Recap of the day
Scoring was similar to Thursday's environment where it was easy to card a red number but tough to take it real low.
Early highlights included rounds of 66 from Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele. Reed's 66 was rather notable considering he couldn't convert on a single birdie on Friday. That held as the low score of the day.
It was Tony Finau who made the most notable move as his 5-under 67 moved him from T5 into a share of first place. He's penciled just one bogey over the last two days but it wasn't stressfree today. There were a few occasions were he needed par-savers to fall from outside 10 feet to keep his momentum rolling. That included a fancy up-and-down at the par-4 18th where he found himself in the rough with very little green to work with. He nearly holed out the flop shot and then converted the par-saver from about 12 feet.
Full leaderboard: -13 Jon Rahm, Henrik Stenson, Tony Finau; -11 Gary Woodland; -10 Rickie Fowler; -9 Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson
-8 Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Alex Noren; -6 Justin Thomas; -5 Bubba Watson, Patrick Cantlay
-4 Bryson DeChambeau, Keegan Bradley; -3 Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama; -2 Tiger Woods
Latest betting: 5/2 Jon Rahm, Tony Finau, Henrik Stenson; 10/1 Rickie Fowler; 11/1 Gary Woodland
Sunday weather forecast
Temperatures look to be in the upper 70s again. Very comfortable conditions but a similar breeze as Saturday (10-to-15 MPH with gusts just a bit higher).
Leaders after 54 holes
Jon Rahm (69, 203) – The Scottsdale resident is enjoying his time on a desert layout in The Bahamas. He's doing a lot of his damage with the big stick, allowing himself to hit less club into these greens. One example came at the par-5 15th today where he was hitting 8-iron for the second shot. That helped him set up a very good look at eagle but a lip out forced him to settle for birdie. As long as his driver stays sharp, we should expect to see him contending down the home stretch tomorrow.
Henrik Stenson (69, 203) – The local resident is putting his local knowledge to good use. Stenson circled seven birdies in each of the first two rounds to co-lead with Rahm. He kept pace with Rahm today (-3) despite landing just five birdies in R3. His elite iron play has been on display all week. You can pinpoint that precision just by looking at his par-3 performance this week. There are five par 3s at Albany which means plenty of chances to drop shots. However, Stenson is bogey-free on the shorter holes and has circled three par-3 birdies along the way. Stenson has Scott Vail on the bag this week, who was previously the longtime caddie for Brandt Snedeker.
Tony Finau (67, 203) – The Round One Recap highlighted his troubles on bermuda but Finau has flipped the script since then. After an opening round of even-par 72, he's racked up 12 birdies and an eagle with just one dropped shot. Today his round included plenty of clutch par-savers to keep his momentum rolling.
Fate of the favorites
Justin Rose (68) – Playing a home game this week, Rose has been quietly lurking on the leaderboard. He's picked off 14 birdies and one eagle through 54 holes but he's also swallowed six bogeys and a double. Currently sits at T8, five shots off the leaders. A long shot to contend tomorrow but not out of the picture, as evidenced by Rickie Fowler last year.
Rickie Fowler (67) – Was slow out of the gate with an even-par 72 in R1. He is 10-under over his last 36 holes, with two eagles landed over that time. The big bird today came at the driveable, par-4 14th. Fowler stormed from SEVEN shots back last year to win, so he's definitely confident at 10-under, just three shots back this time.
Jon Rahm (69, 203): “If you're asking for a score I don't know. It really depends on the pin positions and the wind. The wind intensity is the number one factor. With good conditions, if it's any worse than 16-under I'll be shocked." [When asked about what it will take tomorrow]
Road to victory at Albany
2017 Rickie Fowler –R1: 2nd, R2: 5th, R3: 5th
2016 Hideki Matsuyama – R1: 2nd, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2015 Bubba Watson – R1: 4th, R2: 4th, R3: 1st
Notes: Two of the three winners at Albany have been at the top of the board after 54 holes. Fowler is the exception as he was seven off the pace but he fired a course-record 61 to earn his trophy.
Fate of the 54-hole leaders at the Hero World Challenge – where did they finish?
2017 Charley Hoffman – 2nd
2016 Hideki Matsuyama – 1st
2015 Bubba Watson - 1st
Notes: Like I just mentioned, two of the three 54-hole leaders have gone on to win. Watson entered with a two-shot lead and Matsuyama had a massive SEVEN-SHOT lead heading into the final round. The exception was Charley Hoffman last year who led by five shots after three days but swallowed an even-par 72 and got passed by Rickie Fowler (61).
Focus on – Alex Noren's Wild Ride
The Swede entered the day at 6-under, in a share of 10th place. He swallowed bogeys at 3 and 10 to drop further down the board. From there he finished the round:
That is eight straight holes without posting the same result on back-to-back holes. On the round, he recorded the 1-thru-7 cycle since one of his original bogeys came on a par 5 which gave him the '6' and he recorded a '2' at the par-3 12th.
Noren now has three eagles this week, leading the field in that department.
The Swede had FIVE total eagles all of last season (67 rounds). That was 13 fewer than the leader Webb Simpson who tallied 18 total eagles last season in 95 rounds.
Focus on – Patrick Reed
The American had a lot of question marks entering the week. He was flying in straight from Hong Kong. It was there he battled through a rib injury just to make the cut and then played a few more rounds to fight for a T45. As gamers, we weren't sure if there would be any lasting concerns with that rib injury or if jet lag would bite.
All those questions were pushed aside after an opening 7-under 65 which saw him co-lead after day one. "I was lucky enough from Hong Kong to have a night flight, so I slept for the first like four or five hours and then just kind of stayed awake once I got to Houston and was able to get kind of basically on our normal time zone." Anyone that has read about jet lag knows that it's not that simple. It takes days for the body to adjust and it finally may have caught up to him on Friday when he failed to circle a single birdie.
Reed rebounded today with another 8-birdie effort (6-under 66). Gamers should feel good about this showing from Reed because it shows that his rib injury is likely not going to be a problem in 2019. This was also a week for Reed to see some of his Ryder cup teammates for the first time since making his controversial comments.