...no, that's not a compliment.
4:59 Maggert mercifully makes par on the 5th. He's still at -5 only 3 shots back. In striking distance if he's back off tilt.
4:56 Goose and Stricker both make great safety plays (Stricker with a stellar "Texas wedge") to save par on the 5th and 15th respectively.
4:53 A less generous take on Fowler's lack of birdies from Mr. Barrett: "I’m
surprised Rickie Fowler isn’t helping out his alma mater Oklahoma State
in the NCAA hoops tourney. He’s really good at lay-ups"
4:51 Maggert was 84th on Tour last year in Bounce Back %...obviously I was hoping that number would be a lot higher or lower, but I went through the trouble of finding it, so I thought I'd share it anyway.
4:48 Stricker tries to make my Goose prediction look silly, but just misses a birdie putt on 14. He'll stay at 7-under
4:46 Jeff Quinney moves to 4-under with a birdie putt. He's a guy I’ve been waiting to come around. He seemed to be getting his act together when he got Matt Erwin, a young caddie with a really good head on his shoulders, on his bag a few years ago (you may remember their massively awkward chest bumps after a hole-in-one at riviera a couple years ago). There’s no reason he can’t be a consistent winner on Tour, he just can’t seem to put the pieces together.
4:42 Wow, a putter-throw coming off the green for Maggert. He might be getting a call from Virginia Venit for that one.
4:41 In what could ruin an otherwise great story, Maggert missed his putt and ended up double-bogeying the 4th. Like an unluckly clam, he's steaming.
4:40 Goosen with a ridiculously smooth putt from the fringe for birdie to move to -7. As shaky as Harrington's been the last year and a half, you'd have to call Goose the prohibitive favorite, right? Right?
4:39 Maggert is clearly upset after that bogey, he's now puttering around the next green after a terrible bunker shot (albeit out of a tough lie) and is now has a decent length putt just to bogey.
4:37 Another oh-so-close birdie miss for Fowler at 17. I know we keep saying this, but when his shots start falling, this kid is going to be ridiculously good, there's no doubt about it.
4:35 Did anyone else catch Willis’ interview after the first round. Couldn’t get over the fact that he seemed to be wearing a golf shirt with the bottom button done OVER a gold shirt with every button done, and he didn’t take off his sunglasses for the interview and was drinking water during the questions. All of his answers were completely on point, but those tiny things made me very uncomfortable, bummer.
4:33 Wondering what happened to Garrett Willis? I'll bet he is too. The local favorite is +5 on the day through 13.
4:29 Stricker saves par at the 17th to stay at -7. He just doesn't miss easy putts. It's like when people describe baseball players as "professional hitters." He's just a professional putter.
4:27 Sergio's gone from 4-over to Even over the last 5 holes. I guess that makes up for all the disappointment of the last 11 years.
4:25 Chamblee just used the word "robotic" 4 times in 15 seconds to describe Maggert...I guess Connell's not alone. In the meantime, Maggert misses the par putt and falls to 7-under.
4:24 Maggert absolutely butchers a birdie putt, could be trouble.
4:24 Cut line still stands at +1.
4:22 From Flyers blog writer Connell Barrett, "Jeff Maggert was put on this earth to make David Toms seem exciting". His words, Jeff, not mine.
4:21 Speaking of the Ryder Cup, David Duval (running at -1 for the Championship) is 13th in the standings. I’m rooting for a Duval comeback as much as anybody…but I can’t say I feel confident with him being a core member of that team right now, especially as crazy good as the Englishmen have been this year.
4:19 Stricker just misses what would have been his 4th straight birdie. He stays at -7.
4:18 I interviewed Pavin in ’08 (before he was named captain) and we talked a lot about the Ryder Cup. When I asked him what his least favorite thing about the Cup was, he said “That four guys have to sit out each of the team events. As a player, it's not a lot of fun to sit out…Some guys only get one Ryder Cup their whole career, and when you get there you want to play.” One thing you can be sure of in this Ryder Cup is that, if the US loses, nobody’s going to be throwing Pavin under the bus like the Euros did to Faldo. The perfect choice for captain if you're a player.
4:17 Corey Pavin, this years' Ryder Cup captain, makes a par at the 8th to stay Even for the tournament. Not bad for a good who could be playing on the Champions Tour right now.
4:14 Joe: I'm pretty sure I heard that Maggert is dedicating his play today to Chubbs' memory
4:13 andy said...
Here's a good story. Vijay singh pulls out due to a back injury and jeff maggert is his replacement.
Well Maggert is creeping up the leaderboard and if he wins he should give singh kick-back!
Couldn't agree more. Toms may be the talk of the day, but if he keeps playing like this, Maggert will be the talk of the weekend. He sure doesn't look like a guy who got into town at midnight on Wednesday night.
4:10 Maggert just missed a putt on that exact same line...they must be getting to like one another in that group.
4:08 Goosen uses the line from a Glover's putt to nail a long birdie, brings him to 6-under as well. The big names just keep piling up at the top of the leaderboard
4:07 Lee Janzen, 3-over, misses a pretty easy birdie chance at 17, that'll probably end his tournament
4:05 Hiccup for Lucas Glover. He went to move a pinecone on the first hole and accidently moved his ball, making a six for that hole...not pretty.
