Li Haotong thrusts himself into the mix at US PGA

Graeme McDowell struggles to four over par second round at TPC Harding Park

Li Haotong during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship. Photograph: EPA

Li Haotong during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship. Photograph: EPA

 

China’s Li Haotong may not have been on anyone’s radar ahead of this week’s PGA Championship but he thrust himself into the mix with a bogey-free trip around TPC Harding Park on Friday to grab the early second-round clubhouse lead at the year’s first major.

Li, whose best finish in 2020 is a share of 18th place at the European Tour’s Oman Open in February, carded a five-under-par 65 in calm winds to reach eight under for the week, two shots clear of Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (64).

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell is six shots off the projected cut after a disappointing four over par second round. Teeing off on the 10th hole, he opened with a birdie before losing momentum with two bogeys in his next three holes.

Graeme McDowell during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. Photograph: Getty Images
Graeme McDowell during the second round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park. Photograph: Getty Images

A birdie on the 16th was followed by a double bogey on the par 4 18th hole. Back to back bogeys followed, before a birdie on the sixth and a seventh dropped shot on the seventh hole, leaving the Irishman six over par overall.

“I didn’t even think I could play like this this week,” said Li, who missed the cut at the Memorial Tournament in July and finished in a share of 75th place at last week’s World Golf Championships event in Memphis.

Li, in search of a maiden PGA Tour win, made a fast start to his second round with birdies at three of his first five holes, including a 22-footer at the par-four second, and then added another pair at the ninth and 10th holes.

Overnight co-leader Brendon Todd, even par through 16 holes, was three shots back of Li while Australian Jason Day, who also held a share of the first-round lead, just began his round. Cameron Champ, six under through 17, and Englishman Paul Casey, three under through 16 holes, were three back of Li.

Two-times defending champion Brooks Koepka, who was a shot back of the overnight co-leaders after the first round, and 15-times major champion Tiger Woods, who was a further two shots adrift, were also due out later in the afternoon wave.

Among some notable late starters who will try to make a second-round charge in the first major since the July 2019 British Open are world number one Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

McIlroy was at even par after the first round, Thomas was a further shot back and Spieth, who is looking to complete golf’s career Grand Slam this week, was three over and three shots outside the projected cut line.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.