Robert Streb posts record-tying 63, and Jimmy Walker also torches vulnerable Baltusrol to co-lead at PGA

Robert Streb and Jimmy Walker are your PGA Championship co-leaders at 9-under 131.

Robert Streb posts record-tying 63, and Jimmy Walker also torches vulnerable Baltusrol to co-lead at PGA

PGA Tour

Robert Streb posts record-tying 63, and Jimmy Walker also torches vulnerable Baltusrol to co-lead at PGA

By

SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – The rain stopped, play resumed and soft conditions left venerable Baltusrol vulnerable. No one took advantage more than Robert Streb, who shot a record-tying 7-under 63 to tie Jimmy Walker for the 36-hole lead at the PGA Championship, at 9-under 131.

Streb, 29, birdied three of his final four holes on the front side to record the 14th 63 in PGA Championship history, the 30th at a major and the fourth at Baltusrol (Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in 1980 and Thomas Bjorn in 2005).

“Glad to be part of the club,” Streb said. “It seems to be ever-growing.”

Walker, 37, reached double figures with his third birdie in a row at the 14th hole, but bogeyed the final hole to sign for 66 and settled for tying the PGA’s 36-hole scoring record with Streb.

“I saw what the weather was going to do and knew that it was going to be out there to play good,” Walker said.

Overnight storms and morning rain led to a 41-minute suspension of play at 8:15 a.m., and when play resumed the course was susceptible to a birdie barrage. (The scoring average of 70.68 was a full stroke lower than round one.) Streb and Walker had plenty of company in going low on Friday. Defending champion Jason Day trails by two after a 65. After a double bogey at the seventh, he birdied seven of his next eight holes while British Open champ Henrik Stenson pieced together his second straight 66. Three former major winners – Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson and Adam Scott – all shot in the 60s and are lurking at 3 under. Is Streb concerned over seeing some of the biggest names in the world in his rearview mirror?

“It’s a major,” he said. “One of those guys is going to be there. They are always there.”

After notching victories early last season, Streb and Walker both have struggled mightily and didn’t make anyone’s short list of favorites for the PGA. Streb doesn’t have a top-10 finish this season while Walker has just two, and none since March. Both are in unchartered territory at a major in pursuit of their first major. Lack of major success hasn’t hindered the first three major winners of 2016. For just the fifth time in the modern era of the Grand Slam, there exists a chance that all four majors in a single year will be won by first-time champions. It happened previously in 1959, 1969, 2003 and 2011.

So don’t count out Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, a 23-year-old Tour rookie, who shot a 67 to tie Day for third place.

“I am going to feel the nerves tomorrow, that’s for sure. Makes sense, but I’m going to enjoy it,” he said.

Someone who has been there, done that before is German Martin Kaymer. He shot his second straight round in the 60’s. The last two times that he has finished in the top 10 of a major, he’s won the title. He’s currently tied for sixth at 5 under with Americans Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka. Unlike the British Open, which turned into a two-man race on the weekend between Stenson and Phil Mickelson and a ‘B-Flight,’ the PGA figures to be a much tighter contest.

“We know it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Stenson said. “You’re not winning anything on a Thursday and a Friday, but you can put yourself in the wrong direction early days.”

The latter sums up what happened to Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, two of the longest hitters in golf and the pre-tournament favorites. Both packed their bags on Friday. Eighty-six players survived the cut at 2-over 142; none of the 20 competing PGA club professionals made the weekend.

For those still in the hunt, the marathon continues, but with only 36 holes remaining the race for the Wanamaker Trophy speeds up.

Walker, 37, reached double figures with his third birdie in a row at the 14th hole, but he bogeyed the final hole to sign for 66 and settled for tying the PGA’s 36-hole scoring record with Streb.

“I saw what the weather was going to do and knew that it was going to be out there to play good,” Walker said.

Overnight storms and morning rain led to a 41-minute suspension of play at 8:15 a.m., and when play resumed Baltusrol’s Lower Course was susceptible to a birdie barrage. (The scoring average of 70.68 was a full stroke lower than Round 1.) Streb and Walker had plenty of company in going low on Friday. Defending champion Jason Day trails by two after a 65. After a double bogey at the seventh, he birdied seven of his next eight holes. British Open champ Henrik Stenson pieced together his second straight 66. Three former major winners – Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson and Adam Scott – all shot in the 60s and are lurking at 3 under. Is Streb concerned about seeing some of the biggest names in the world in his rearview mirror?

“It’s a major,” he said. “One of those guys is going to be there. They are always there.”

After notching victories early last season, Streb and Walker have struggled mightily and didn’t make anyone’s short list of favorites for the PGA. Streb doesn’t have a top-10 finish this season, and Walker has just two, none since March. Both are in uncharted territory: in pursuit of a first major. Lack of major success hasn’t hindered the first three major winners of 2016. For just the fifth time in the modern era of the Grand Slam, there exists a chance that all four majors in a year will be won by first-time champions. It happened previously in 1959, 1969, 2003 and 2011.

So don’t count out Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, a 23-year-old Tour rookie who shot 67 to tie Day for third place.

“I am going to feel the nerves tomorrow, that’s for sure,” he said. “Makes sense, but I’m going to enjoy it.”

Someone who has been there, done that is German Martin Kaymer. He shot his second straight round in the 60s. The last two times that he has finished in the top 10 of a major, he won the title. He stands tied for sixth at 5 under with Americans Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka. Unlike the British Open, which turned into a two-man race on the weekend between Stenson and Phil Mickelson and a ‘B Flight,’ the PGA figures to be a much tighter contest.

“We know it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Stenson said. “You’re not winning anything on a Thursday and a Friday, but you can put yourself in the wrong direction early days.”

The latter sums up what happened to Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, two of the longest hitters in golf and the pre-tournament favorites. Both packed their bags on Friday. Eighty-six players survived the cut at 2-over 142; none of the 20 competing PGA club professionals made the weekend.

For those still in the hunt, the marathon continues, but with only 36 holes remaining the race for the Wanamaker Trophy speeds up.

Latest

More Golfweek
Home