Frustration for Lowry and McIlroy as Li leads at US PGA

Lowry snaps iron over knee while triple bogey seven derails McIlroy’s run

Shane Lowry reacts on the 14th green during the first round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Photograph: Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

Shane Lowry reacts on the 14th green during the first round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. Photograph: Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

 

China’s Haotong Li leads the US PGA Championship by two strokes after a frustrating day for Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry that saw them squander good starts to their rounds.

Shane Lowry followed up his opening 68 with birdies on 1st and 5th holes, but five bogeys in six holes from the 8th derailed his challenge. The frustration came out on the 13th hole when the British Open champion snapped an iron over his knee after a bad break.

After a birdie on the 15th hole, Lowry finished with a two-over-par 72 for tied 44th on even par for the tournament.

Rory McIlroy was three under and on the charge before a ghastly triple bogey seven at the 12th. At one under and tied 31st, McIlroy is far from out of this but has cause to worry about the depth of field in front of him. McIlroy’s Friday 69 included six birdies. “Once Tiger and I got our tee shots off 18, I just gave him a look like, phew, glad that’s almost done,” McIlroy said. “It was tough out there.”

Graeme McDowell shot a 74 to finish six over for the tournament and miss the cut.

During various moments of the second round, injury appeared the greatest danger to Brooks Koepka’s bid to make history. Koepka was seen flat on his back, undergoing physiotherapy treatment in scenes that raised fears over his very ability to complete this event.

Beware the injured golfer, they say. By the time Koepka walked from Harding Park’s 18th green, he had just converted a birdie putt from 10ft after playing the shot of the day from a fairway bunker. A 68 moved Koepka to six under and within just two of Haotong Li. Should he win Koepka would become the first golfer since 1956 to win the same major three times in succession.

“It was my hip,” Koepka explained of necessary medical attention. “It’s fine, I woke up this morning, it was tight, and worked out and it got even tighter and then we loosened it up. It was a little tight when I was hitting balls on the range but it’s nothing to be worried about. We’ll loosen it up again and it will be a lot better.

“I’m pretty happy. I felt like I probably could be 10 under right now. I hit a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in. A couple of them, if I just hit them, they’re in. I’m driving it pretty well. Iron play, I’m pretty pleased with. You know, I like where I’m at.”

On a bunched leaderboard, 44 players are separated by seven shots. Tiger Woods flirted with the cut line but ultimately survived; the 15-times major champion is eight from the lead after a 72 during which round one’s putting touch completely deserted him.

Tommy Fleetwood signed for a closing round of 63 at the 2018 US Open, thereby coming within a whisker of stealing Koepka’s thunder at Shinnecock Hills. At that juncture, a major win appeared so closely within Fleetwood’s grasp. He was second, again, as Lowry triumphed at the Open. It has been understandably lost in the melee of Covid-19 but in specific context of golf, Fleetwood has cause to rue a disruption to the major scene of 2020. “Experience? You can’t buy it,” Fleetwood said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have some of that and hopefully it stands me in good stead moving forward.”

Tommy Fleetwood of England plays his shot from the 14th tee during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship. Photograph: Ezra Shaw/Getty
Tommy Fleetwood of England plays his shot from the 14th tee during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship. Photograph: Ezra Shaw/Getty

His second round of 64 catapulted him through the field, thereby restoring a narrative as attached to the finest players in the modern game as yet to win a major. Fleetwood played the back nine, his front, in just 31 shots. The sole aberration on the 2nd, his 11th, paled into insignificance against a six under par round. Fleetwood improved by six from day one. Likewise, from two PGA Tour starts following his return to the US; Fleetwood missed the cut at the 3M Open and tied 35th at last weekend’s World Golf Championship.

“I’m the same person,” said Fleetwood with a smile when asked to assess Shinnecock versus Harding Park. “I’ve got a little bit more experience. If you look at it, was I playing better at Shinnecock? Maybe. But that might only be because I’ve only played two weeks since coming back.”

The 29-year-old from England is candid about the issues as raised by travel barriers between the UK and US. He didn’t take the option of appearing at the PGA Tour’s restart in mid-June on personal, and perfectly understandable, grounds.

“I think you assess the situation week in, week out at the moment and see how everybody feels,” Fleetwood added. “I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to what anybody does. What I did was I knew whenever I did come over to the States there was a two-week quarantine and I knew I was going to spend a long stretch.

“I was leaving it as late as possible to start playing just because then it would be a straight stretch in America.”

Jason Day joined Fleetwood at six under. So, too, did Justin Rose after holing a terrific putt on the 18th for a 68. Paul Casey’s 67 moved him to minus five. Bryson DeChambeau is two under after a 70.

Li added a 65 to his first round 67 before Koepka, McIlroy and Woods had even taken to the course. “I’ve got no expectation actually, because you know for the last few months, I’ve stayed at home doing nothing,” said Li. Time will tell if this carefree approach can carry the 25-year-old from Hunan successfully through the closing 36 holes.

Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler were among those to exit early, with Fowler whiffing a six-inch tap-in. Martin Kaymer, having opened so promisingly with a 66, shot 82 for his own, wounding early departure. – Guardian

Collated second round scores

(USA unless stated, par 70):
132 Haotong Li (Chn) 67 65
134 Brooks Koepka 66 68, Daniel Berger 67 67, Jason Day (Aus) 65 69, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 66 68, Justin Rose (Eng) 66 68, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng) 70 64
135 Brendon Todd 65 70, Paul Casey (Eng) 68 67, Cameron Champ 71 64
136 Dustin Johnson 69 67, Alex Noren (Swe) 67 69, Xander Schauffele 66 70, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 68 68, Lanto Griffin 68 68
137 Bud Cauley 66 71, Matthew Wolff 69 68, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn) 70 67, Si Woo Kim (Kor) 69 68, Joel Dahmen 69 68, Tony Finau 67 70, Brendan Steele 66 71, Scottie Scheffler 66 71, Dylan Frittelli (Rsa) 70 67
138 Adam Scott (Aus) 68 70, Harold Varner III 72 66, Collin Morikawa 69 69, Bryson DeChambeau 68 70, Brandt Snedeker 72 66, Patrick Reed 68 70
139 Viktor Hovland (Nor) 68 71, Joost Luiten (Ned) 71 68, Gary Woodland 67 72, Nate Lashley 69 70, Brian Harman 68 71, Adam Hadwin (Can) 68 71, Webb Simpson 71 68, Kevin Streelman 69 70, Abraham Ancer (Mex) 69 70, Denny McCarthy 70 69, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 70 69, Jon Rahm (Spa) 70 69, Victor Perez (Fra) 70 69
140 Tiger Woods 68 72, Ryan Palmer 74 66, Danny Lee (Nzl) 69 71, Emiliano Grillo (Arg) 70 70, Doc Redman 73 67, Russell Henley 71 69, Shane Lowry (Irl) 68 72, Robert Macintyre (Sco) 73 67, Billy Horschel 69 71, Kevin Kisner 67 73, Kurt Kitayama 68 72, Tom Hoge 72 68, Harris English 69 71, Cameron Smith (Aus) 71 69, Keith Mitchell 68 72, Jim Herman 71 69
141 Matt Wallace (Eng) 71 70, Sepp Straka (Aut) 70 71, Mark Hubbard 70 71, Byeong-Hun An (Kor) 72 69, Patrick Cantlay 73 68, Chez Reavie 71 70, Justin Thomas 71 70, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 71 70, Jordan Spieth 73 68, Luke List 72 69, JT Poston 67 74, Rory Sabbatini (Svk) 71 70, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 73 68, Sung Kang (Kor) 70 71, Bubba Watson 70 71, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 70 71, Phil Mickelson 72 69, Adam Long 73 68, Ian Poulter (Eng) 73 68, Mackenzie Hughes (Can) 73 68, Cameron Tringale 73 68

The following players missed the cut:

142 Carlos Ortiz (Mex) 72 70, Zach Johnson 66 76, Jason Dufner 70 72, Shaun Norris (Rsa) 69 73, Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) 72 70, Talor Gooch 71 71, Chan Kim 72 70, Jim Furyk 71 71, Marc Leishman (Aus) 70 72, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 72 70, Rickie Fowler 73 69, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 70 72
143 Steve Stricker 72 71, Jason Kokrak 69 74, Lucas Glover 71 72, Andrew Landry 74 69, Tom Lewis (Eng) 67 76, Matt Kuchar 71 72, Richy Werenski 71 72, Kevin Na 70 73, Lucas Herbert (Aus) 73 70, Michael Thompson 71 72, Xinjun Zhang (Chn) 72 71, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng) 72 71, Sebastian Munoz (Col) 71 72
144 Wyndham Clark 71 73, Alex Beach 73 71, Joaquin Niemann (Chi) 75 69, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai) 72 72, Scott Piercy 70 74, Sungjae Im (Kor) 73 71, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng) 74 70
145 Brian Stuard 72 73, Matt Jones (Aus) 70 75, Matthias Schwab (Aut) 69 76, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 74 71, Keegan Bradley 73 72, Max Homa 74 71, Troy Merritt 73 72, Tyler Duncan 74 71, Corey Conners (Can) 69 76, 146 Andrew Putnam 73 73, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 72 74, Sergio Garcia (Spa) 73 73, Ben Cook 71 75, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 75 71, Bob Sowards 71 75
147 Rob Labritz 71 76, Joohyung Kim (Kor) 70 77, Jimmy Walker 73 74, Danny Willett (Eng) 75 72, David Muttitt 72 75
148 Jason Caron 76 72, John O’Leary (Irl) 75 73, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 66 82, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa) 72 76
149 Mike Auterson 75 74, J.r. Roth 74 75, Shaun Micheel 72 77, Davis Love III 73 76, Nick Taylor (Can) 76 73
150 Marty Jertson 74 76, Ryan Vermeer 79 71, Rich Berberian Jr. 76 74, Daniel Balin 74 76
151 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 74 77, Ken Tanigawa 78 73, Shawn Warren 78 73
153 Justin Bertsch 78 75
154 Jeff Hart 77 77, Jorge Campillo (Spa) 74 80
155 Rich Beem 80 75
156 Rod Perry 75 81
157 Alex Knoll 77 80
161 Zachary J Johnson 82 79, Jordan Gibb (Eng) 77 84

Selected Saturday tee times

6pm: Tiger Woods, Keith Mitchell
6.10pm: Shane Lowry, Danny Lee
7.30pm: Rory McIlroy, Victor Perez
10.40pm: Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka
10.50pm: Daniel Berger, Jason Day
11pm: Tommy Fleetwood, Haotong Li

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