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Scottie Scheffler is on course to make it back-to-back wins at the WM Phoenix after a seven-under-par round of 64 on Friday leaves him two shots clear at the top of the leaderboard. The American followed up his steady opening round of 68 to take charge of the event in Arizona.
Scheffler will now have his eyes firmly set on winning the tournament and returning to the top of the world rankings. The world number two was ranked the best golfer in the world for much of 2022 and will sit on top of the pile once again if he wins the Phoenix Open and Rory Mcilroy finished worse than third.
Despite being in a confident mood, the Northern Irishman is currently struggling in Phoenix is seven shots off the pace. He is yet to complete his second round after play was suspended due to darkness on Friday and will finish his remaining five holes of round two today.
Mcilroy will just be glad that he’s still in with half a chance of glory after a poor opening round that saw him shoot a two-over-par round of 73. With Scheffler leading the way, he will know that he is going to need to produce his best golf to fight his way back into contention.
Scheffler taking advantage
The Phoenix Open is quite a unique golf tournament in the sense that it attracts and welcomes more raucous crowds. The atmosphere at the tournament is more like the Ryder Cup rather than the Masters, for example.
The golf course is very challenging as well, even if Scottie Scheffler is currently making it look anything but. After his second round score of 64, Scheffler told reporters:
“I think around this place when you’re hitting fairways and you’re hitting it well, the golf course can kind of open for you. But the opposite can happen in a hurry because there’s trouble lurking on basically every hole with there being desert close by. There are a lot of holes with water as well.
When you’re hitting it well, you have to take advantage of it like I did today. Hopefully, I’ll keep putting the ball in position as the week goes on.”
Defending champ Scottie Scheffler currently leads the pack heading into weekend after a bogey-free 64, the lowest score of the day so far with more second-round golf to play due to darkness. #RESPECT pic.twitter.com/SYhZFrMYp6
— WM Phoenix Open (@WMPhoenixOpen) February 11, 2023
The chasing pack
As Scheffler knows, two shots in golf can be handed back in a blink of an eye so will be wary of the players behind him. There are currently two players on -8 for the week – Canadian Adam Hadwin and Spaniard Jon Rahm.
It will be Rahm that Scheffler is most concerned about, especially when you consider the world number three’s form this year. He has already won two tournaments and, like Scheffler, could return to the top of the world rankings with a victory this week.
Rahm needs to win the tournament and Mcilroy to finish lower than second, meaning his route to the world number one spot is marginally easier than Schefflers. Rahm said at the start of the week that he enjoys playing in the event and after round two he told reporters:
“I’m making a lot of good swings out there and I’m going to remember that. Where they end up is to most of the extent out of my control.”