Sam Burns is making a move late in the day, and he's -3 thru 17 and into a tie for sixth with Swafford. Would love to see him get a win and see how the U.S. Ryder Cup team responds in terms of a possible captain's pick.
Low scores have been bountiful this week at the 2021 BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club. The scoring average once again dipped into the high 60s and there was a 59-threat in Round 2 on Friday. As a result of that run at 59, there is a new overnight leader at the second FedEx Cup Playoffs event after play was suspended following a lengthy weather delay late in the afternoon.
That new leader is Bryson DeChambeau, who dropped a 60 (by missing a putt from 6 feet on the final hole) just ahead of Patrick Cantlay, who shot 63 by playing the last two holes in 1 over. DeChambeau (-16) is one ahead of Cantlay (-15) and Jon Rahm (-15) with a handful of golfers (including Rahm) still left to finish up their second rounds.
Despite taking it deep, those two aren't out and galloping quite yet. Jon Rahm charged late. Sergio Garcia has cozied up to the top of the board, Rory McIlroy is lingering and Xander Schauffele (-9) and Hideki Matsuyama (-8) are well within striking distance of DeChambeau's lead.
Let's take a closer look at those rounds and what's in store for the weekend as we recap a thrilling second day at Caves Valley.
1. Bryson DeChambeau (-16): I went deep on DeChambeau's round here, but I do have a lingering thought. DeChambeau skipped print and internet media (people like me if I was at the event) and looked kind of sullen in his TV interviews. Despite the good golf and strong season, he just doesn't seem to be having a whole lot of fun right now. There are plenty of reasons this could be the case, but the bottom line is that it's unfortunate that all of the other stuff when it comes to DeChambeau shrouds both his spectacular ability and his willingness to expose himself to some risk to try and become the very best player in the world. Maybe the type of person who would expose himself to this type of risk is simply more preternaturally prone to this Other Stuff and it is more of a complement to rather than a byproduct of, but either way it is extremely unfortunate for everyone involved.
T2. Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm (-15): Cantlay is truly having one of the strangest statistical weeks of the entire season. He's outside the top 50 from tee to green but just putting his brains out. After Friday's second round, he's now made 14 putts from 9 feet or longer and gained over 11 strokes on the greens. The only other golfer even better than 5.0 strokes gained with his putter is Hudson Swafford at 5.9. Now the question is whether this can possibly continue. I say no, at least not at this clip, although Cantlay certainly has the ability to flip a switch from tee to green that few others have.
Lastly, how rare is is that somebody would lose strokes to the field from tee to green and still win an event? According to Justin Ray, it's only happened four times in 670 measured events. You can't putt your way out of below-average ball-striking — at least not if you want a trophy — and yet, that seems to be exactly what Cantlay is doing.
Rahm very well could be your 36-hole leader as those who have not finished the second round will be in position early on Saturday, and Rahm has a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 16 to tie the lead with DeChambeau. Rahm remains the +150 favorite despite DeChambeau's 60.
T4. Sergio Garcia, Sungjae Im (-12): Garcia is a problem. He's a problem for this field because he's finally found a hot putter, and he's going to be a problem for the U.S. Ryder Cup team here in a month. He shot his second consecutive round in the mid-60s, though he didn't flush it quite as well in Round 2 as he did on Thursday. He's in a similar spot to Cantlay in that you wonder when (not if) the putter cools off whether he'll make up those strokes with some better ball-striking. Those two have been two of the best ball-strikers in the world over the last few months so it wouldn't be unreasonable, but it will make for an interesting Saturday as they try to put some consistency together across the board.
T6. Hudson Swafford, Sam Burns (-11): Burns is still out on the course, and he's fascinating to me this weekend. He might have the most to gain of anybody in this field. As my colleague, Rick Gehman, pointed out on Thursday, Burns could legitimately win this week and next, take home $15 million, the PGA Tour Player of the Year award and play for the U.S. side in the Ryder Cup. Based on his recent form and how good he's been this week, that is absolutely on the table.
T8. Abraham Ancer, Rory McIlroy (-10): McIlroy said he hit his driver as well on Friday as he did on Thursday, and he's right. The difference? His average proximity on the second nine was 63 feet (yesterday it was 23). He played that side in even par, which isn't terrible, but he lost strokes on his approach on six holes on that side and didn't take advantage of a strong driving this week thus far. The good news for him is that he can lean in that 64 in Round 1 and play his way into contention over the next 27 holes leading into the back nine on Sunday.