What a difference a day and a format make.
After Thursday's birdie brigade in the best-ball round at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Friday's alternate shot format produced much, much higher scores. Zero teams shot over par yesterday—in best-ball, both team members play their own ball then choose the better score between the two—while roughly half the teams on Friday posted a score north of 72.
The team of Michael Kim and Andrew Putnam followed up a 10-under 62 on Thursday with a solid three-under alternate-shot 69 to post 13 under for the first two days. They'll take a one-shot lead over Kevin Kisner and Soctt Brown, who lost in a playoff in this event last year. The lowest round of the day belonged to Matt Kuchar and Bubba Watson, who combined for a five-under 67 and celebrated birdies by slapping each other in the face.
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On a less celebratory note, alternate shot always leads to a ton of awkward silences and "I'm sorry's." For example, Jordan Spieth found the water on 17 and 18 which led to double-bogeys on both holes for him and partner Ryan Palmer. They missed the cut by one shot, and while Palmer would never say so, Spieth will be quick to tell you that he's to blame for that.
Here are three quick thoughts after Friday's round.
Golf is so beautifully unpredictable
Four of the top five players and 18 of the top 30 in the world rankings are in the field this week. There are three teams that feature two top-25 players: Bubba Watson/Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson. Your leading team of Kim and Putnam are ranked 390th and 266th, respectively. We're only halfway home and there's a good chance one of the higher-ranked teams pulls this out, but this just goes to show the depth and unpredictability of the modern PGA Tour.
A number of really good teams will miss the cut
In related news, a bunch of really good teams missed the cut. Despite a solid two-under 70 in alternate shot, Justin Thomas and Bud Cauley couldn't succumb their disappointing 70 in best-ball and will be sent packing. Spieth and Palmer made those two doubles coming in to fall from contention to an early exit. Wesley Bryan and Jon Rahm never got anything going this week. And Garcia looks like he'll miss his third straight cut since becoming a father, as he and Cabrera-Bello finished at four-under.
Time for walk-up songs!
One of the best parts of this week is that teams that make the weekend get to choose a walk-up song to play while they approach the first tee on Saturday and Sunday. This is the first time the PGA Tour has ever done this, and this is a beautifully un-country club move. While we won't get to see Charlie Wi and K.J. Choi walk up to "Gangnam Style" or Harold Varner III and Robert Garrigus swagger up to "Ebony and Ivory," as both teams missed the cut, we'll see Kisner and Brown walk up to "Slippery" by Migos and Charley Hoffman and Nick Watney bump "California Love." Should be quite the sight.