Content provided by Rotoworld Player News - Friday, February 23rd, 2018

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Defender Fowler among notable MCs at Honda 02-23-2018
Rickie Fowler
Defending champion and World No. 7 Rickie Fowler stumbled to a 6-over-par 36-40=76 in the second round of The Honda Classic and at 7-over 71-76=147, missed the cut by two shots. A total of 76 players from a field of 144 made the cut of 5-over 145, 18, T59 on the number. Fowler, a pre-tourney 9/1 fave outright, misses his second cut of the season in five events, second in his last three starts (Farmers). After missing his first two cuts at the Honda in 2010 and 2011, he had cashed in six straight, and today's 76 matched his worst round at PGA National (2011/R1). The Jupiter, Florida, resident is in the published field at next week's WGC-Mexico. He totaled 16 (of 28) fairways and 21 greens in regulation, overshadowing four birdies with nine bogeys and a double, and ranked 125th in SG: Putting (-2.903). Other notable early exits include: 146- Patrick Reed; Tyrrell Hatton .. 147- Ryan Palmer; Graeme McDowell; Brandt Snedeker .. 148- Billy Horschel; Charles Howell III .. 149- Russell Knox; Kevin Kisner .. 152- Chesson Hadley; Patton Kizzire.
C. Villegas rockets up the board in Round 2 02-23-2018
Camilo Villegas
Camilo Villegas soared up the leaderboard in round two of The Honda Classic, piecing together a 3-under-par 33-34=67, good for the second-best round of the day, climbing across the cut line with a two-day tally of 3-over 143. Villegas opened his day with four straight birdie looks from inside 20 feet. He converted the last one, knocking in a 14'2" birdie at the fourth hole. The steady striking continued throughout the round, gaining 2.123 strokes on approach today, an improvement of 4.234 strokes over R1. While the irons were dialed in, it was all set up by his 13-of-14 fairways hit. The Colombian improved nine shots, round-over-round and will now get two more tee times at PGA National's Champion Course. It will be tough to replicate the precision shown today, but this is certainly a promising sign for Villegas' 2018 outlook.
Local Lovemark snags 36-hole Honda co-lead 02-23-2018
Jamie Lovemark
Jamie Lovemark soared up the leaderboard with a 1-under-par 33-36=69 during round two of The Honda Classic, joining Luke List with a share of the 36-hole lead on 3-under 137, his first career 36-hole lead/co-lead on the PGA TOUR. The Jupiter, Florida resident is one of the longest hitters on TOUR but he's taking the recommended route here at PGA National, opting for less-than-driver quite frequently. Today, he blasted just one drive over 285 yards. The lack of drivers has yielded more fairways, splitting 11 (of 14) today en route to 12 greens in regulation. That was good for +1.575 strokes approaching-the-green (+3.148 SG:APP in R1). Lovemark does not appear fazed by these difficult winds which is a good sign for the weekend as the forecast doesn't change much over the next two days. Joining Luke List as 36-hole co-leaders, this will be Lovemark's first career 36-hole lead/co-lead on the PGA TOUR.
Fleetwood right in the mix thru two rounds 02-23-2018
Tommy Fleetwood
Tommy Fleetwood flashed his wind aptitude during round two of The Honda Classic, styling a 2-under-par 33-35=68 to give himself a seat inside the top 5 on 2-under 138. The Englishman put on a stripe show today, striping 10 (of 14) fairways en route to 11 greens in regulation. He ranks inside the top 30 in both of those categories for the week. That steady striking set up plenty of good looks from inside 15 feet. He actually missed three of those chances today, but it's tough to be picky when you consider the mediocre conditions of the greens and wind, both aspects that make the putting tougher this week. While many golfers are losing the battle with The Bear Trap, Fleetwood has recorded five pars and one bogey through the first two rounds. That is good for +1.89 strokes over the field. The Southport native will be hoping the conditions remain the same over the weekend (windy and firm).
Overnight co-leader Noren dips with R2 75 02-23-2018
Alexander Noren
Overnight co-leader and World No. 16 Alex Noren back-pedaled with a 5-over-par 39-36=75 in the second round of The Honda Classic, falling 13 places on the live leaderboard to T14 on 1-over 141, four shy of 36-hole co-leaders Luke List and Jamie Lovemark. The 35-year-old actually navigated the Bear Trap in 1-under, highlighted by a hole-out birdie-2 from a greenside bunker at 15 from 66'8" away. His trouble came much earlier, playing his first 14 holes in 6-over. The first-time member though not a rookie had just one other birdie at the par-4 eighth (from 9'9"), outbalanced by five bogeys and double bogey-6 at 6 after putting his second into the water. He landed nine (of 14) fairways and mustered eight greens in regulation, gaining 0.638 strokes off-the-tee but losing 0.909 approaching-the-green. The Oklahoma State alum registered 1.875 putts per GIR and -1.371 SG: Putting, needing 30 total putts.
