The conditions are pristine at the Northern Trust Open, but Riviera Country Club is proving to be a formidable foe this week in Southern California. Most of the Professional golfers will tell you however, with warm, dry conditions, this place can be a nightmare. Add just a little bit of wind, and it can almost become unplayable. The story this weekend is not as much about who will make the cut, but who won’t.
As of Saturday morning, the second round has not been completed at this point, but the projected cut is at one over par. With no one reaching double digits by Friday afternoon it should set up a wild weekend in Pacific Palisaides.
HP Byron Nelson Champ, Sang Moon Bae has a one-shot lead as play was suspended again on Friday evening for darkness. Bae, who is from South Korea fired a -5 under par 66 on Friday for the clubhouse lead. He carried a share of the weekend lead into Saturday last year, but shot himself out of contention with a 76 on Saturday.
Aaron Baddeley who has had a spotty PGA career turned in one of the low rounds on Friday, and his -6 under par 65 was good for a second place tie with Robert Garrigus. Baddeley, who is Australian, but was born in New Hampshire, and lives in Scottsdale hasn’t won since the 2011 Northern Trust Open.
“It’s a strong course, especially when it’s dry and firm like it is,” Baddeley said. “If you miss it out of position, it’s really hard to get the ball up-and-down. Today was good, because I made a couple good saves but coming in, I had some good looks and made them.”
Among the big names who will be on their way home on Saturday are Two-time winner of this event, and one of the sentimental favorites, Fred Couples, and 2013 two-time winner, Matt Kuchar. The Presidents Cup Captain shot a pair of one over 72′s, and looks to be missing the cut with a two over total.
Couples battled a small cut on his left thumb, which continued to get worse during the competition. Everyone knows the 54 year-old super-star has never used a glove throughout his career, and it appeared to been his down-fall on Friday.
Asked if it bothered him, he said, “Yeah. I couldn’t hit the ball.” Couples made his 32nd appearance in this tournament, but at 2-over 144 was certain to miss the cut.
The big surprise this week is Matt Kuchar. Kuchar was only able to make two birdies in two days, and his 7 over par total will not make any cut on the PGA Tour. The 2013 Accenture Match Play, and Memorial Champion had no success on the greens. I think the jar would have to been the size of a milk bucket for him to make a putt.
Although he hit just of 55% of his Greens-in-Regulation(GIR), his strokes gained putting was deep in negative numbers. He averaged 1.9 putts per green for two days, and that won’t get it done on the PGA Tour.
The Kuch failed to qualify for the weekend for the first time since the 2012 PGA Championship. His streak of 30 straight cuts was the longest active on TOUR, though still behind the record 142 by Tiger Woods.
You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47 and in the Golf Community at Google+