Scheffler, Conners, Hovland tied for PGA lead after 2 rounds

Associated PressMay 19, 2023, 08:39 PM ET4 minutes of reading

ROCHESTER, NY — Oak Hill has a little more to offer this PGA Championship. One constant is Scotty Scheffler, who is used to chasing the majors.

A snow delay at the start gave way to heat and wind on Friday morning, and rain in the afternoon brought out the umbrellas. Scheffler was consistent as ever, posting a 2-under 68 that put him in the lead with Corey Connors and Victor Hovland.

“These are the positions I want to be in,” Scheffler said. “I’m doing my best in competitions. I’m proud of how I did in the first few days and I’m happy to be in good shape for the weekend. That being said, I’ll just keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing.”

Hovland, who shared the 54-hole lead at St. Andrews last summer, is getting used to it, too. He dropped just 1 shot early in his 67 and closed with a wet, thick rough 7-iron to 5 feet for birdie. It was his 10th consecutive round at the majors when he finished a day inside the top 10 on the leaderboard.

Conners had a 68, building a 2-shot lead at one point and having to rely on his short game.

They finished at 5-under 135, 2 shots clear of Bryson DeCambeau (71) and Justin Xu (68).

The leading seven players — including Brooks Koepka, who shot a 31 on the back nine for his round of 66 — came from the same side of the draw. Freezing temperatures and frost on the grass delayed them by two hours. They avoided the wind Friday morning, and then the rain took some of the fire out of Oak Mountain.

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“The rain … luckily we didn’t have any wind, so that helped us,” Hovland said. “With that rain, the ball’s gone a little bit. If you’re in the rough, it makes that rough a little bit juicier. At the end of the day, it softens the greens, and you can. Be a hair more aggressive.”

Of course, there were some impressive twists.

Shane Lowry had six birdies over eight holes on a rainy afternoon until closing with a pair of bogeys. He had to settle for a 67, leaving him at 140-par in a big group and 5 shots behind, which was still too much.

That group included club pro Michael Black (70), and Rory McIlroy believed he hit the ball badly — on a drive that sounded like it — and looked mildly dismayed when he looked at the leaderboard after his 69. range itself.

“I think as bad as I’ve felt about the golf ball the last couple of days, the fact that I’m only five under … I think that’s a good thing because I know if I can play it. Off the tee, that was the key to my success over the weekend,” McIlroy said. said.

Some players were happy to still be there for the weekend.

World No. 1 and reigning Masters champion John Rahm opened with a 76. He was running with no holes, 1 shot over the cut at 5 over, he rattled off three straight birdies to shoot a 68 and make the cut with 1 shot to spare.

Jordan Spieth walks off the tee at the 14th, thinking he’ll get a good birdie look. Then he found a bad lie in a front bunker, his shot sailed over the green, over the boundary fence and landed somewhere on the grounds of Irondequoit Country Club.

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He had to try again, scratched a bogey, birdied the 15th and completed his save for the day with a 10-foot putt for par to even the score. He was tied at the bottom with defending champion Justin Thomas, who was 2 shots out of the bunker on the 18th and had to make a 7-foot bogey putt to get to the weekend.

Now the focus shifts to the top, a mix of major champions, PGA Championship debutants, a PGA Tour rookie and a club professional. They were all within 5 shots of the lead.

DeChambeau started the round in the lead. Eric Cole was 1 shot ahead in the morning and still had four holes to complete the snow-delayed first round. His first swing of the day went into the water and he finished with a one-under par 67, followed by a 74.

DeChambeau had a rough start. He was in a greenside bunker, took 2 shots to get out and made double bogey.

He didn’t make his first birdie until the par-3 11th hole — DeChambeau hit a 6-iron from 248 yards to 6 feet — and had two more birdies before ending up with a bogey.

Then he went to the range as darkness fell.

“I know what to do. I’ve done it before,” said DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion on wing foot. “It’s been a few years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to do it. , and if it’s not my time, it’s not my time. I definitely feel like I’m going in the right direction.”

Scheffler, who competed in the 2020 PGA Championship as a rookie, won the Masters a year ago and missed a US Open playoff by 1 shot at Brookline.

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He opened with two birdies, made his first bogey of the tournament on the seventh hole and put Connors into the lead with a wedge into the thick rough on the 14th and a short range first on the 131-yard 15th hole. With the front pin.

“The match is halfway over,” Scheffler said. “I’ve had a couple of good days so far and I’m hoping to continue that as the week goes on.”

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