2013 PGA Championship, Round 2 Summary
By Torleif Sorenson on 8/9/13

The second round of the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club is in the books and the 36-hole cut has fallen at four-over par 144. Along the way, one major champion and another golfer who is on the cusp of a major made some history on Oak Hill's East Course on Friday — thanks in part to some predicted morning rain.

Simp-ly Solid

2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson wrote himself a little Oak Hill history by following up Thursday's frustrating 72 with a course record-tying 64. Dented only by a bogey at the 7th, Simpson got birdies in bunches — at 2 and 3, then at 5 and 6, at 10 and 11, then another at the short par-4 14th.
"I made the turn — I'm still trying to make the cut. It's amazing how a day like today, you go from outside the cut line, to just in, to going for the all-time major record. It's a big swing of emotions. But the mind is powerful, so I was just trying to not think about it and just stay kind of in my rhythm."
It worked, although Simpson was aided by the withdrawal of Angel Cabrera with a wrist injury after 11 holes.

The only problem for Simpson was that, a few hours later, his record-tying birdie binge got eclipsed.

Cleveland Rocks

Jason Dufner calmly (as he always does) roared out of the gate by holing a 105-yard sand wedge second shot on the par-4 2nd hole for eagle. At the par-5 4th, he sank a 35-foot bomb for birdie that got him to -3 on the day. At the 5th, he sank a 15-footer for another birdie, then jaw-droppingly saved par at the 7th with a 50-footer.

"This is nuts!" said announcer Verne Lundquist when he saw the putt drop.

At the par-3 11th, Dufner took advantage of the soft greens by sticking the landing on his tee-shot, then calmly dropping the 7-footer — his sixth one-putt of the afternoon. At the par-5 13th, Dufner hit another wedge to seven feet and calmly stroked it home for the lead. At the 16th, same story: A wedge second to five feet. Birdie.

So when Dufner hit his second to the par-4 18th, he was on the cusp of major championship history when he lashed one to about ten feet below the hole — but left his birdie attempt for a 62 two feet short. Still, his 63 put him in a solo lead and tied 23 other golfers for the lowest score in a men's major.

Oh, by the way, Dufner's 63 is the new record on Oak Hill's East Course. At least he actually smiled about it during an interview afterward. You probably would, too, if you had taken just 26 putts and hit 15 GIR at a major:
"I obviously had a fantastic day today in a major championship, chased a little bit of history. Came up a little short on that last putt, but all in all I'm excited. The position I'm in, the golf course has obviously yielded some low scores and I'm looking forward to continuing good play here on the weekend."
What is special for Dufner is that he not only eclipsed Simpson and Curtis Strange for the course record, but also his boyhood hero — the late, great Ben Hogan.
"I've been a great follower of Mr. Hogan and everything that he's done. We played at Merion this year for the first time; I was so excited to be there. Dating back to when he won the U.S. Open there and all the history and the plaque there; and then to come to a great course like Oak Hill where he holds the course record and has played numerous rounds here, had great relationships with the Harmons; and to knock his course record off is kind of a tip of my cap to him, and it will be definitely something that I can always look back on when I'm finished playing that I accomplished."
Back to the here and now, Dufner's 63 puts him two shots ahead of Adam Scott (68 on Friday), Matt Kuchar (66 on Friday), and Jim Furyk, who followed up his outstanding Thursday 65 with a 68 that included only one bogey at the par-5-turned-into-a-par-4 17th hole.

For Furyk, being tied for second after 36 holes is a breath of fresh air — especially when you consider that he missed the cut at both the U.S. Open at Merion and the Open Championship at Muirfield.
"I have got some confidence built up from the last couple of weeks in the last two events, finishing in the top-10. Although maybe I wasn't firing on all cylinders and maybe I wasn't striking the ball as good as I was yesterday, it gives me a lot of confidence."

A Rose (not) By Any Other Name

Just one shot back of Furyk et al is the current U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose, who had a manic-depressive second round. Or perhaps I should say, a depressive-manic round.

Starting on the 10th tee on Friday, Rose stumbled through his first nine holes in 37, but then devoured Oak Hill's opening nine like Ted Kennedy at an open bar. On the first hole, Rose regathered his smooth swing and reeled off three birdies, including nearly holing out on the 2nd hole for an eagle (shades of Dufner!). His four-inch sneeze-in putt got him back to level par for the day. At the 5th hole, Rose dodged a bullet when his tee-shot, heading toward the water, conked off a tree branch and rebounded back into the fairway. Rose then stuck his approach to about eight feet and got the unlikely birdie. Following another birdie at the 8th, Rose dropped his approach to three feet at the 9th green... and sank the putt.

He played holes 1-9 in 29.
"I feel like my game suits the tougher golf courses."
Ummm... yeah. Slightly.

The rest of the top ten

Rose and Stenson are tied for fifth, three back at 134. Robert Garrigus went 67-68 to tie for seventh with Steve Stricker, while the aforementioned Simpson, Martin Kaymer, Charley Hoffman, and Australia's Marcus Fraser are tied for ninth, five shots back at 136. Sergio Garcia and Roberto Castro are tied for 13th at 137, both having shot under par the first two days. Whether either of them can make a big move on moving day, we'll find out on Saturday.

Ah... I Coulda Been A Contendah...

Making the cut, but 10 and 11 shots adrift, respectively, are Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Following a smashing victory at Firestone last week that included a 61, Woods has, quite curiously, gone 71-70 at Oak Hill. At ten back, the statistical probability is not good — especially with sunny skies and drier conditions forecast for the weekend, and two three-putts on his Friday scorecard.
"Obviously I'm going to have to put together a really good weekend. This golf course is pretty soft. It's definitely gettable. Got to hit the ball in play and keep the ball near the hole so I can be aggressive with my putts."
Also making the cut, but nine shots back of the lead, is last year's PGA Champion, Rory McIlroy. Given that he missed the cut at Muirfield, this is good news, but Rors needs to roar this weekend if he wants to salvage something good out of his 2013 golf season.

Saturday's weather

Both Saturday and Sunday are predicted to be sunny with high temperatures in the mid-70s, with winds of no more than 11 m.p.h.

On television

On both Saturday and Sunday, TNT on cable will televise from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. EDT, then at 2 p.m., CBS Sports will take the air until 7:00 p.m.

For those of you Time Warner Cable subscribers in America's largest cities without any alternate way of receiving your local CBS affiliate, online streaming will be available at PGA.com.

Image via Wikipedia

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