Tiger Woods roars into contention @ the Honda 02-23-2018
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods moved up seven spots on the live leaderboard after recording a 1-over-par 34-37=71 during round two of The Honda Classic, arriving at the midpoint on 1-over 141 which places him in a share of 14th place, just four strokes off the leader Luke List. Woods showed a lot of promise in round one and it was more of the same today. He traded two birdies with one bogey over the first 10 holes. He was staring down a bogey at the par-4 11th but showcased his signature fist pump after sinking a clutch 12'8" par-saver. The 42-year-old was sitting inside the top 10 at that point but The Bear Trap won the battle with Woods today. Stepping on the 15th tee box he rinsed his tee ball which led to a double-bogey 5. On the following hole, he got too aggressive on his par putt and swallowed a bogey. In typical Tiger fashion, he bounced back nicely at the following hole, stiffing his tee ball to 12 feet before rolling it in for a birdie. While his off-the-tee game is still a bit rusty he is gaining 5.153 strokes from fairway to flag (approach, around-the-green, and putting). This is a tremendous start for Woods but he can't afford to let his foot off the gas because this week's course can sneak up and bite you quickly.
Top-ranked Thomas R2 birdie-less 72 at Honda 02-23-2018
Justin Thomas
Top-ranked and World No. 4 Justin Thomas sleepwalked to a birdie-less 2-over-par 35-37=72 in the second round of The Honda Classic, dropping four spots on the live leaderboard to T7 on 1-under 139, two back of 36-hole clubhouse leader Luke List. The 24-year-old's lone blemish, a double bogey-6 at 16, was a 4-putt from 74'11". He surrounded that with 17 pars on five (of 14) fairways and 12 greens in regulation, gaining 1.997 strokes approaching-the-green and 1.589 tee-to-green. The reigning FedExCup champ went a perfect 6-for-6 in scrambling, but lost 0.727 strokes around-the-green. He recorded a dismal 2.167 putts per GIR, was T57 in Proximity to Hole at 38'3", and posted -0.399 SG: Putting, needing 32 total putts.
Berger cards a 2-over 72 in R2 of the Honda 02-23-2018
Daniel Berger
Daniel Berger settled for a 2-over-par 34-38=72 during round two of The Honda Classic, dropping four spots on the board, down to a share of seventh place with a two-day tally of 1-under 139. The Florida State product used steady striking and a hot putter on Thursday to record one (of just two) bogey-free rounds. He cooled off today, not setting up many reasonable scoring chances while facing the same windy conditions at PGA National. On top of the lack of scoring chances, he also missed a pair of par-savers from inside six feet. A 2-over 72 wouldn't be noteworthy most weeks, but today it actually gained more than a shot over the field average which currently sits at 73.19 for the day. Berger will enter the weekend just two off the lead, still searching for his third career PGA TOUR title.
Piercy striking it well thru 36 Honda holes 02-23-2018
Scott Piercy
Scott Piercy steadied an even-par 34-36=70 during round two of The Honda Classic, climbing nearly 10 spots up the live leaderboard into a share of 13th place at the moment, sitting on even-par 140 after 36 holes. Piercy has been active this week, trading nine birdies (currently T1 in the field) with nine bogeys. Ball-striking has been the name of the game for the Las Vegas resident, striping 19 (of 28) fairways on the week en route to 24 greens in regulation, which ranks T12 in the field right now. The lone weak spot is his putter, losing 1.922 strokes putting on the week. If Piercy continues this ball-striking and also figures out the greens, he'll be right in the mix come Sunday. Gamers should strongly consider Piercy as a DFS Weekend Slate option.
Past champ Sabbatini opens Honda in 69-69 02-23-2018
Rory Sabbatini
Past champ and World No. 311 Rory Sabbatini crafted a 1-under-par 34-35=69 in the second round of The Honda Classic to reach 2-under 138, up seven spots on the live leaderboard to T5, one adrift of early clubhouse leader Luke List. The Arizona product is making his 11th appearance with four prior top 25s among seven cashes and missed cuts in his last two tries (2016, 2017). He owns two top 10s, including a T9 in 2004 (CC at Mirasol) and a win in 2011 in his first visit to PGA National. The South African's victory in 2011 (as 54-hole leader) is his most recent of six PGA TOUR titles. He kicked off this week with a four-birdie three-bogey 69 and carded another 69 with three circles against two squares on nine (of 14) fairways and 13 greens in regulation. The 41-year-old registered 1.769 putts per GIR and 1.576 SG: Putting with 29 total putts.
