Unlike Friday, there are plenty of players under par on Saturday morning at Kiawah's Ocean Course. The wind has calmed a bit, slowing from the treacherous 35 MPH gusts on Friday to 15 MPH breezes on Saturday. The PGA of America also set up some more benign pin placements, approximately 12 paces from the edge. As a result, we're seeing many fewer implosions and a couple low numbers on the front side.
Englishman Justin Rose has set the pace, playing the first 10 holes in 5-under par. Rose went out with an impressive 32 to pull within four shots of the lead. He then promptly moved into the red with a birdie on No. 10, and is currently the only player on the course under par for the championship. He has been one of the top players in the world over the past three seasons, and he was a trendy pick to capture his first major this week at Kiawah.
The season's highlight for Rose thus far is a win at the WGC at Doral, edging Bubba Watson. But he has been consistently in contention throughout the summer. He's now entering the most difficult stretch of the course but navigating through the back side in even-par could give him a shot on Sunday.
In addition to Rose, Steve Stricker is making some noise by carding three birdies through the first eight holes to move to even-par. Surprisingly, Stricker did not make his birdies on the easier first two holes but rather converted three of four on holes five through eight.
Stricker is perhaps the best putter in the game, but he's looking to play his way onto the Ryder Cup team this week. He'll almost certainly be a captain's pick (to pair with Tiger Woods) if he does not automatically qualify on points, but the priority now is to make a charge coming in to reserve a late Sunday tee time.
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