Thomas and Watson shoot bogey-free rounds at The Players despite windy conditions

By Sports Desk March 12, 2022

Defending champion Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson managed to shoot bogey-free rounds on Saturday at The Players Championship, despite heavy winds.

The duo became the 36-hole clubhouse leaders at three under, but Tommy Fleetwood and Tom Hoge remained at the top of the leaderboard.

Fleetwood only played three holes of his second round on Saturday while Hoge did not even start his before bad light suspended the day's action again.

Stormy weather in the Florida region in the past few days lead to many competitors only finishing their openings rounds on Saturday.

Further weather disruption meant play did not start until midday local time, with 47 players finally completing their opening rounds in the first two hours.

Fleetwood remained at six over par after recording a birdie and a bogey in his three holes, level with Hoge and one shot ahead of Joaquin Niemann, Keith Mitchell and Anirban Lahiri, all tied for third at five under.

Thomas, who won last year's event, carded a three-under 69 to move up to joint-15th place after an even par 72 in his first round, while Watson played himself back into contention with the best second-round score so far of 68 to match Thomas overall on three under.

Dustin Johnson shot 73 in his second round to move to two under, tied for 23rd, while last year's runner-up Lee Westwood will miss the cut after a dismal round of 80 saw him nine over after two rounds.

Brooks Koepka had an even worse day, carding 81 to also sit at nine over, while Rory McIlroy was able to finally complete his first round for 73, before going back out and hitting the same score again, including a double-bogey at the seventh, to leave himself two over.

The par-three 17th was proving particularly tricky in the high winds, with 29 balls finding the water on Saturday, while just four had suffered the same fate in the previous two days. McIlroy said afterwards: "Basically, the green's a big massive dartboard, and you're like, just hit it anywhere on there."

Weather permitting, play is due to resume at TPC Sawgrass on Sunday at 8:15am local time.

Related items

  • McIlroy set for break after toughest day of career in US Open collapse McIlroy set for break after toughest day of career in US Open collapse

    Rory McIlroy intends to take a break from golf after his US Open collapse as the Northern Irishman bemoaned the toughest day of his career following further major disappointment at Pinehurst.

    The four-time major champion has not triumphed in one of golf's top events since 2014 at the PGA Championship.

    McIlroy came within touching distance of ending that decade-long wait on Sunday but fell short in disappointing circumstances as Bryson DeChambeau claimed the US Open title by a shot in North Carolina.

    The 35-year-old McIlroy managed to bogey three of his final four holes in the last round at Pinehurst's No.2 course, including a woeful miss from a short putting distance on the 18th.

    DeChambeau was left to save par with an impressive up-and-down from the near-side bunker, leaving McIlroy to rue another missed opportunity on the major stage.

    "Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I've had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer," McIlroy wrote on social media.

    "Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Bryson. He is a worthy champion and exactly what professional golf needs right now. I think we can all agree on that.

    "As I reflect on my week, I'll rue a few things over the course of the tournament, mostly the two missed putts on 16 and 18 on the final day.

    "But, as I always try to do, I'll look at the positives of the week that far outweigh the negatives. As I said at the start of the tournament, I feel closer to winning my next major championship than I ever have.

    "The one word that I would describe my career as is resilient. I've shown my resilience over and over again in the last 17 years and I will again."

    McIlroy was expected to play in this week's Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

    However, the world number two confirmed he will not feature as McIlroy prepares for a break after suffering a brutal blow to his major hopes.

    "I'm going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything and build myself back up for my defence of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon," he concluded.

    The Scottish Open does not start until July 11, leaving McIlroy with almost a month to recover from this setback.

  • DeChambeau excited for more McIlroy battles following U.S. Open glory DeChambeau excited for more McIlroy battles following U.S. Open glory

    Bryson DeChambeau is looking forward to more final-round battles with Rory McIlroy following his second U.S. Open triumph at Pinehurst on Sunday. 

    DeChambeau headed into the final round in North Carolina with a three-shot lead over the field, but soon found himself two behind the Northern Irishman three holes into the back nine. 

    A birdie at the 13th regained the American's composure, with McIlroy making bogey in three of the last four holes, including an agonising miss on18 to hand DeChambeau the victory. 

    The fifth major title continues to elude McIlroy, last winning at the 2014 PGA Championship, but DeChambeau labelled the world number two as one of the best to play the game and is excited for future tussles on the golf course. 

    "Rory is one of the best to ever play," DeChambeau said. "Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. I'd love to have a lot more battles with him.

    "I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game of golf... to be honest, when he was climbing up the leaderboard, I was like, 'Uh-oh', but luckily things went my way today.

    "For him to miss that putt [on the 18th], I'd never wish it on anybody.

    "I'm sure it will fuel Rory's fire even more. He's a strong-minded individual. He'll win multiple more major championships, there's no doubt."

    McIlroy's missed putt at 18 opened the door for DeChambeau to capitalise, but a wayward drive left him hunched under a tree, forcing him to punch out to a greenside bunker to set up a nervy finish. 

    However, the American would produce a moment of magic to place the ball within four feet of the hole, going on to say it was the shot of his life. 

    "That bunker shot was the shot of my life," DeChambeau reflected.

    "I knew where Rory was. After my tee shot, I was up there going, 'Man, if he makes par, I don't know how I'm going to beat him'. I just really didn't know.

    "Then I heard the moans. It was like a shot of adrenaline got in me. I said, 'Okay, you can do this'. I'm so happy I got that shot up-and-down."

  • McIlroy's U.S. Open misses will haunt him for the rest of his life, says Faldo McIlroy's U.S. Open misses will haunt him for the rest of his life, says Faldo

    Rory McIlroy's shocking misses at the U.S. Open could haunt him for the rest of his career, believes six-time major champion Nick Faldo.

    McIlroy looked to be in pole position to end his 10-year major drought on the final day of play at Pinehurst on Sunday, as four birdies in a five-hole stretch gave him a two-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau.

    However, things unravelled for the Northern Irishman in spectacular fashion, as he missed a putt from less than three yards to save par on the 15th.

    Despite following that up with a bogey on the 16th, McIlroy still shared the lead with DeChambeau as he approached the final hole.

    He then missed another four-foot putt to hand the initiative to DeChambeau, who produced a brilliant bunker shot then made no mistake for his own close-range par, clinching his second major title by a single shot.

    McIlroy left Pinehurst without speaking to the media as DeChambeau celebrated his second U.S. Open crown in the last five editions, and Faldo believes he may never fully get over his misses.

    "That's going to haunt Rory for the rest of his life, those two misses," Faldo said in his role of co-commentator for Sky Sports.

    "It was an unbelievable finish. That was a four of all fours to finish from Bryson and the celebration of all celebrations! 

    "Rory will be broken-hearted, so I feel for him. He's going to be gutted, absolutely gutted."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.