Oosthuizen keeps his name in the mix thru 36 02-23-2018
Louis Oosthuizen
Local resident Louis Oosthuizen settled for a 2-under-par 37-35=72 during the second round of The Honda Classic, giving him a two-day tally of 1-under 139, still good for a seat inside the top 10. Oosthuizen finished with a fury on day one but couldn't build on that momentum today. He missed a pair of scoring chances from inside 10 feet on his opening four holes, swallowed a pair of bogeys before the turn, before finally circling a birdie at the par-4 12th. It was converted from 22'2" while his second birdie came two holes later from just 2'2", a day full of "2s". While a round of 2-over 72 doesn't sound great on paper, the current field average is 73.42 meaning Oosthuizen still beat the field by more than one stroke today. After his opening round he said this, "When I'm here, I play almost every day, so it feels the same thing. It's just a few more people walking with and watching you." That local knowledge could pay off over the weekend, making him an appealing option for DFS Weekend Slates.
Past champ Henley opens Honda with 68-70 02-23-2018
Russell Henley
Past champ and World No. 55 Russell Henley pieced together an even-par 33-37=70 in the second round of The Honda Classic to post 2-under 138, up three spots on the live leaderboard to T5, one shy of early clubhouse leader Luke List. The Georgia alum was solo 2nd thru 36 holes (on 10-under) when he won here in 2014, his second (of three) TOUR titles. He raced out today with three straight circles at holes 1-3, each from between 11 and 28 feet, but then played his final 15 holes in 3-over, overshadowing a walk-off birdie-4 (from 28 inches) with bogey-5s at 4 (3-putt from 23'10") and 12, and double bogey-5 at 17 (tee ball in the water). The 28-year-old striped 12 (of 14) fairways and hit 12 greens in regulation, recording 1.177 SG: Off-the-Tee but -0.558 SG: Approach and -0.951 SG: Around-the-Green. He posted 1.750 putts per GIR and 1.918 SG: Putting with 28 total putts.
Pieters laps the field by 3+ shots in Round 2 02-23-2018
Thomas Pieters
Thomas Pieters raced his way around PGA National's Champion Course in round two of The Honda Classic, smoothing an even-par 36-34=70 to reach 1-under 139 at the midpoint, good for a current share of 11th place with a very good chance to crack the top 10 before day's end. The powerful Belgian went off at 6:45 a.m. local time this morning alongside Luke List (their third, Danny Lee WD'd during R1). With nobody in front of them, they were able to cash in on the back nine before the heavy winds arrived. Starting on the 10th tee, he traded three birdies with a bogey before giving that one shot back on his way into the clubhouse. The early scoring average on the back nine is +2.52 so Pieters' score of 1-under 34 beats the field average by 3.52 strokes. Pieters piercing ball flight looks great in the wind, but he'll need to hold on for two more rounds. World No. 42 has three worldwide wins since the start of 2015 but he's still searching for his first PGA TOUR victory, making his 22nd start this week.
Overnight co-leader Simpson dips w/ R2 72 02-23-2018
Webb Simpson
Overnight co-leader and World No. 45 Webb Simpson birdied his final hole to salvage a 2-over-par 35-37=72 in the second round of The Honda Classic, dropping four places on the live leaderboard to T5 on 2-under 138, one back of early clubhouse leader Luke List. The 32-year-old circled birdie-3s on his first (10th hole) and his last, from 13'10" and 7'6", respectively. In between, he squared bogeys at 15 and 2, and ate double bogey-7 at 18 after hitting his third into the water. The Wake Forest alum found nine (of 14) fairways and mustered eight greens in regulation, losing 2.456 strokes approaching-the-green but gaining 1.204 around-the-green. He posted 1.750 putts per GIR and 1.185 SG: Putting with 26 total putts.
Luke List sets a 36-hole target at the Honda 02-23-2018
Luke List
Battling blustery conditions, Luke List won the battle with PGA National's Champion Course during round two of The Honda Classic, sprinting toward a 4-under-par 34-32=66 to reach 3-under 137 on the week, good for the early clubhouse lead with play still in progress. Going off in a twosome alongside Thomas Pieters, the duo was able to race their way around PGA National and play much of the course before the heavy winds arrived. Other than a good tee time, List racked up this score with strong ball-striking, landing 13 greens in regulation, gaining 2.804 strokes approaching-the-green. That included a 146-yard approach that landed inside two feet, a 205-yard tee shot that landed inside five feet, and a 279-yard approach that landed inside six feet. If this lead holds then it will go in the books as his third career 36-hole lead/co-lead on TOUR, with the latest coming this fall at THE CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES. He went on to finish T5 in that event. With the course currently playing 3.33 strokes over-par, this should easily beat the field average by more than seven shots by day's end. One of the strongest rounds from anyone this year.