4:04 Steve Elkington buries a birdie at #7 to bring him to -6. It's getting awfully crowded at the top.
4:03: Wow, big gator hanging out on what looked like #2. Lizz Harmon's on the scene, how long has that guy been hanging around?
4:01 Stricker comes up short on the eagle putt, but he should finish with a birdie...he's on an absolute roll right now, about to head to -7
3:58 Steve Stricker knocks it on the green in two from 279 on the Par-5 11th...somebody's been eating his Wheaties.
3:56 Maggert sinks a 10-footer for birdie on the 1st. That ties him for the lead at 8-under. Not bad for a guy who's only playing because of Vijay's back problems.
If you haven’t read my colleague Alan Bastable’s profile on Fowler (http://www.golf.com/golf/tours_news/article/0,28136,1952383,00.html) definitely do it. If Tiger is part Jack/part Jordan, this kid is part Jack/part Nick Jonas (that’s a person, right?).
Rickie Fowler has had a bunch of good birdie chances so far, but can't convert. Still, no bogeys and he's at -4.
3:50 Leaderboard update
3:44 Speaking of Ishikawa, he wears Asics' new golf shoes. If you like their style in running shoes (as I do), you'll like these--they're really similar.
3:38 An Erik Estrada sighting at Innisbrook!. Sure, most people think of him as Ponch on Chips, but to me he'll always be the father figure to Vanilla Ice on The Surreal Life.
3:36 Joe Sixpack, in his own charming way, wants to know how Daly looks. To be honest, he looks great physically. He's still going waaaay past parallel and still somehow making it work. Personally I hope that this is the time that Daly gets it together. I interviewed him a couple years ago about his comeback and he was so charming, personable and committed that I wrote a gushing editorial called "Daly, finally back on the right track." I was still editing it 2 days later when the cops found him passed out at Hooters...needless to say, I'm reserving judgement this time around.
3:34 It was a good but not great day for KJ Choi. He finally strung together two sub-70 rounds, but the two time winner here he needs to make a move tomorrow to contend, which he’s going to need to do if he wants to make the Masters. I still feel bad that KJ didn’t get to be the first Asian player to win a major. He said all the right things when Yang won, but I can’t help but feel sure that he was disappointed that he didn’t get to put that one in the books.
3:32 The first hole, supposedly the easiest on the course, is giving players some trouble. Snedeker--among the best with the flatstick on Tour--just missed what looked like an easy birdie chance, stays at -4
3:29 David Toms says he didn't get to Florida until Wednesday night because he was on "spring break" with his kids...who knew that the key to a 63 is shot-gunning PBRs on the beach?
3:27 A couple more morning rounds of interest: John Daly shot even par to stay at -1, which will keep him around for the weekend. I'm glad he's playing well, because another stint on the European Tour is not a good idea...I'm pretty sure his pants are a violation of the Geneva Convention.
3:24 Harrington stat: Harrington finished his day with a paltry 24 putts. Paddy’s great approaches have had him in the top-10 nearly every year, including his disappointing 2009. This year? He’s 35th averaging 28.5 putts per round.
3:21 I should mention for those that don’t know, Copperhead is a par 71 (I was among those who didn’t know until I did some very confusing math yesterday afternoon).
3:19 Maggert takes advantage of Goose's mistake, making pretty much the exact same putt for par, still -7
3:17 Goosen leaves a putt haaaaanging on the edge for par at the 17th, keeping him at -4
3:14 Weather Report:
The gusting winds that hit 18 MPH yesterday are gone, which is in part to thank for the low scores this morning. On the other hand, the wind didn’t really pick up till the afternoon rounds yesterday, so we’re not out of the woods yet.
It seems like the entire country is 70 and sunny today. Between that and the NCAA Tourney, I have a feeling I’ll mostly be talking to myself. But that’s okay, I’m a great listener.
3:11 BTW, Bubba Watson's also there at minus 7
3:10 Toms: Without a doubt Toms was the story of the morning,
carding a 73 with 8 birdies. Just missed tying the course record on a 33-footer
on 18. His Friday 74 leaves him 3 off the lead, but still a great day for him.
Looks like there was extra room in the time machine next to Duval.
3:08 Quick Leaderboard
3:02 Here’s what you need to know from the morning rounds:
David Toms—More on him later.
Paddy Harrington—Finished his day with a year-low 65 and the lead. Great to see him turning it around.
Jim Furyk—Had a tournament-long bogey-free streak going until the 9th (his 36th hole).
Justin Leonard—Stuck a 7-iron for an ace at the 175-yard 13th
The inventors of the Tiger Text Ap (http://www.pcworld.com/article/190355/tigertext_the_app_for_spies_and_cheaters.html) which came out last month. Something tells me it’s been a busy day for them.
Dustin “Big Show” Johnson—Pretty much out of competition with a 2-over
Kenny Perry—Riding the edge after a 72
Ryo Ishikawa—more on him later
Okay, now on to the good stuff
3:00 Welcome back for the 2nd round of the Transitions Championship. Big questions for the day: Can Garrett Willis be a hometown hero? Will the snake pit bite again? Who is this guy, and what did he do with David Toms? Does Tiger get rollover minutes? Answers to these and more as the afternoon wears on.