KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Quietly lurking just one shot out of the lead at the PGA Championship is Brooks Koepka, who knows a thing or two about winning this title, having done it in 2018 and 2019.
Koepka, who’s a mere two months removed from having knee surgery and has played just two tournaments since, missing the cut in both, shot a 1-under 71 Friday and is 4-under for the week, trailing leaders Phil Mickelson and Louis Oosthuizen by just a shot.
After his second round, Koepka rated his Friday performance a “C-plus.’’
Koepka called his grind on the golf course “easy’’ compared to what he had done to get there.
“Everything I did in rehab was a hell of a lot harder, I can promise you that,’’ he said.
Bryson DeChambeau is in the mix, shooting an even-par 72 Friday to stand at 1-under for the tournament. He enters the weekend just four shots out of the lead.
“I think if I could put a good number up [Saturday], hold strong in the wind and shoot 2, 3-under, I’ll be right there for Sunday,’’ he said. “I’m just creeping up that leaderboard slowly but surely, and if I can do that like I did at Winged Foot [his 2020 U.S. Open win], that’s A-OK with me.’’
Erik van Rooyen did what about 100 other players probably thought about doing on the par-3 17th hole, which was the most difficult of the day: After hitting his tee shot into the water (it was the 18th water-ball of the day on the hole), he slammed his club into the tee marker, shearing the head of the club off the shaft and breaking the tee marker. Van Rooyen, who shot 81 on the day, took triple bogey on the hole and a PGA official quietly replaced the tee marker.
Neither of the two “defending champions’’ — Rory McIlroy or Collin Morikawa — asserted themselves in the second round.
McIlroy, who won the PGA the last time it was played at the Ocean Course in 2012, is 3-over and eight shots adrift of the lead.
“I haven’t played the par-5s well this week,’’ he said. “That’s been the big thing. If I’d have played those better, I’d have been right up there, but making five bogeys on the par-5s is not going to get it done.’’
Morikawa, the actual defending champion, who won in 2020, is 1-over.
Among the big names who missed the cut, which landed on 5-over, were world, No. 1 Dustin Johnson, former PGA winner Justin Thomas, Adam Scott and Xander Schauffele, all of whom were 6-over.
Ian Poulter, who had a great round going and was near the top of the leaderboard at one point Friday, was rattled by something he saw on a scoreboard during his round.
“I got to 13 and there was a scoreboard in the distance and it says, ‘Ian Poulter, 6-under through 12 and chasing down a course record,’ and I just started laughing to myself, like, ‘Who in the world would write that and put that on a board with that last five holes to play?’ ’’ Poulter said.
Poulter was approaching the teeth of the golf course, holes 14 through 18, when he saw that post. He ended up going 4-over on that final stretch to finish the day 2-under for the tournament.
None of the five club pros from the Metropolitan Area made the cut. Century’s Frank Bensel Jr. finished 21-over after shooting 86-79. Westchester Country Club’s Alex Beach finished 17-over after shooting 75-86. Fresh Meadow’s Danny Balin finished 8-over after shooting 79-73. Silvermine’s Peter Ballo finished 11-over after shooting 80-75. And Glen Arbor’s Rob Labritz finished 13-over after shooting 76-81.
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