Two days. Two new course records. Quite the shootout we have shaping up here, isn’t it?
For all the gripes and complaints that Liberty National received for its setup at the 2009 edition of The Barclays, it certainly seems as though the players are enjoying more than just the Manhattan skyline view this week in New Jersey.
Yes, just four short years ago, for all the luxury that one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive clubs provides, the course setup was — how to say this nicely — not particularly popular. One anonymous visitor, either a caddie or player depending on the account, said that they ruined a perfectly good landfill when they built Liberty National. The nicest thing Tiger Woods could say was, “it’s interesting.”
If you polled players this week, I have a feeling you’d hear something entirely different. After undergoing a makeover that included shortening a handful of holes and adjusting the greens, scoring is much lower than it was in 2009 and isn’t particularly showing any signs of slowing down.
Thursday’s opening round was highlighted by Kevin Stadler‘s round of 64, seven-under par. That round earned Stadler the course record for less than 24 hours, as Keegan Bradley shot a marvelous, bogey-free 63 in the second round to take the record for himself. With soft conditions from the rains, how long might that last?
It’s worth noting that Stadler’s 64 was matched three times in the second round by Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland and John Huh. With several players set to finish their second round on Saturday morning, it’s not inconceivable that Jim Furyk might match that mark. Overnight leader Matt Kuchar could even break Bradley’s record as he still has five holes to play Saturday morning.
Even if Kuchar shoots even par to finish the second round, his mark of -10 through 36 holes is already one stroke lower than Heath Slocum‘s winning 2009 total of -9. That’s some incredible scoring.
I don’t expect that this pace will necessarily keep up as weekend pin positions will get tougher and the course will change as it warms up and the turf dries out a bit. Still, if the tournament organizers and course designers wanted to create a more fair course for the players and a more exciting event for the fans, that’s a job well done.