ST. LOUIS – Gary Woodland kept his 36-hole record at the PGA Championship and got some company in the record book.
Tony Finau capped one of the craziest rounds of his career and matched the PGA Championship record with 10 birdies, which at least allowed him to make the cut on the number. For everyone else who resumed the rain-delayed second round Saturday morning, it was all about staying close to the leader.
Woodland had a 4-under 66 on Friday morning to reach 130 for 36 holes, breaking the PGA record by one shot, tying the 36-hole record for all majors and giving him a one-shot lead over Kevin Kisner.
Rickie Fowler was the only player who made a run at him on the sponge-like fairways of Bellerive. Fowler resumed his second round by making birdie on the reachable par-4 11th hole, but he stalled from there and wound up with a 67.
He was at 8-under 132, along with two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka. Dustin Johnson led the group at 133 and was joined by Shane Lowry, who completed a 64 after the delay.
Defending champion Justin Thomas stayed in the game, and so did Tiger Woods.
Thomas, trying to join Woods as the only back-to-back winners of the PGA Championship since it changed to stroke play in 1958, ran off four birdies on the back nine for a 65 that left him in the group at 6-under 134.
“I’m in a lot better position than I was when I came out here this morning, which is great,” Thomas said. “There’s a lot of golf left on a very gettable golf course. But at the same time, it can show its teeth if you’re not driving it well.”
Woods got up-and-down from 69 yards for birdie on the par-5 eighth when he resumed, but his momentum was slowed at the start of the back nine when he twice missed par putts from about 5 feet, sandwiched around a birdie.
“That stemmed the momentum a little bit,” Woods said.
He picked up one last birdie when he reached the green in two on the 597-yard 17th hole and two-putted, sending him to a 66. It was his fourth round of 66 or better this year, including his third round at the British Open.
Still, he was six shots behind in a tie for 19th with plenty of power players in front of him.
“Guys are making birdie from everywhere,” Woods said. “Everyone is bunched. On top of that, if you hit the ball well enough, you’ll leave yourself in the right sections. There’s not a single putt out here that you’re afraid of.”
Koepka and Charl Schwartzel tied the PGA Championship record – previously set 14 times – of 63. One more record was set Saturday morning when the cut was at 140, breaking by one shot the lowest score to make the cut. It was 141 at Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001.
Woods was at the bottom end of the 24 players separated by six shots going into the final two rounds. The third round featured threesomes off both tees, meaning close to five-hour rounds on a course that feels even longer to walk because of the soggy conditions.
“I feel like I just played 27 holes, and I only played 11,” Thomas said.
Phil Mickelson played nine holes, and he won’t be playing any more. Lefty missed the cut for the first time this year, the second time in a row at the PGA Championship, and that means he won’t qualify for the Ryder Cup team for the first time since 1993, his first full year on the PGA Tour.
Mickelson had a 71 and missed the cut by four shots.
Jim Furyk will get four captain’s picks on Sept. 4, and Mickelson stands a good chance of being one of them. It might not bode as well for the others. Bryson DeChambeau three-putted his final hole, missing a 4-foot par putt on No. 9, to miss the cut by one shot. He was at No. 9 in the Ryder Cup standings. Matt Kuchar (No. 12) and Kyle Stanley (No. 14) also missed the cut.
Finau is No. 13 in the standings and gets two more rounds, though he certainly left an impression on Furyk, who played alongside him. Finau opened with five straight birdies, only to hit into the water and make triple bogey on No. 6. He bounced back with two more birdies, bogeyed the ninth and didn’t make a par until the 10th hole, and even then he had to make a 12-foot putt.
He had three more birdies on the back nine, finished with a bogey and it added to a 66. “It was still an emotional roller coaster in the second round,” Finau said. “A lot happened, but to post 10 birdies in a major championship is pretty special.”
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