Nobody will ever mistake the Charles Schwab Challenge for the Open Championship, but inclement weather in Texas this week made “the draw” quite important, at least for Jason Kokrak.
Kokrak teed off late on Thursday and early on Friday, posting a pair of five-under 65s to reach 10 under for the tournament. The CJ Cup winner avoided the rain that halted play on Friday, and, more importantly, was able to carry over the momentum from Round 1.
“I like to tee off kind of that late/early tee time, kind of get into a little bit of a rhythm,” Kokrak said. “I don’t really like to tee off early and then have 24-plus hours before I tee off again. I was in a nice rhythm yesterday. I had some dinner with a couple of friends that just moved here, and you know, stuck to the game plan and rolled in some nice putts.”
Kokrak is two strong rounds away from a potential second win this year, after going nearly a decade without a PGA Tour victory. Not to get too far ahead, of course. Not to get too, too far ahead, but Kokrak is 20th in the U.S. Ryder Cup standings, firmly on the outside looking in, but could seriously shake things up should he go on to win. Sorry, sorry, we’re not getting that far ahead.
Charley Hoffman was an extremely popular bet this week, which usually always spells doom. That appeared to be the case Thursday, when Hoffman fell to three over through 11 holes. He managed to make two late birdies, though, posting a one-over 71.
Then, Hoffman went nuclear on Friday, shooting an eight-under 62 in soggy Colonial conditions to put himself in contention for the weekend. Hmmm, remind you of another tournament? Perhaps one in Texas? It should. Last month, at the Valero Texas Open, Hoffman was five over through 14 holes on Thursday, then flipped a switch, playing the final 58 holes in an absurd 21 under. Might we see something similar this week? He’ll be chasing the same guy he chased that week, too, in Jordan Spieth, who won the Valero over Hoffman by two.
Jordy can’t stop, won’t stop
Surprise, surprise, Spieth kept it rolling in his home state, at arguably his favorite course on tour, even after having his hot start stunted by a rain delay. He went bogey-free for a second straight day —no easy task at a tight, tree-lined course like Colonial, shooting a four-under 66 to take the solo lead into the weekend at 11 under. Much like he did at Kiawah, he’s driving it great, and this time coupling it with his patented red-hot flat stick. There’s some serious contenders at the top, but if Spieth is in full Spieth mode at this course, they might as well all be playing for second.
A vintage Lefty performance
Absolutely zero people would have blamed Phil Mickelson if he withdrew prior to the tournament this week. He earned it. But Mickelson refused, saying he had comitted to the event and wanted to follow through on it. Very admirable. Most likely scenario, though, was a swift missed cut. Straight to the jet. Back to Cali.
Mickelson was on that path Thursday, opening with a three-over 73. But on Friday he decided to give the fans a little extra post-PGA heroics, going out in two-under 33 and eventually reaching three under through 15, putting himself firmly inside the cut line.
Then, Mickelson bogeyed two of the last three, a well-earned ejection that his given him an extra two days of R&R as he prepares to go for the career grand slam at Torrey Pines next month. OK, we’re not saying he actually purposely bogeyed two of the last three, but we wouldn’t put it past him, either. He deserves nothing but a hat tip for this week. He committed, he came, he produced a few roars, and now he’s out. Vintage stuff, Lefty.