Forget defending his PGA Championship title. Justin Thomas had to scramble on his final hole to simply make the cut at Oak Hill on Friday.
Two former PGA champions, Jason Day and Jimmy Walker are out.
So is Talor Gooch, whose failure to make the cut at 5-over 145 cost him a chance to earn a spot in the U.S. Open next month. Gooch is ranked 63rd in the world, with the U.S. Open inviting the top 60 after this week.
And leave it to Phil Mickelson to correctly predict he’d still be playing this weekend after a second-round score of 2-over 72 pushed his two-round total to 145.
The 156-man field was slashed to 76 players for the final two rounds.
Thomas, ranked 13th in the world, turned making the cut into an adventure. He was 4 over on the 18th tee and his drive landed in a fairway bunker. His first attempt caught the lip and stayed in the sand. He punched the ball within 95 yards of the hole on his second attempt and eventually made an 8-foot putt for bogey.
Jordan Spieth, ranked 10th in the world, also survived to make the cut on the number, getting up and down from a greenside bunker on 18.
Day’s tournament came to an end with a second-round score of 2-over, which included three double bogeys, to follow an opening round of 6-over. Day, the 2015 PGA champion at Whistling Straits, was coming off a win at the AT&T Byron Nelson, his first in five years.
Walker finished 9 over and Gary Woodland, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, also missed the cut at 8 over.
Of the 16 LIV Golf players in the field, Gooch was one of five to miss the cut, which included Brendan Steele, who finished at 6 over after missing a 7-foot par putt on his final hole.
Also missing the cut was Tom Kim, who finished 8 over through two rounds and is going home with some mud-caked memories. He went viral on Thursday for sinking waist-deep into the mud in a marshy area while attempting to retrieve his ball following an errant tee shot off No. 6.
EAS(IER) DOES IT?
Intermittent rain and little wind made the East Course play a tad easier in the second round than it did in sunnier and breezier conditions a day earlier.
The average score around the 7,394-yard, par-70 track was 72.821 on Friday, nearly a full shot lower than the 73.679 average on Thursday.
Six holes — Nos. 1, 2, 10, 13, 14 and 15 — played under par. Only the two holes — Nos. 4 and 14 — were under par in the opening round.
“I would say the rain made the golf course easier when you are executing,” said Scottie Scheffler, who had four birdies and two bogeys while shooting 68 and was tied with Corey Conners and Viktor Hovland for the lead at 5 under. “When you get out of position, I think it’s just as challenging, just because the rough is so wet.”
Rain was in the forecast for much of the day on Saturday, with temperatures expected to top out in the lower 60s.
Hovland is becoming as reliable as anyone in the majors. Now he just has to win one.
Hovland had a 67 and was tied for the lead going into the weekend. It’s his 10th consecutive round in a major in which he was among the top 10 on the leaderboard.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the longest such streak over the last 20 years came from Day, who had 12 consecutive rounds finishing among the top 10. That streak concluded with Day winning the PGA Championship.
LAST CLUB PRO STANDING
Michael Block is the only club pro out of 13 in the field to make the cut. He shot two straight even-par 70s.
The 46-year-old pro at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Southern California sits in a tie for 10th. He became just the third club professional to be among the top 10 on a PGA Championship leaderboard after 36 holes over the past 40 years.
The others were Buddy Whitten, who was tied for fourth in 1983, and Jay Overton, who was alone in second place in 1988.
Cameron Young was getting back into the mix until a mistake he didn’t learn about until after the fact.
Young, who contended in his first PGA Championship last year at Southern Hills, hit a beautiful lag from the back of the 16th green to about 3 feet. He marked his ball, then moved the marker the length of a putter head to the left to keep it out of Tommy Fleetwood’s line.
But then he forgot to put it back.
The miscue wasn’t discovered until several holes later. Young’s par became a double bogey. And then Young hit into the water left of the sixth green and made another double. It added to a 75 and Young missed his first cut since the Scottish Open last July.
Justin Rose — who was in a tie for eighth at 1-under 139 through two rounds — has an opportunity to become the first player from England to win the PGA Championship since Jim Barnes won the first two tournaments held in 1916 and ’19. “Smoke and mirrors,” Rose said of his even-par round that featured three birdies and three bogeys. ... Keegan Bradley was tied for 10th at even par and in contention to win his second major after winning the 2011 PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. Should Bradley win on Sunday, he will have gone 4,298 days between winning his first and second majors, which would set the record for the longest such span. Julius Boros went 4,062 days between winning his first two majors, the 1952 and 1963 U.S. Opens. He also won the PGA in 1968.
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