FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — The 101st PGA Championship would most likely be one heck of a golf match — if Brooks Koepka wasn’t right here.
Koepka will carry the most important 36-hole lead in a serious in 84 years into the third spherical at Bethpage Black on Saturday.
After following up his record-setting 63 with a 5-under 65 on Friday, Koepka holds a seven-shot benefit over everybody else within the discipline.
That is the most important lead in a serious championship since Henry Cotton had a nine-shot benefit within the 1934 Open Championship. It is also the most important lead in PGA Championship historical past.
Here is the scariest half: Koepka insists he wasn’t on prime of his sport on Friday. That is most likely why he was again on the vary Friday night time, after posting the bottom 36-hole complete in main championship historical past at 128.
“This most likely sounds unhealthy, however [Friday’s second round] was a battle,” Koepka stated. “I did not strike it that good. I used to be leaking a number of to the suitable. The best way I hung in there and battled it, I feel that was most likely extra spectacular than [the first round], not having your A-game however nonetheless having the ability to shoot an important rating. I used to be very, more than happy with the way in which I performed [on Friday].”
Can anybody catch Koepka over the ultimate two rounds this weekend? It appears extremely unlikely.
In actual fact, it appears extra probably that Koepka widens his lead. When Tiger Woods received the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 strokes, he was eight underneath by 36 holes with a six-shot lead. Koepka is already 12-under with a seven-shot benefit.
“What Brooksy did, he is driving it 330 yards in the course of the green,” stated Woods, who performed the primary two rounds with Koepka. “He is bought 9-irons when most of us are hitting 5-irons, Four-irons, and he is placing properly. That provides as much as a fairly substantial lead, and if he retains doing what he is doing, there is not any motive why he cannot construct on this lead.”
With two rounds to play, it is most likely too early to say it is over, however let’s be sincere: It will take an entire collapse for Koepka to not win his second straight PGA championship. And that is unlikely from a participant who’s a whopping 30 underneath in his previous seven rounds in PGA Championships.
“It has to come back to an finish ultimately, that good front-running,” stated Adam Scott, who’s tied for second with Jordan Spieth. “Let’s hope it does not final 12 years, like Tiger’s did.
“If he does not have a sizzling day tomorrow, the hole narrows and there is strain over no matter lead he may need or won’t on Sunday. I do know he is received three majors. I do know he appears impenetrable in the meanwhile on this place, however in some unspecified time in the future he is bought to consider it.”
Listed here are the highest gamers who might be making an attempt to chase Koepka down — or praying that he in some way comes again to the sphere — this weekend on Lengthy Island:
Is the stoop lastly over for the three-time majors champion? Spieth hasn’t received since The Open in July 2017 and hasn’t had a prime 10 since The Open in 2018. Heck, Spieth hasn’t had a top-20 end in 13 PGA Tour occasions this season and has missed the lower 3 times.
However after firing a Four-under 66 to maneuver to five underneath by 36 holes, Spieth could be a significant factor on the weekend, as he tries to compete the profession grand slam for the third time by successful the PGA Championship.
In fact, one in all Spieth’s issues this season has been his play on transferring day, with solely two sub-70 scores within the third spherical in 10 occasions. He ranks 193rd in third-round scoring and 208th in fourth amongst Tour gamers.
However after struggling together with his sport for a lot of the previous two seasons, Spieth appears to be taking part in with far more confidence. He’s nonetheless spraying his driver a bit, hitting solely 15 of 28 fairways by the primary two rounds, however he’s scrambling and placing properly. He wanted solely 23 putts on Friday.
Heading into the 15th gap on Friday, Scott had a possibility to interrupt Koepka’s course document of 63 (set on Thursday) and probably problem the low spherical for a serious championship, a 62 by Branden Grace on the 2017 Open at Royal Birkdale.
However after posting birdies on seven of his first 14 holes, Scott three-putted from 22 toes for bogey on the par-Three 17th and knocked his tee shot into the deep tough en path to par on 18.
If the Australian can regain his contact on the greens — he made greater than 165 toes on 26 putts on Friday — he might make a transfer this weekend.
It is no secret that Johnson and Koepka are shut buddies and intensely aggressive, and nobody has extra energy to problem Koepka at Bethpage than DJ. By means of 36 holes, Johnson leads the sphere in driving distance with a 308.Three-yard common off the tee.
With a Three-under 67 on Friday, Johnson posted his seventh straight spherical within the 60s in a serious — solely Koepka has extra.
“I really feel like I am in a superb place,” Johnson stated. “I am pleased with the place I am at it doesn’t matter what the lead is after [Friday]. I’ll be someplace round it or shut sufficient to the place with 36 holes left, I am OK.”
Johnson would most likely be nearer if not for his putter. He wanted 62 putts by 36 holes and made solely six putts longer than 5 toes. He began the second spherical on No. 10 and had 5 birdies on the again 9 — probably the most by any participant in a serious at Bethpage Black — however then went 1 over within the last 10 holes.
Berger and Koepka grew up close to one another in South Florida and performed collectively for one season at Florida State.
Berger missed about 4 months after injuring his wrist final season. However he is again in type and fired a Four-under 66 within the second spherical on Friday.
Berger does not hit it so far as Koepka –he’s tied for 76th in driving distance after 36 holes — however he is correct off the tee and scrambles properly.
Berger has loved success in majors up to now, too. He completed tied for sixth on the 2018 U.S. Open at close by Shinnecock Hills and tied for 12th within the PGA Championship at Bellerive two months later.
The previous world No. 1 fired a Three-under 67 on Friday, which is a pleasant restoration after lacking the lower on the Masters in April.
Rose is searching for his elusive second main championship — he received the 2013 U.S. Open — however a nine-shot deficit to Koepka might be an excessive amount of to beat in two rounds.