BEDMINSTER, N.J. – Cam Smith is leading, and his Ripper GC squad is tied for the team lead with Stinger GC. But there are plenty more news, notes and stats from the second round at Bedminster.
PHIL, HYFLYERS TRENDING: Phil Mickelson said earlier this week that he had a good feeling about his HyFlyers GC, who had finished fourth at Greenbrier. Now, both the captain and his team enter Sunday’s final round with an excellent opportunity to post their best-ever results.
Mickelson’s top individual finish is a tie for eighth last year in Chicago. His best finish this year is a tie for 13th in Singapore. He’s currently tied for second at 5 under, four shots behind Cameron Smith, while the HyFlyers are in solo fourth, just five shots off the lead.
Mickelson will be seeking his first individual podium result. Meanwhile, the HyFlyers’ only podium finish came last year in Chicago, when they finished third.
“With three scores counting and we're only five shots back or so, this is an exciting time for us, too,” Mickelson said. “We've come really close. Last week we were a shot out of the podium. We haven't been on the podium in the top 3 yet this year, and we're making progress as the year has progressed, so tomorrow is a good chance for us to play a good final round.
“We've led a couple of events and we've faltered on the final day, and we've been building this year. I think tomorrow is going to be a strong day for our team.”
Asked about his own individual play, Mickelson – who tied for second at the Masters in April – said, “It's the little things. It's the little shots that I used to not throw away around the greens. My short game is starting to come around. I'm starting to save some shots to keep the round going. I'm starting to drive the ball quite a bit straighter and in play.
“The game is getting easier, but you have to put it all together to score. I've hit a lot of good iron shots, too, and have had a lot of good opportunities to make some putts and birdies. The game is starting to feel easy again.”
CAM BOUNCES BACK FROM DOUBLE: First-round leader Cameron Smith suffered an early double bogey Saturday when his tee shot at the par-4 third found the water. But starting at the par-4 sixth, he birdied four of the next eight holes to regain the lead.
“Probably struggled a little bit on the back nine with the driver,” Smith said. “Hit a poor shot off 3, I think, as well. Other than that, it was pretty solid stuff.”
REED HOPING FOR SUNDAY CHARGE: Patrick Reed’s ability to produce a low round on Sunday has been instrumental in helping 4Aces GC maintain its position atop the season-long team standings.
With the Aces eight shots off the lead and Reed five shots behind Smith, it will take another low round to get both himself and the team on the podium.
“I'm going to try to run him down,” Reed said after his 1-under 70 on Saturday. “If not try to run him down, at least help the Aces get higher up that board.”
BURMESTER WITH TWO MAJOR WINNERS: Stinger GC’s Dean Burmester will be in the leaders group with six-time major winner Mickelson and 2022 Open champion Smith on Sunday. He’s looking forward to competing against two of LIV Golf’s biggest names.
“I've played with Cam before; it's super impressive,” said Burmester, who played with two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson on Saturday. “He's a really nice guy. It'll be the first time I play with Phil. Today was the first time I played with Bubba, and that's what this place offers you. I've seen some crazy stuff today, stuff that was super impressive.
“I'm looking forward to tomorrow and watching what Phil has got with a wedge, for sure.”
LAHIRI SHINES WITH 64: Crushers GC’s Anirban Lahiri shot a 7-under 64 on Saturday, three strokes better than any other score. He beat the field average by 7-1/2 strokes; by comparison, when his Crushers Captain Bryson DeChambeau shot 58 in the final round last week at Greenbrier, he beat the field average by 8-3/4 strokes.
Lahiri posted five birdies in his first six holes and was 7 under through his first 11 holes.
Driving distance – Matthew Wolff, 324.1-yard average
Longest drive – Dustin Johnson, 337.9 yards (18th hole)
Driving accuracy – Kevin Na, 93% (13 of 14)
Greens in regulation – Louis Oosthuizen, James Piot, Paul Casey, 89% (16 of 18)
Scrambling – Louis Oosthuizen, 100% (2 of 2)
Fewest putts – Cameron Smith, 23 putts
Most birdies – Anirban Lahiri, 9
Bogey-free rounds – Louis Oosthuizen (68)