Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland and Corey Conners share the lead at 5-under through two rounds at Oak Hill. They also represent three distinct classes in the current structure of professional golf.
Scheffler is the dominant force – searching for his second major championship to pair alongside an already prolific PGA TOUR season that includes wins at THE PLAYERS Championship and the WM Phoenix Open. Hovland is the up-and-comer that everyone agrees could reach the tier Scheffler currently presides in but needs a win like this one to prove it. Then there’s Conners. Already a winner on the PGA TOUR this season, Conners has held a lead/co-lead of a major just once before. But while it’s always been assumed Scheffler and Hovland will rack up majors throughout their career, that same can’t be said for Conners.
The result is a mighty intriguing trio heading into the weekend.
Scheffler and Conners sat atop the leaderboard for much of the afternoon. Both grabbed a pair of birdies early in the round to jump in front, Scheffler on his first and second holes of the day and Conners on his fourth and sixth. Each player got as low as 6-under with birdies early on their inward nine but each dropped a shot late to fall back to 5-under.
Hovland spent most of the day chasing – and he was out and running early. He birdied his first two holes of the day, finding both fairways and then hitting a pair of good wedges to set up birdie looks. He drained a 10-foot putt on the first hole and a 20-footer on the second. His lone bogey came on the par-3 third. Hovland picked up another birdie on the par-4 10th and added another on the par-4 18th.
As quickly as Hovland burst on the PGA TOUR scene, it’s taken the Norwegian a bit longer to find his rhythm in major championships.
The question now is whether Hovland can maintain his play through the weekend. He was in the second-to-last group at the Masters and shot a final-round 74 to to fall out of contention. He was tied for the lead entering the final round of the 2022 Open Championship and shot a 74 to lose by six shots. What is in store for the 25-year-old this week?
Welcome to the Block party: If seeing the name Michael Block near the top of the leaderboard Friday morning caused you to do a double take, don’t fret. He certainly wasn’t expected to be there. But after two rounds, the PGA professional has left no doubt that he belongs there.
After an opening round of even-par 70, Block was rolling early on Friday morning. He made birdie on three of his first five holes thanks to superb approach play. He made an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 10, his first hole of the day, then stuck his approach on the par-4 12th within 3 feet for another birdie. He added another at the short par-4 14th, which briefly vaulted him into second place and one stroke off the lead. He made a couple costly mistakes coming in, however, making a bogey from 88 yards on the par-5 fourth hole and shanking his tee shot on the par-3 fifth, which led to a double bogey. Yet, the club pro from Mission Viejo, California, was extremely pleased with his round.
“I feel like I’ve got the game this week to compete, to tell you the truth,” Block said.
Block stands T10 through 36 holes at Oak Hill. He’s the first club professional to crack the top 10 through 36 holes at the PGA Championship since Jay Overton in 1988 (solo second).
Cantlay the best of the morning wave: It was a difficult morning at Oak Hill as strong winds combined with a firm golf course. Among the 78 players who teed off Friday morning, only seven broke par. The top among them: Patrick Cantlay.
After firing a disappointing first-round 74, Cantlay followed it up with a 3-under 67, the lowest second-round score of the morning wave. He’s 1-over for the tournament, a respectable T19 into the weekend, six off the pace.
“I played really well today,” Cantlay said. “Did a lot of things well. The golf course is playing difficult, and I hit a lot of really solid, smart shots.”
Cantlay’s tee-to-green game was the biggest difference in his bounce-back round. Normally a top-tier driver and ball striker, Cantlay ranked 75th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green on Thursday. Through the morning wave, his second round ranked first.
Cantlay opened the day with birdies on three of his first five holes. None of the birdie putts were longer than 11 feet. He rebounded from a dropped shot on the par-3 15th with a birdie on the par-4 18th, again sticking his approach shot to within 10 feet and draining the putt. It appeared Cantlay was well on his way to posting a 4-under round to get back to even-par for the tournament; however, the No. 4 player in the world bogeyed his last hole of the day, No. 9. Still, Cantlay went from cut line to contention with his performance through two rounds.
Big names miss the cut: Several top names will not be staying in Rochester this weekend for the final two rounds of the PGA Championship. The cut line fell at 5-over 145.
Cameron Young, Sam Burns, Sungjae Im and Tom Kim were among notables from the morning wave to miss the cut.
Young entered the week as one of the favorites. Son of a PGA pro and a New York native, the No. 15 ranked player in the world struggled with Oak Hill’s difficult conditions. After an opening-round 74, Young shot 75 on Friday with a two-shot penalty for failing to replace his ball mark on No. 16.
Young was 2-under for the day as he played the 16th hole, his seventh hole of the second round. After putting his ball near the hole, Young moved his marker out of the line of fellow competitors Tommy Fleetwood and Hideki Matsuyama. Young failed to replace his marker before putting out, though, and that infraction of Rule 15.3c cost him two strokes, leading to a double bogey. That derailed his round as Young picked up bogeys on Nos. 18 and 4 before another double-bogey on the par-4 sixth.
Meanwhile, Im and Burns will both miss the cut after shooting 80 in one of their first two rounds. Im opened his tournament with an 80 on Thursday and followed it with a 73 on Friday. Burns shot 80 in his second round to balloon from 4-over to 14-over for the tournament. It’s his worst round in a major tournament. Burns couldn’t recover from a pair of triple bogeys on the second and fourth holes to begin his round.
Kim, who went viral on Thursday night after he slipped and fell into the mud on the par-4 sixth hole, played a sloppy second round. He made six bogeys and one double bogey en route to a 75. He finished 8 over for the tournament.
Matt Fitzpatrick (6 over) and Jason Day (8 over) were among notables to miss the cut from the afternoon wave. Fitzpatrick finished bogey-bogey on Nos. 17 and 18 to miss by one; Day played his last three holes in 3 over, including a missed 3-foot par putt on 16 followed by a double bogey on No. 17.
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