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Draws and Fades: Texas Two-Step Looms Large at Albany

The Tiger party in the Bahamas is off to a great start with plenty of storylines developing. With 36 holes now in the rearview mirror, two-time Hero World Challenge runner-up, Scottie Scheffler is tied for the lead at 9-under par with fellow Texas Longhorn, Jordan Spieth.

The Open Champion, Brian Harman, who grabbed First Round Leader honors on Thursday, shot a 3-under 69 on Friday to finish one shot off the pace at 8-under for the tournament. Harman played his last five holes on Friday in 5 under – after playing his first four holes of the day in 3 over.

After struggling for most of the year in 2023, Justin Thomas seems to be finding his game at the right time as we inch ever closer to the beginning of the 2024 PGA TOUR season. Thomas fell short of making the FedExCup Playoffs despite a promising 12th place finish at the Wyndham Championship back in August. He then took fifth at the Fortinet Championship in early September. Three weeks ago, JT finished fourth at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa – and here he is now, two shots off the lead at 7 under after firing a 67 on Friday.

Collin Morikawa, Tony Finau and Matt Fitzpatrick are three back at 6 under. Sepp Straka, Jason Day and Cameron Young round out the rest of the top half of the leaderboard in this 20-person field event.

After shooting a disappointing 75 on Thursday, tournament host Tiger Woods rebounded with a 2-under 70 on Friday. He made five birdies on the day but unfortunately strung together three bogeys in four holes on the inward nine. Like Tiger, Will Zalatoris returned to competition from injury this week for the first time since last Spring. He stumbled out of the gate, shooting 81 on Thursday but was 13 shots better on Friday in a round of 68. Zalatoris remains in last place after two rounds at 5 over. Two-time defending champion, Viktor Hovland is tied for 16th place at 2 over for the tournament.

With a star-studded field and the No. 1 player in the world atop the leaderboard, the weekend is primed for more drama but while we enjoy the excitement, how do we try to make some money at the same time?


Scottie Scheffler (+150)

Yes, it is a short price but it is probably about correct, too. This is a guy who has finished second here in his last two visits to Albany. He’s the best ball-striker in the field yet is only ranked 10th currently for Greens in Regulation and Strokes Gained: Approach. I expect his iron play to only get better over the weekend and that will keep him at the top if not hoisting the trophy on Sunday.

Jordan Spieth (+400)

Spieth shot a clean, bogey-free round on Friday and is arguably playing the best of anyone in the field through the first two days. He ranks fourth for SG: Approach and is No. 1 for SG: Off the Tee. Spieth is currently 13th for SG: Putting, losing nearly a stroke to the field on the greens. If the putter catches up to the rest of his game over the weekend, I don’t see him giving up any ground. The price is awfully nice too for a guy that is tied for the lead.


Matt Fitzpatrick (+1400)

The price looks quite nice for a player that is only three shots off the lead but there are flaws in the game in how he got to this point. Fitzpatrick is 16th in this field currently through two rounds, for SG: Approach and 17th for SG: Off the Tee. The putter is carrying him as he is second in the field for SG: Putting. If the iron game and long game don’t change dramatically, I don’t see him being able to sustain everything with only the putter.

Thomas’ iron play has been the best in the field through two rounds but the putter is not cooperating. He could make a charge but it looks like Scheffler and Spieth are the Texas Two-Step that everyone will have to beat.

Source : PGA Tour