Projecting Friday’s Cutline at the 2023 PLAYERS Championship. Morikawa and Scheffler in contention. Is Rory in danger of missing the weekend?
Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, and Viktor Hovland are just a few of the big names lurking near the top of the leaderboard at this year’s Players Championship after Thursday’s action came to a halt.
But unlike some of the previous elevated events on the PGA Tour over the past couple of months, there is a good mix of players who are looking to announce their presence on golf’s biggest stage alongside the elite of the game.
Chad Ramey, a 30-year-old PGA Tour pro with two career wins, somewhat surprisingly finds himself on the top of the leaderboard with all but just the last few shots of the first round still to be hit at this year’s Players Championship.
Ramey, who has missed his last three cuts on Tour coming into this week, leads the way after a fantastic opening round 64. The Mississippi native currently holds a one-shot advantage over 2021 ‘Champion Golfer of the Year’, Collin Morikawa.
Canadian, Taylor Pendrith, was another one of the pleasant surprises to emerge after the first day of play at TPC Sawgrass. Pendrith opened with a Thursday-67 and finds himself currently three off the pace.
It was at the Players Championship last year that Taylor suffered a bizarre rib fracture while he was warming up prior to his round which forced him out of action for nearly four months.
Meanwhile, Scottie Scheffler, who could potentially return to the top of the world rankings with a win this week, sits four shots adrift after opening with a 68. He placed himself in prime position heading into Friday after closing out his first round with three birdies over a four-hole stretch.
Week to end early for Rory McIlroy at the Players Championship?
The 2019 Players champion finds himself in another difficult position this week after a challenging start to his 2023 Players Championship campaign.
Rory McIlroy reportedly made a change with his driver the week of the Genesis Invitational, and while he showed no rust with the new club in his bag at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, it was an area that the Northern Irishman struggled greatly in during Thursday’s round at the Players Championship.
Rory managed to hit just seven fairways in regulation during his opening round on the way to a first round-76. The four-over par round on Thursday was McIlroy’s highest opening round tally since the 2021 Masters per Justin Ray on Twitter.
The wind is expected to pick up some on Friday, though, McIlroy will likely need another vintage performance if he is to be around for the weekend at this year’s Players Championship.
Exactly how low the Northern Irishman will need to go in order to find himself on the right side of the cutline come Friday evening remains to be seen.
2023 Players Championship: Friday’s Projected Cutline
Data Golf has this week’s probable cutline currently at E par (38.5%) with the projected cut more likely to regress to +1 (34.3%) on Friday rather than shift to -1 (14.6%).
TPC Sawgrass played on average +0.76 strokes over par on Thursday and it is largely expected that course setup and weather conditions will ramp up the difficulty even more on Friday.
As things currently stand, Rory McIlroy would need to record a second-round score of no worse than 68 in order to be around for Saturday and Sunday at TPC Sawgrass.
Some of the more notable names who would currently miss out on playing the weekend at the projected cutline include, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Hideki Matsuyama, Sungjae Im, Rory McIlroy, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Shane Lowry.
Friday’s second-round action gets underway at 6:50 a.m. EST on ESPN+