Scottie Scheffler sets a course record, Kevin Tway returns from the abyss and Cam Smith flops his way into our hearts
Scottie Scheffler plays his shot from the 14th tee during the second round of the Houston Open.
Fresh off his ridiculously good Ryder Cup, when Steve Stricker used him as a four-ball specialist with Bryson DeChambeau just before he took down World No. 1 Jon Rahm in Sunday singles, Scottie Scheffler is apparently riding very high. On Friday at the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open, Scheffler didn't just have the day's best round, he set the course record.
After a bogey on the fourth hole, he was even for the day, and that was the last time anyone saw him in this stratosphere. He made birdies on eight of his last 14 holes to card a 62, the best anyone has ever done at Memorial Park, on the PGA Tour or otherwise. There was a ton of variety in his scoring—hitting his approaches to tap-in distance, burying 34-footers, and going up and down from the rough on a par 5, and chipping in—but the result was always the same:
That's Scheffler's third 62 on the PGA Tour, though his most famous round to date was a 59 at The Northern Trust in 2020. He started with a rickety 72 on Thursday, but the Friday's fireworks still vaulted him up to T-4, and looking at the leader board, this seems like a pretty good chance to get his first PGA Tour win. (No disrespect to Martin Trainer, the wildest story in Houston.) Scheffler was born in New Jersey, but he moved to Dallas as a child, so he's basically a native son, and he proved on Friday that he's got the firepower and the form to put a hurting on the field. He's too good to go much longer without a win, and this could be the moment.
Kevin Tway, where have you been?
Granted, this is a hard angle to take when the man in first place, Trainer, has barely made a cut in years, but Tway too has long been missing from the top of the leader board. When you can go through a full OWGR page without seeing a top-10, it's a safe bet that things have been a little dire, and you have to go all the way back to the 2019 Travelers Championship to find Tway at his best. For the last two years, he's been outside the top 175 in the FedEx Cup rankings, and starting next year, his status from his win at the 2018 Safeway Open will have run out. It's time to get it going, and with a 64 on Friday that left him one shot off the lead, Tway seems to have received the message.
The highlight came on the 13th hole, when Tway decided that he would prefer not to putt:
This is the best golf Tway, now 33, has played in years. Like Scheffler, he'll be extremely eager to seize the opportunity Houston presents over the weekend.
Don’t try this Cameron Smith shot at home
The flop shot onto a downhill green is the holy grail of shots that amateurs with big eyes will attempt every single time—and absolutely never successfully execute. It's so enticing because it's so beautiful when done correctly, and Cameron Smith showed us all how it was done on the 11th hole Friday:
That's just stupidly good, and we'll all be seeing it in our dreams.
Do not watch this clip if you value your nerves
Rick Gehman alerted us to the fact that the man conducting an on-course game of operation as he moves pine needles and leaves away from his ball is certified flop king Cam Smith. Be warned, though, that this is more excruciating to watch if you're a golfer than an actual bomb squad trying to defuse a nuke. Gird your (mental) loins:
Imagine trying to do this with a camera over your shoulder ... must make you long for the days when you could make the ball oscillate and nobody would know the difference. No harm, no foul. Not that we're endorsing that …
Chase Koepka is not having a good time
Last and ... well, least, we had a Chase Koepka sighting in Houston. Even though we don't get to see him often, it's always intriguing when he's in the field, and it would be fun if the player Brooks Koepka once claimed was better than him could come into his own. That could still happen, but it ain't happening this week.
We do not mean to dog a man for struggling at the aggravating game of golf, but it's hard not to notice that at the very bottom of the leader board, eight strokes worse than Harold Varner III in second-to-last, Chase Koepka finished his Houston Open at 16 over following rounds of 77 and 80.
While his older has been jousting with Bryson DeChambeau, Koepka the Younger has been bouncing around the Canadian and Latinoamérica tours, along with stints on the Challenge Tour in Europe—a path also taken by his brother. So far, though, nothing has stuck. After this performance, Koepka finds himself in that hugely unenviable position of being 27 and not knowing whether life as a professional golfer is ever going to happen for him.
One thing we do know is that this week, the saddest Twitter account of all is the "Chase Koepka tracker":
The wild thing is, that's a sincere account, not someone doing a bit. To which all we can say is, "oof."