Most of the media buzz seems to be about Tiger Woods’ second consecutive 68, but the real story is that Charlie Wi went 61-69 to get to 12 under. He leads the tournament all alone.
Dustin Johnson is alone in second at -9, while Brian Gay, Vijay Singh, Danny Lee, Padraig Harrington and Brendon Todd all are T3 at -8. Mickelson ran up the leaderboard 34 spots with a 65 into a T8. Tiger, in the meanwhile, is T17, six strokes behind. That’s one stroke and one position worse than the previous day. Still if he keeps it up, he’s headed to a very respectable finish. At this rate, he should end up at twelve or thirteen under. That would have earned him a T4 in 2010 and a T2 in 2011.
He’ll have to go really low the next two days to win. Over the last ten years, the winner has averaged -17.2 strokes to par. The tournament record is -20, set by Phil Mickelson in 2007 and Mark O’Meara in 1997.
Wi, on the other hand, is well on his way to reaching a winning number. That should garner the relative unknown some interest. He’ll also draw attention for his unusual “stack and tilt” swing. Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, who codified that swing, apparently think of Wias their model players.
Wi has seven pro wins, all on the Asian Tour, with one of those being co-sanctioned by the European Tour. The closest he’s come to a PGA Tour victory was the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational, where he played into first only to lose to David Toms by a stroke.
On Saturday, Tiger and Phil both will be at Pebble Beach—a course where they both have on in convincing fashion in the past. That’ll be their chance to get to the top. Wi, on the other hand, will be at Spyglass, which is rumored to be a tougher track.
Should be interesting.