2024 WM Phoenix Open Leaderboard, Scores: Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas Struggle Round 2 Underway

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The only defense at TPC Scottsdale on Friday came in the form of muddy walks from hole to hole and heckles from overserved patrons. White shoes were scrapped as often as middle irons and golf balls, but the added headache did nothing to slow down players like Scottie Scheffler and Justin Thomas. Well equipped to take on the Scottsdale faithful and whatever conditions the weekend brings, the duo will look to challenge Andy Novak and Nick Taylor, the two leading 12 under with Round 2 postponed due to darkness.

The day started with half the field finishing their first lap and Taylor running wild. Signing for an 11-under 60, the Canadian joined the long list of golfers who have recently dabbled, and in some cases succeeded, in carding a sub-60 round. Factor in this tournament a season ago – when he was in the final group with Scheffler and Jon Rahm – Taylor’s effort matched the course record. The fairytale soon became an afterthought as Novak’s quality continued with Scheffler and Thomas entering the clubhouse at 8 under after two brilliant rounds.

After struggling with his swing early, Scheffler found his groove with an unlikely birdie on his first par-4 14th. He clearly didn’t deal with his best stuff, the world No. 1 than the world No. Signing for a 3-under 68, Scheffler experienced a quick turnaround and parlayed this move into a bogey-free 5-under 66 in Round 2. However, the Texan believes there is more room for improvement.

“I’m not really going to think too much about it,” Scheffler said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, planning and taking advantage of the opportunities I have. In the last two days, I didn’t play the back nine as well as I would have liked. I didn’t play. I really took advantage of some of the holes back there, so I’m looking to improve on that in the next couple of days.”

Scheffler is joined at 8 under by two Americans in Thomas and Cameron Young. Playing alongside each other the first two days, Thomas and Young built on the other’s good play to stay within reach of the leaders. They will now sit back, kick their feet up and relax as Round 2 heads into Saturday with 10 groups still trying to escape.

The leaders

1. Andrew Novak, Nick Taylor (-12)

Novak’s position at the top of the leaderboard is – to put it bluntly – surprising. Ranked outside the top 300 in the Official World Golf Ranking and without a top 20 finish since June, the 28-year-old has struggled to get his game together for four days after each other Even two days have been a problem for the right-hander in recent weeks as he enters this tournament without a paycheck collected this season. Yet, here he sits, hitting the ball (fourth place in strokes included) and sitting ahead of everyone else outside of Taylor.

“I came in with the right mindset, just take it,” Novak said. “You can’t be mad at people. It’s going to happen. I grew up playing other sports, and I always grew up thinking I was going to play football or basketball, and then you get the fans screaming to you, that’s so much fun. We have great fans everywhere, but this is different. I was really excited to play my first one and experience this because it’s really fun.”

Meanwhile, Novak’s co-leader Taylor failed to follow up another good round, but has nevertheless done enough to sit in a tie for pole position through two rounds. Mac Taylor had several unusual shots on the greens in his first round and was about to return to earth. Putter rebound shouldn’t be a concern in Round 2, but ball-striking numbers also made an impact and should be something to watch moving forward.

Other contestants

3. Maverick McNealy (-10)
4. Doug Ghim (-9)
T5. Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Cameron Young, Ryan Fox (-8)
T9. Daniel Berger, Sam Burns, Kurt Kitayama, Charley Hoffman, Jonathan Vegas (-7)

Thomas was the first to admit that his bad golf in 2023 was very bad and that his good was very good. Without his “A” game on Saturday, Thomas turned another corner of his comeback tour by effectively navigating TPC Scottsdale and signing for rounds of 69-65. The exciting part of the two-time major champion’s day was that his struggles came in a historic range of strength. Not tiring with the pieces and missing out on several scoring opportunities with a piece in hand, the 30-year-old made up for it with a great effort in the short game. If this is matched with better play in scoring fields over the weekend, Thomas should like his chances of securing a late title in Scottsdale.

“I feel like I got around it pretty well,” Thomas said. “I don’t feel like I was very sharp today. … This afternoon [I] I drove the ball well and he made putts, which is nice. I felt like I missed a lot of opportunities this morning. I didn’t feel good about it. I tried to make do with the 25 minutes or whatever between rounds to get a little something. But yeah, I had some pieces that I felt really bad to be honest, and I just had a couple nice – I made some nice putts when I had to, I had some good saves. Yeah, it helps to have a good tea time, too, this week.”

Were there too many cooks in the kitchen?

The collection of clothing at the Phoenix Open is as eclectic as it gets. Some dress to the nines, while others wear bachelor party shirts to celebrate a friend. There is a lot in between, and in another category well outside of this range, there are the super fans of Min Woo Lee who took over TPC Scottsdale. Dressed in Lululemon as their Australian hero while rocking red “let him cook” chef hats, this possé of men waded through the mud to support Lee. While on the surface it seemed like good fun, it was a corporate marketing ploy (albeit an effective one at the time).

2024 WM Phoenix Open update and selection opportunity

  • Scottie Scheffler: 4-1
  • Nick Taylor: 11/2
  • Justin Thomas: 7-1
  • Sahith Theegala: 7-1
  • Andrew Novak: 12-1
  • Cameron Young: 14-1
  • Doug Ghim: 20-1
  • Sam Burns: 20-1
  • Maverick McNealy: 20-1

It’s another strange situation as players like Theegala (-6) and Jordan Spieth (-3) have yet to get into the meat of their second round. Spieth is the more interesting of the two as he faces a 7-foot par attempt on the par-5 3rd when play resumes on Saturday. If he turns, he could start to run downhill and post a score like Scheffler and Thomas did on Friday making his 30-1 price a bargain deal.

Patrick McDonald and Greg DuCharme discuss Day 2 at the WM Phoenix Open. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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