Three-Way Tie Sets Weekend Stage at Oak Hill
World No. 2 Scottie Scheffler is tied for the lead with two rounds remaining at the PGA Championship. World No. 1 Jon Rahm rebounded from one of his worst rounds as a professional and safely advanced to play the last two rounds. World No. 3 Rory McIlroy shot 1-under 69 and is inside the top-10.
After a frost delay on Thursday at Oak Hill and rain for a large portion of the day Friday, the 105th playing of this championship is back on track and ready for a riveting weekend.
Scheffler, looking for his second major championship, followed an opening 3-under 67 with a 68 on Friday to sit tied with Corey Conners and Viktor Hovland at 5-under total. Conners (67-68) and Hovland (68-67) are both looking for their first major titles. Bryson DeChambeau, the Round 1 leader, is tied for fourth place with Justin Suh, one shot back. Only nine players are under par.
So far, Scheffler, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR this season, has played extremely steady. On Thursday he made three birdies and no bogeys, and during the second round he made four birdies and two bogeys. One of those bogeys, however, came on the par-4 18th hole when he left his approach shot short of the green in thick rough. He pitched the ball to 12 feet but missed that putt for par.
Four birdies helped Scottie Scheffler go low at Oak Hill. @ROLEX | #ROLEX pic.twitter.com/1imXnNvbS3— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) May 19, 2023
“I find myself comfortable in these situations,” said Scheffler, who, along with Jon Rahm, was one of the favorites to win this week. “These are the positions I want to be in. I want to be near the lead. I don't want to be in 30th place or going home. I show up to the tournaments to perform at my best. I'm proud of how I did the first few days, and I'm excited to be in a good position going into the weekend.”
Conners won the Valero Texas Open earlier this year for his second tour title. He does have three top-10 finishes in majors but all three of those have come at the Masters. His best finish at the PGA Championship is a tie for 17th place two years ago at Kiawah Island.
On Friday at Oak Hill, the Canadian went toe-to-toe with Scheffler for most of the afternoon, and even held a one-shot lead for a long stretch. He made three birdies and 12 pars after 15 holes and recorded his lone bogey on the par-4 seventh hole, his 16th of the day. He had a look at birdie on the last hole from 16 feet but settled for par.
“Very pleased with the score,” Conners said. “The conditions were tricky out there, faced some wind, some rain. Ended up being reasonably nice the last few holes, but game was solid.”
Hovland birdied his first two holes of the day but then made a quick bogey. He birdied the 10th hole then threw a dart into the 18th green late on Friday and made birdie from 5 feet to join Conners and Scheffler at the top.
The 25-year-old from Norway has won three times on the PGA TOUR and has finished in a tie for fourth and tie for seventh respectively in the last two major championships.
“Obviously these tournaments are what you dream about winning and you practice so hard to play in,” Hovland said. “It's nice to be back to have a chance, but at the same time, we've got a lot of golf left. We're only halfway, and a lot of things can happen.”
Two-time PGA Champion Brooks Koepka birdied three of the last four holes to catch fire and shoot 66. He’s at 2 under and tied for sixth place. McIlroy closed with a birdie on the last hole to shoot 1-under on the day. He’s tied for 10th place.
Farther down the leaderboard, Rahm posted a 68 to get into the weekend after an opening 76 on Thursday. He is nine shots off the lead and tied for 48th place.
Jordan Spieth and 2022 PGA Champion Justin Thomas both had to make significant putts on the final hole Friday just to qualify for the weekend. Thomas was a shot clear of the cut line playing the 18th hole but left his approach shot in a fairway bunker. He hit his third shot out, his fourth to 8 feet and made that for bogey to make the cut on the number.
Moments later, in the next group, Spieth had some work to do too. He hit his approach shot into the greenside bunker, blasted out to 8 feet and made that for par to also make the cut on the number.
READ: Why Not Block? PGA Pro Eyes History at Oak Hill
The biggest story of the morning wave came from PGA Professional Michael Block, who was 3 under after the first five holes in his second round. He gave some of that back – including a shank off the tee on the par-3 fifth hole that led to a double bogey – but still shot a second consecutive 70 to stand tied for 10th place. He was the only PGA Professional to make the cut.
"Don't make me cry." Michael Block achieved a lifelong goal today. ❤️— PGA of America (@PGA) May 19, 2023
Block is only the second PGA Professional in the last 20 years to be inside the top 20 through 36 holes.#CorebridgexPGA | @scpga pic.twitter.com/O9OEJKR4hI