The PGA Championship is poised for a thrilling weekend of action, with nothing to separate leaders Scottie Scheffler, Corey Conners, and Viktor Hovland after a rainy second round at Oak Hill Country Club on Friday.
A closing birdie from Hovland saw the Norwegian jump to five-under par and make it a three-way tie at the summit, after Canada’s Conners once again matched world No. 2 Scheffler stride for stride.
Scheffler, chasing his second major title, had looked poised to end his round as clubhouse leader before a closing bogey dropped the 2022 Masters champion back.
Despite the New York setting, world No. 29 Conners had no shortage of crowd support as he again mirrored the scorecard of arguably the game’s most in-form player.
“I think being so close to Canada there’s a lot of Canadian fans out here,” he told reporters. “They’re cheering me on. That definitely feels good.
“I’m not a super fiery guy, try not to get too high or low But [it] puts a smile on my face. Nice to know people are cheering for me.”
Conners and Scheffler were tied for third following the opening round with Dustin Johnson, who shot four-over 74 to tumble to tied-19th.
Johnson is joined at one-over par by Thursday leader Eric Cole, whose blistering start similarly faltered with a second round 74.
Justin Suh impressed again to jump to three-under and tied for second place alongside American compatriot Bryson DeChambeau, who remains in striking distance from the opening round.
“I know what to do. I’ve done it before,” the 2020 US Open champion told reporters.
“It’s been a few years, but it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to do it. If it’s not my time, it’s not my time, and I feel like I’m definitely trending in the right direction finally.”
Fellow LIV Golf star and former nemesis Brooks Koepka was arguably Friday’s biggest winner, his round-best 66 driving him into contention at tied-sixth alongside England’s Callum Tarren.
Joining four-time major champion Rory McIlroy and a host of other big names at even-par is Michael Block, the PGA club pro who has rapidly become the major’s feel-good story after a stellar opening two rounds.
Not bad for a 46-year-old who spends a lot of his time teaching, not playing.
“I’m just your local club pro, that’s what I do,” Block said.
“I don’t hit balls. People think I’ve got the best job in the world, I do have a great job. I have a very supportive club that lets me go play, but the amount of times I hit a bucket of balls is not even once a week.
“I always tell everybody, I practiced a lot when I was young. I’m old now, and my swing is what it is.”
Rahm rebounds to make the weekend
Block sails into the weekend five shots clear of a cut line that claimed several big names, including reigning US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, and Joaquin Niemann.
Among those that had looked in danger of missing the cut was Jon Rahm, but the Spaniard bounced back from a disastrous opening 76 with a second round 68. Even so, at nine shots shy of the leading trio, the 2023 Masters champion will need a heroic weekend performance if he is to clinch back-to-back major crowns.
“I struck it much better, only missed two greens,” Rahm said.
“Hit it really, really well, and gave myself a ton of birdie opportunities. Had I putted a little better, obviously I would be a little bit closer to in contention.”
The frustrations continued for defending champion Justin Thomas and career grand slam chasing Jordan Spieth with the pair narrowly squeezing under the cut line, tied for 59th.
“Tiger [Woods] has always said it, I’ve always said it, you’ve got to give yourself a chance and anything can happen,” Thomas said.
“On this golf course I gave myself a chance, so see if we can do something crazy this weekend.”
The two close friends are joined at five-over by two-time tournament champion Phil Mickelson, with the 52-year-old needing a big push to match his runner-up finish at Augusta National last month.