When professional golf last came to Indianapolis, the game’s big-hitting stars took center stage.
The 2012 edition of the BMW Championship brought the PGA Tour’s long bombers and big stars to the top of the leaderboard -- with Rory McIlroy taking home the first men’s professional golf event at Crooked Stick since John Daly’s win at the 1991 PGA Championship. Added length to the suburban Indianapolis track during a renovation, combined with wet conditions, meant 2016 was supposed to be more of the same in the Circle City.
And on Friday, it was the world’s big-hitting, second-best player making the move to the top of the leaderboard.
Dustin Johnson vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with a course-record 63, carding two eagles, five birdies, and no bogeys en route to one of his best rounds of the season on Tour. The highlight of his second round came from the bunker on the par-5 No. 9, a hole-out from the bunker for eagle.
This one was tracking the entire time.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 9, 2016
Eagle alert! https://t.co/MQErYGw1Nn
That started a stretch of 7-under in seven holes, with bookend eagles from No. 9 to No. 15 for DJ. But it’s not all bombers at Crooked Stick. Roberto Castro will be the interloper — tied at the top with DJ — when things get going tomorrow for the third round of the event.
Coming into the tournament ranking 156th in driving distance on tour and 53rd in the FedEx Cup standings, Castro has never won on the PGA Tour -- and his last career win came in a 2010 eGolf tour event. He was hardly a betting favorite headed to Crooked Stick, but he’s toured the course as well as any through the first two days. He followed up his opening-round 65 with another — this time carding seven birdies and no bogeys en route to a 14-under open to the tournament. He’s done it by hitting fairways at above an 80 percent clip to avoid the course’s thick, wet roughage.
“I think if you look at the TOUR, it sure helps to be long, but the guy who is striping it usually wins. Couple of my best weeks have come on long courses,” said Castro after the round. “I mean, Billy Hurley won at Congressional this year. It always helps to be long, but really the best player that particular week will win.”
Holmes, Kuchar, Watson in position for three Ryder Cup spots
Just behind the leaders, Paul Casey (-11) and Ryder Cup hopeful J.B. Holmes (-10) sit in third and fourth heading to Saturday. Holmes says he’s trying to spend less time thinking about the possibility of returning to the Ryder Cup for the first time since playing in his home state of Kentucky in 2008 — and it’s showing this week in Indy.
“It’s (been on my mind) in prior weeks,” Holmes said. “I think that I was focusing on it too much, because the last few weeks I’ve been able to kind of refocus on what I usually focus on and I’ve let it go. Obviously, it’s in the back of my mind, I definitely really want to make the team, but it’s out of my hands now, so all I can do is just go out and play golf and do the best I can.”
Holmes, second on tour in driving distance, echoed the idea that Crooked Stick might be a bomber’s course — and the rains only made that more obvious. It’s a clear positive for players like Johnson and Holmes if Saturday’s predicted storms come into play.
“After it rained it definitely soaked it up for the bombers to take advantage of a few holes. It can definitely can be good (for me). There’s a lot of great players out here that might not be a bomber who can win, but it’s definitely an advantage.”
Other Ryder Cup hopefuls (and Olympic teammates) Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar made moves on Friday in Indy, too. A second-round 67 (Watson) and 69 (Kuchar) will have them at T-10 and T-6, respectively, when things get underway on Saturday. Watson hasn’t spoken to captain Davis Love III since the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron in early July.
Does Bubba think he’ll get a call?
“I got two more days to impress, or, hopefully, he looks at World Rankings and sees I’m pretty decent.”
Round 3 tee times
|TEE #||TIME||PLAYER NAMES|
|1||11:00 a.m.||Jon Curran, Charles Howell III, Jamie Lovemark|
|10||11:00 a.m.||Jhonattan Vegas, Smylie Kaufman, Phil Mickelson|
|1||11:11 a.m.||Patrick Reed, Jason Day, David Hearn|
|10||11:11 a.m.||Sean O'Hair, Emiliano Grillo, Billy Horschel|
|1||11:22 a.m.||Russell Knox, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth|
|10||11:22 a.m.||Vaughn Taylor, Zach Johnson, Billy Hurley III|
|1||11:33 a.m.||Brooks Koepka, Charley Hoffman, William McGirt|
|10||11:33 a.m.||Brendan Steele, Justin Thomas, Luke Donald|
|1||11:44 a.m.||Louis Oosthuizen, Harris English, Graeme McDowell|
|10||11:44 a.m.||Kevin Streelman, Aaron Baddeley, Scott Piercy|
|1||11:55 a.m.||Jim Herman, Charl Schwartzel, James Hahn|
|10||11:55 a.m.||Branden Grace, Kevin Kisner, Brandt Snedeker|
|1||12:06 p.m.||Hideki Matsuyama, Si Woo Kim, Jason Dufner|
|10||12:06 p.m.||Jimmy Walker, Justin Rose, Kyle Reifers|
|1||12:17 p.m.||Adam Scott, Fabian Gomez, Jason Kokrak|
|10||12:17 p.m.||Brian Stuard, Bill Haas, Gary Woodland|
|1||12:28 p.m.||Brian Harman, Daniel Berger, Bubba Watson|
|10||12:28 p.m.||Hudson Swafford, David Lingmerth, Daniel Summerhays|
|1||12:39 p.m.||Matt Kuchar, Kevin Na, Sergio Garcia|
|10||12:39 p.m.||Rickie Fowler, Kevin Chappell, Tony Finau|
|1||12:50 p.m.||J.B. Holmes, Chris Kirk, Ryan Palmer|
|10||12:50 p.m.||Ryan Moore, Ben Martin, Marc Leishman|
|1||1:01 p.m.||Roberto Castro, Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey|
Saturday's third-round coverage
12 to 3:30 p.m. -- NBC
3:30 to 6 p.m. -- Golf Channel
7 to 10 p.m. -- Golf Channel (replay)
8:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured groups stream
12 to 6 p.m. -- Golf Channel/NBC Sports LiveExtra simulcast stream
1 to 6 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)