Brooks Koepka posted a second-round 66 and will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the WGC-Workday Championship.
Aside from a final-hole bogey, Koepka was phenomenal once again, tee to green, finishing with seven birdies, including a hat trick on Nos. 15, 16 and 17 en route to a two-day score of 11-under par.
“Doesn’t really annoy me, just got to accept it and move on,” said Koepka, in reference to his lone bogey on 18. “I’ve had a good game plan, you’ve just kind of — doesn’t matter what the wind is, you can still kind of put it in the same spot.
“I don’t hit that many drivers around here, a lot of 3-woods and just try to put it in the fairway.”
A group of three players were tied for second on 10 under par including reigning PGA champion Collin Morikawa, who carded a low-round 64 highlighted by nine birdies.
“I just made some putts. You know, I worked a lot on my chipping, talked to Paul Azinger a little bit before this week and that feels really good and that’s what’s kind of kept me back, that’s what made me have a bunch of six, eight-footers,” said Morikawa, who’s hit 80.6% of greens in regulation this week, a field best.
“I feel confident if I do miss a green that I can get up and down, it’s a lot of confidence. Obviously the putting feels good, I just had to match some speeds and lines together, and ball-striking overall the entire year has felt great.”
Cameron Smith (66) and Billy Horschel (67) were the others in the T2 group.
Overnight co-leaders Matthew Fitzpatrick and Webb Simpson carded matching 69s and were tied with Tony Finau (67) for fifth-place on 9-under par.
Defending champion Patrick Reed got off to a terrific start on Friday, reeling off six birdies through 12 holes to reach 10 under for the tournament. But the 30 year old Texan cooled off down the stretch, dropping two shots into the water – which resulted in his only bogeys, and settled for a second-consecutive round of 68.
“I think basically just kind of reset. I felt like I’m still making some good golf swings and putting myself in spots that you need to in order to attack this golf course,” said Reed.
“There, towards the end, it was just kind of a couple head scratchers.”
Reed sits T8, alongside Kevin Kisner (69) on 8 under.
Louis Oosthuizen (68) and Abraham Ancer (66) rounded out the top 10 on 7 under. One further back was Hideki Matsuyama (66), who moved up 23 spots on the day, after signing for a card comprised of seven birdies and one eagle. The 29-year old Japanese star sits alone in 12th on 6 under.
After an opening-round 73, Justin Thomas also bounced back nicely on Friday with a 6-under 66, and will enter the weekend T13 on 5 under, alongside early-round playing partner Rory McIlroy (70).
Tournament favorite Dustin Johnson shot 69 but after opening with a 77, that won’t be enough. The world No. 1 currently sits T54 on 2-over par, 13 back of the leader Koepka.
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 2)
1. Brooks Koepka -11 (-6)
2. Cameron Smith -10 (-6)
2. Billy Horschel -10 (-5)
2. Collin Morikawa -10 (-8)
5. Tony Finau -9 (-5)
5. Webb Simpson -9 (-3)
5. Matthew Fitzpatrick -9 (-3)
Saturday’s Final Pairings
1:25 pm – Reed (-8), Fitzpatrick (-9)
1:35 pm – Finau (-9), Simpson (-9)
1:45 pm – Horschel (-10), Morikawa (-10)
1:55 pm – Smith (-10), Koepka (-11)
DraftKing Sportsbook’s Odds
Lead After Round 3 (To Win)
Brooks Koepka +250 (+275)
Collin Morikawa +550 (+650)
Cam Smith +600 (+750)
Tony Finau +650 (+700)
Billy Horschel +800 (+1100)
Webb Simpson +800 (+750)
Matt Fitzpatrick +1200 (+1200)
Patrick Reed +1400 (+1200)
Q: Is there something about Florida that makes it feel like the Masters is closer than it really is? Can you feel it coming up?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I guess, because you’re trying to peak for it. Usually I can never find my game until THE PLAYERS, that’s kind of when it starts to feel like it’s coming around, but the fact that it’s here a little bit early is nice.
Q: Why is it here earlier?
BROOKS KOEPKA: Because I think, what was it, I’ve only been home like 25 days since Boston of the Playoffs last year, so I’ve spent the entire time in San Diego with my trainer Derek, just grinding, trying to make sure my knee’s right. Once my body was right, it was only a matter of time before my swing kind of came into, I don’t know, came into a groove I guess you could say. Then once — I mean, in December it finally was like it started to click, so I put in the work, it’s just now I’m starting to see it.