The second round of the golf competition at the 2016 Rio Olympics went much better for the Americans as three members of the team are going to the weekend in red figures, but they are all chasing Australian Marcus Fraser, who held onto the lead at 10 under through two rounds.
Matt Kuchar is the low American at 3 under, seven off of the lead going into the weekend, but Bubba Watson (2 under) and Patrick Reed (1 under) both made moves up the leaderboard after rounds in the 60s on Friday after a rough start on Thursday. All three have an outside shot at a medal if they can find a low round or two on the weekend, as bronze medal position is currently 8 under.
That bronze medal position is currently held by Champion Golfer of the Year Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who continues to play well as he has over the past month. In the silver medal spot is Thomas Pieters, who had the second best round of the day (behind Danny Lee's 65) with a 66 to get to 9 under and second alone.
For a tournament that was maligned before it even started for lacking golf's top stars, the leaderboard is set up to produce a fairly intriguing finish. Justin Rose is T4 at 6 under and in the medal hunt and if some of the group in low red figures like Kuchar, Watson, Reed and Sergio Garcia can make a run on Saturday, we could have some good names fighting for medals.
No one could have reasonably looked at this field and format -- I am still baffled by the decision to make this an individual stroke play event and not some sort of team event - and expected the Olympic golf tournament to provide major-level excitement.
However, the lack of a runaway gold medalist early on, a course that features a closing par-5 (always good for late drama) and some golfers capable of producing scores in the mid-to-low 60s should produce some intriguing golf come Sunday when medals are on the line. If that turns out to be the case this weekend -- considering some anticipated a borderline disastrous event coming in -- these Olympics will have been a success.
The players seem to be excited about playing, the best in the field are finding their way into medal contention and some lesser known players are taking advantage of an opportunity to make a name for themselves on an international stage. That certainly sounds like an Olympic event to me.