Pro Golf Weekly

Woodland Takes Lead Into Weekend at PGA Championship

ST. LOUIS, MO – Gary Woodland shot a 4-under par 66 on Friday and will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the 2018 PGA Championship.

Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland hits a shot on the 12th hole during day two of the 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive CC in St Louis, MO. Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Woodland, who played in the morning wave, was one of 78 players to complete his round before play was suspended due to inclement weather. Update: All 78 players in Friday’s afternoon wave resumed their second rounds at 7 am local time on Saturday and wrapped up at 10:29 am.

The 34-year old Kansan finished his second day at Bellerive with four birdies to offset two bogeys, while adding an eagle on the par-5 17th.

The key for Woodland has been his prodigious length off the tee, where he’s banging them 318 yards (T6) to Bellerive’s ample fairways. This has allowed him to shoot at greens from an average of just 110 yards, resulting in a 83% greens-hit rate (T5).

“For me, I’m very happy with where I’m at. I’m very comfortable with how I’m driving the golf ball,” said Woodland.

“The iron game, the distance control this week has been phenomenal. And when I stand over a golf ball putting as comfortable as I am right now, I’m pretty excited.”

Kevin Kisner, who came out of his season-long slump at the Open, once again finds himself near the top of the leaderboard at a major, following a second-day 64.

“I’ve made a bunch of cuts and competed in majors, I just haven’t, until recently, haven’t competed, had a chance to win and that’s been our goal going forward and I like my position going to the weekend,” said Kisner.

The South Carolina native got off to a terrific start on Friday, carding six birdies in his opening nine holes to post a 29, one shot shy of a PGA Championship record. Though he cooled off on his closing nine – offsetting a bogey with a birdie, while adding seven pars, he still posted the day’s second best round and signed for a two-day score of 9-under par.

The key thus far for Kisner has been his accuracy, both from the tees and to the greens – hitting 25 of 28 fairways (3rd) and 30 of 36 greens (T5).

Brooks Koepka 2018 PGA Championship at the Bellerive CC
Brooks Koepka tees off on the 12th hole during day two of the 2018 PGA Championship at the Bellerive CC in St Louis, MO. Credit: David Cannon/Getty Images

Brooks Koepka moved 30 spots up the leaderboard after shooting a co-low round of 63. Starting the the 10th tee, the 2017 and 2018 U.S. Open winner finished the day without a bogey while adding seven birdies, highlighted by five in a seven-hole stretch (Nos.15, 17, 1, 2, 3).

“Played really well,” said Koepka. “I feel like yesterday I played really well too and sometimes it just, you don’t really score very well.

“I think the double we had, we hit a 6-iron, great 6-iron, the wind just kind of switched on us and that happens. But today I drove it beautifully, my wedges distance control is very spot on, and making the putts, making those five, 6-footers that you need to make.”

Rickie Fowler finished up his second round on Saturday morning, posting a 67 to join Koepka at 8-under par

Dustin Johnson and Thomas Pieters each carded 66 to reach 7-under par, alongside Charl Schwartzel who matched Koepka’s low-round 63. Shane Lowry joined the trio after wrapping up a 64 on Saturday.

Defending champion Justin Thomas closed with a bogey-free 4-under par back nine to sign for a 66 and sit T9 alongside Pat Perez (67) and Brandon Stone (68).

Jordan Spieth bounced back from an opening-round 71 to post a bogey-free 66 on Friday to move up to T25 at 3-under par. Despite being just seven back heading into the weekend, Spieth feels the soft bent grass greens at Bellerive will send scores low, and hinder any chance for a comeback.

“I think that it’s tough to come to — it’s tough to come to a venue with bent grass greens and this kind of weather. This course is, would be phenomenal in, and probably is phenomenal, if it’s not playing so soft. And it’s not the rain that came on Tuesday, it was like that on Monday,” said Spieth.

“So you can just, you just fire in and you get away with more, like you don’t have to be as precise. That’s frustrating in a major championship because typically what it does is you don’t really have to be as precise on and around the greens.

“That’s frustrating to me because I feel like that’s an advantage that I have. So personally I would prefer more difficult and firmer faster conditions on the greens.”


2018 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP


TOP 10: TWO ROUNDS

POS-PLAYER-SCORE (TODAY)
1. Gary Woodland -10 (-4)
2. Kevin Kisner -9 (-6)
3. Brooks Koepka -8 (-7)
3. Rickie Fowler -8 (-3)
5. Dustin Johnson -7 (-4)
5. Charl Schwartzel -7 (-7)
5. Thomas Pieters -7 (-4)
5. Shane Lowry -7 (-6)
9. Justin Thomas -6 (-4)
9. Brandon Stone -6 (-2)
9. Pat Perez -6 (-3)


OTHER NOTABLES

POS-PLAYER-SCORE (TODAY)
12. Jason Day -5 (-2)
12. Adam Scott -5 (-5)
12. Francesco Molinari -5 (-3)
12. Patrick Cantlay -5 (-3)
12. Jon Rahm -5 (-3)
19. Justin Rose -4 (-1)
19. Zach Johnson -4 (E)
19. Tiger Woods -4 (-4)
19. Webb Simpson -4 (-2)
25. Jordan Spieth -3 (-4)
25. Xander Schauffele -3 (-3)
25. Ian Poulter -3 (E)
25. Hideki Matsuyama -3 (-1)
25. Rory McIlroy -3 (-3)
37. Tyrrell Hatton -2 (-3)
37. Rafael Cabrera Bello -2 (-2)
49. Tommy Fleetwood -1 (E)
49. Marc Leishman -1 (+1)
49. Jimmy Walker -1 (E)
63. Tony Finau E (-4)


NOTABLES: MISSING CUT

81. Matt Kuchar +1 (E)
81. Sergio Garcia +1 (+1)
81. Bryson DeChambeau +1 (E)
93. Henrik Stenson +2 (-1)
93. Alexander Noren +2 (+1)
103. Patrick Reed +3 (+1)
114. Phil Mickelson +4 (+1)
137. Bubba Watson +8 (+8)
140. Paul Casey +8 (+3)


DAY-TWO HIGHLIGHTS


QUOTABLE

“The crowds are as big as I’ve seen. They were massive on Monday. For me, being this close to home, I have a ton of friends and family out here, a ton of KU people, which is nice, but we are in Missouri territory.

“I mean, there’s a lot of Mizzou people out there. I’m getting more M-i-z’s than I am Rock Chalks, which is very rare. It’s funny. It’s nice. Good banter back and forth between the Kansas and Missouri fans.

“But the crowds are awesome. There’s a lot of energy out there, and it’s positive energy. It’s fun to come here. I think this area is striving for an event like this, and it’s pretty special to get one here.”
– Gary Woodland

Jeff Smith

Jeff is a writer and content producer for Pro Golf Weekly. He is working on a book, documenting the 2017 and 2018 seasons on the major golf tours.

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