Paramus – Brooks Koepka brilliantly ignited his quest for back-to-back victories after reeling off a trio of birdies on his closing three holes to storm into a share of the second round lead at the Northern Trust in New Jersey on Friday.
The newly minted PGA Championship winner recorded a six-under-par 65 to join countryman Jamie Lovemark (66) atop the leaderboard at 10 under par.
Meanwhile Lovemark boosted his hopes of a maiden PGA Tour victory thanks to five birdies in a six-hole stretch in the middle of his round on the Ridgewood Country Club course.
“The goal at the start of the week is to lead and to win it,” said Lovemark. “I‘m in great shape. Going to take tomorrow one step at a time and go from there.”
Koepka started the day at four under par and was still at four understanding on the 12th.
But he launched his charge after landing a 63-foot greenside bunker shot to just three feet for birdie.
The triple Major-winner then drew roars with a 322-yard drive on the par-five 13th. He then ripped a 311-yard 3-wood to 23 feet before holing-out for an eagle.
“When I hit that 3-wood, it all clicked,” Koepka said.
“I felt like I was finally able to release the golf club. I just tried to hit it as hard as I could, big draw. I aimed at the tree on the right and tried to draw it back to the flag. When I did that, everything started to click, other than the fat wedge shot on the next hole.”
Koepka‘s closing three birdies were from lengths of 11-foot, 10-feet and six-feet.
Australia‘s Adam Scott, bizarrely carrying two putters in his bag with one a standard-size putter and other a long-handled version, recorded the lowest round of the week in signing for a seven-under-par 64 to be in third place at nine under.
Scott has been practicing with the short putter since the recent WGC – Bridgestone Invitational, and while there is nothing in the Rules of Golf to say he cannot have two putters in his bag, he revealed he‘s only used it twice in now 14 rounds.
“The presence of the small putter in my bag has clearly scared the longer one into action,” Scott joked after recording just 26 putts.
World and leading FedEx Cup No 1 Dustin Johnson regrouped after starting his second round with a triple-bogey and then played his remaining 17 holes in four under, to be sharing fourth place on eight under with Bryson DeChambeau (66).
England‘s Tommy Fleetwood (68) is well-placed in sixth spot at seven under par.
Tiger Woods faced a near hour anxious wait before confirmation his scores of a pair of 71s was good enough to make the cut right on the level par mark.
American J.T. Poston had a bittersweet day, however, making a hole-in-one at the fifth but missing the cut after shooting 75.
Also missing the cut was the European Ryder Cup confirmed foursome of Open Champion, Francesco Molinari (72, 72), Sweden‘s Alex Noren (72, 72), England‘s Justin Rose (72, 74), and Spaniard Jon Rahm (75, 73).
Leading scores after second round of the USPGA Northern Trust Open at Ridgewood Country Club here Friday (USA unless stated, par-71):
132 – Jamie Lovemark 66-66, Brooks Koepka 67-65
133 – Adam Scott (AUS) 69-64
134 – Dustin Johnson 67-67, Bryson DeChambeau 68-66
135 – Sean O‘Hair 66-69, Kevin Tway 66-69, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 67-68, Ryan Palmer 68-67, Jhonattan Vegas (VEN)
136 – Peter Uihlein 68-68, Adam Hadwin (CAN) 71-65, Phil Mickelson 68-68, Patrick Cantlay 69-67, Tony Finau 69-67, Justin Thomas 69-67
137 – Chez Reavie 71-66, Jason Day (AUS) 71-65, Harold Varner 69, 68, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 71-66, Cameron Smith (AUS) 69-68, Webb Simpson 71-66, Nick Watney 69-68
142 – Tiger Woods 71-71