Suri among notables to miss the cut in Qatar 02-23-2018
Julian Suri
Julia Suri fired an impressive bogey-free 5-under-par 32-35=67 in round two of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters but his 36-hole total of 3-under 141 was a shot outside the cut line. The American had much work to do after his opening 74 at Doha GC and nearly played himself into the weekend after a round featuring five birdies and 13 pars. Four of those came on his opening nine, meaning he needed another two coming home but Suri could only find one more and four closing pars meant the axe fell. Make a mental note for future starts, though, that he can score well on this course. Others to miss the cut of 4-under 140 included: 141- Jordan Smith, Shubhankar Sharma, Matthew Southgate ... 142- Thorbjorn Olesen, Richie Ramsay ... 143- Jeunghun Wang (defending champion).
Coetzee sets up weekend title shot in Qatar 02-23-2018
Course horse George Coetzee showed his liking for Doha GC once more, blasting a 6-under-par 34-32=66 in Friday's second round at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters to jump 34 spots up the leaderboard to tied sixth after 36 holes. At 9-under 135, the South African is just two shots back from leader Adrian Otaegui. Coetzee had a run of 2-5-12-7 at this venue from 2013 to 2016 and today's 66, his third lowest round in Qatar, sets up him for another big finish. An opening pair of birdies set the three-time European Tour winner on his way and he bounced back from a bogey at 6 with another gain at 7. Coming home, he ticked 12, 13, 16 and 18 to climb into the top 10.
Gallacher steps up title challenge at Qatar 02-23-2018
Stephen Gallacher
Stephen Gallacher continued his recent upturn in form by thrashing a 6-under-par 33-33=66 in round two of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, reaching 10-under par 134 at the midpoint and in a tie for second place. It's a bunched leaderboard after 36 holes in Qatar but the Scot is in the thick of it after his afternoon lap at Doha GC left him just a shot behind leader Adrian Otaegui. Gallacher registered his first top 10 for over a year with T9 in Oman last week and he's now on track for another win in the Middle East having previously scored back-to-back victories in the Dubai Desert Classic in 2013 and 2014. Today, the former Ryder Cup star opened with a birdie at the par-5 1st and added red circles on 4 and 9. He followed that with three more gains coming home, two of those on par 3s (13 and 17).
Havret flawless again in Qatar; one shot back 02-23-2018
Gregory Havret
Joint-R1 leader Gregory Havret is bogey free after 36 holes of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, a 3-under-par 34-35=69 in Friday's second lap at Doha GC taking him to 10-under 134 at the midpoint, currently good enough for T2 on the live leaderboard with play almost finished. That's just a single swing back from leader Adrian Otaegui. Havret hit seven birdies in his opening 65 and continued the red count with gains at 12 and 16 today after he'd teed off from the 10th. He banked another at No. 1 and looked in position to reach top spot and even open up some daylight. However, the Frenchman couldn't make any further progress, riding the par train all the way home. Havret's best from 16 previous visits to Doha GC is T8 so he definitely has that in his sights this weekend. The ultimate aim, though, is to find a first European Tour win since the 2008 Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Pepperell maintains title challenge in Qatar 02-23-2018
Eddie Pepperell
Eddie Pepperell struggled early but got going on the back nine and returned a 3-under-par 37-32=69 to reach 10-under 134 after two rounds of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, landing just a shot back from solo leader Adrian Otaegui and in a tie for second with Erik Van Rooyen and Gregory Havret. The Englishman found birdies (eight of them) easy to find in his opening 65 but drew a blank on the first nine holes at Doha GC today. Indeed, his only deviation from par was a bogey-5 at No. 6. He needed a spark and found one. Pepperell took just three swishes at the 10th to record eagle and then turned a modest day into a decent one with late birdies at 16 and 18 for the second day running. He already has a top four in this event (2015) and his prowess in windy, links conditions suggests he has a big chance of landing his first European Tour win this weekend.
O. Fisher joins 36-hole lead at Qatar Masters 02-23-2018
With a walk-off birdie at 18, Oliver Fisher completed a 3-under-par 35-34=69 in round two of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and joined American Sean Crocker in a tie for the clubhouse lead on 9-under 135. That's a solid follow-up from the Englishman, who opened up with a 66 to pave the way for a good week and perhaps beat the T10 he scored in this event three years ago. Fisher played Doha GC's front nine in just 31 yesterday but was quieter on that same stretch today with just two birdies (1 and 8) against a single bogey at 3. He had to keep patient coming home and started the back nine with six straight pars but the 29-year-old cashed in on the obvious birdie opportunities at 16 and 18 to join Crocker at the top.