There are manually operated scoreboards with plastic numbers and letters on every hole of the PGA Championship. Most are small enough that they can only accommodate seven players at any one time.
Charl Schwartzel, the South African champion of the 2011 Masters, matched the PGA record Friday morning by shooting 7-under-par 63 at Bellerive Country Club to get into a tie for fourth, and the volunteers never bothered to put him on the board.
This is a tough crowd, tearing up an extraordinarily easy golf course for a major championship.
Before an afternoon thunderstorm halted play for the day and dumped rain on the course, Brooks Koepka joined Schwartzel in scoring 63, and he couldn’t get into the lead, or even second place.
Remember, it was Koepka who won his second straight U.S. Open back in June at Shinnecock Hills — at 1 over for the tournament.
The top spot at Bellerive again belonged to Gary Woodland, who recorded a 4-under 66 that put him at 10 under, one shot clear of Kevin Kisner, who shot 64 in the second round.
For those keeping score at home, that’s four scorecards of 63 or 64 in the first two rounds. The pair of 63s were the 14th and 15th in the 60-year stroke-play era of the PGA, and never had two been notched on the same day.
Another milestone: Woodland’s 36-hole total of 130 is the lowest in PGA history, beating out nine players who got to 131.
Woodland is on pace for a 260 total. The all-time lowest 72-hole PGA Championship score is David Toms’ 265 in 2001 at Atlanta Athletic Club, while Jason Day’s 20-under 268 in 2015 at Whistling Straits is the lowest in relation to par.
“I’m happy with where I’m at,” Woodland said. “I’m very comfortable with how I’m driving the ball. The iron game, the distance control has been phenomenal. And when I stand over a golf ball putting … as comfortable as I am right now, I’m pretty excited.”
Half the field was still on the course when play was halted, forcing the players to return at 7 a.m. CDT to resume the second round. The third round was scheduled to be played in threesomes, with golfers going off the first and 10th tees.
Among those still grinding was Tiger Woods, who was 3-under for the round through seven holes and inside the projected cut of even par.
The leaders are loving how they’re playing, of course, without making much noise about how easy the course is — lest the PGA break out windmills and volcanoes overnight. As it is, PGA setup man Kerry Haigh pushed the flagsticks on many holes as close to the edges as possible to attempt some defense.
“It’s a bomber’s paradise. It’s a ball striker’s golf course,” said Justin Rose, who was uncertain he would play this week with a bad back, but has fared just fine in getting to 4 under overall.
“Because it’s soft, I think obviously the pins are really, really tucked today,” he said. “So if you drive it really well, then you could have wedges to be aggressive into those corners of the greens. … Fresher greens this morning, guys were able to make some of those mid-range putts.
“I felt like the scoring was going to be a bit more indicative today. The start of the week I felt like this was a 20-under-par golf course. It looks like we’re kind of edging in that direction. Some rain this afternoon, yeah, you need this course to firm up pretty quickly for scoring to dramatically change.”
Not everyone is happy, of course.
Jordan Spieth, who came into the week with a chance to complete the career Grand Slam, seemed out of sorts from his opening double bogey Thursday, and he wasn’t complimentary of Bellerive, even after a second-round 66.
“A little frustrated at this place, in general,” Spieth said. “I think that it’s tough to come to a venue with bent-grass greens and this kind of weather. This course probably is phenomenal if it’s not playing so soft. … You can just fire in and get away with more, like you don’t have to be precise.”
The leaderboard is not without appeal, however. Beyond Woodland and Kisner, who are trying to win their first majors at the age of 34, those among the top 15 who had finished included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson (66, 7-under total), and fellow major winners Schwartzel (7 under), Adam Scott (65, 5 under) and newly crowned British Open champion Francesco Molinari (67, 5 under).
Woodland and Kisner were paired together, and obviously fed off each other’s play. They combined to make 11 birdies and an eagle in the second round.
“Gary and I are good buddies, had a great time, and if I could only hit it as far as he could, it would be a different game,” said Kisner.
Still, Kisner shot 29 on the front nine with six birdies.
“The greens are receptive, so my 4-iron stops as quick as (Woodland’s) 7-iron,” Kisner said. “If they were firm, I don’t think I would have a chance with the way the greens are situated and the places their putting the flags. But being receptive — that’s my only hope.”
Woodland, feeling very comfortable on the zoysia grass fairways he grew up on in Kansas, got to his score in a more overpowering way.
At the 597-yard, par-5 17th, he cut a second-shot 3-wood to a far right pin and stopped the ball at 5 feet to convert an eagle.
Koepka, who opened the tournament with a 69, birdied his first three holes and made seven total without suffering a bogey in scoring 63. Finishing his round on the front nine, Koepka had a 22-foot birdie putt to set the tournament record, though he said he wasn’t aware of that.
“I just was trying to make the thing and I really thought I made it,” Koepka said. “My caddie said something (about the record). Rickie (Fowler) said something walking off on 18. I didn’t even think of it. I’ve been so in the zone you don’t know where you are.”
Also with a chance to get to 62, Schwartzel lamented that he didn’t birdie the par-5 17th when he had a 25-foot birdie chance, but noted that he made a 2 from 7 feet at the difficult, 237-yard 16th.
“In the practice rounds, I thought you’ve got a good chance of shooting a low score,” Schwartzel said. “I was hitting a lot of drivers. If you’re hitting it down in the fairway, with the way the greens are designed, you can get the ball to about 15 feet on almost every hole. … I just feel like you can have lots of chances around here.”
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4:30 p.m.: This article was updated with additional information and quotes.
3:50 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect play being suspended for the day.
Noon: Original publication time.