Tour Championship: Brooks Koepka gets the better of East Lake for a second consecutive day

Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

Tour Championship: Brooks Koepka gets the better of East Lake for a second consecutive day

PGA Tour

Tour Championship: Brooks Koepka gets the better of East Lake for a second consecutive day

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ATLANTA – Seriously, no one can mess with Brooks Koepka.

For that matter, nothing bothers the guy. Been that way his entire life.

So when he drove into his parking spot ahead of Friday’s second round of the Tour Championship and saw a blown-up picture from his nude photo shoot for ESPN Magazine’s Body Issue plastered on the placard bearing his name, the world No. 1 didn’t bat an eye.

Nor did he think anything of seeing another print of the photo on the nameplate of his locker a few minutes later. He expected some form of razzing from his peers after the naked photos went viral Wednesday night, but the handiwork of Dustin Johnson did little to throw Koepka, who chuckled a bit in each instance.

The only thing that bothered Koepka was there were a bunch of cameras waiting for him in the parking lot to shoot the occasion. Ruined the moment, he said.

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That was about it. And it wasn’t that Johnson, his good friend, frequent workout partner and presently one notch below Koepka in the world rankings, was trying to get under his buddy’s skin by showing a lot of his skin. He was just having some fun with the printouts, for Johnson knows full well few things fluster Koepka.

Not even kryptonite would fell big bad Brooks. Neither has East Lake Golf Club, which was far from fun after a weather delay of 90 minutes significantly dropped temps and made the Bermuda rough stickier with the moisture.

Brooks Koepka and his caddie are reflected in a water hazard near the 18th hole during the second round of the Tour Championship. Photo: Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

Despite not being at his best, Koepka got the better of the course for the second consecutive day. With his second 3-under-par 67 of the week, Koepka moved to the top of the leaderboard in the race for the $15 million jackpot that goes to the victor. After birdies at 6, 7 and 8 and a par at 9 right before the horn blew, Koepka relied on his putter – he’s made 24 of 24 putts inside 5 feet this week – to make key par saves on the back nine. And he closed with a two-putt birdie on the last.

Through 36 holes, he’s at 13 under – remember, the staggered scoring format had him at 7 under before hitting a shot in the first round – and one shot ahead of 2017 FedExCup champion Justin Thomas and 2016 FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy. Two back is Xander Schauffele, the 2017 Tour Championship champ.

Koepka was one of only nine players among the 30 to break par.

“I feel good. The game is coming into form. I don’t feel like I’m clicking 100 percent, but it’s definitely close,” Koepka said. “I like this golf course, I love Bermuda, I grew up on it. I feel comfortable on it.”

Brooks Koepka offers one of his golf gloves to a young fan before teeing off on the 10th hole during the second round of the Tour Championship. Photo: Adam Hagy/USA TODAY Sports

He’s looked comfortable on most every type of grass for three years now. He’s the only three-time winner this season, among his victories the PGA Championship, his fourth major, and a WGC. He also finished second in the U.S. Open, tied for second in the Masters and tied for fourth in the British Open.

He’ll be the Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, joining Tiger Woods as the only players to accomplish that feat in the past quarter century.

“The lead’s always nice, so I’ll take that,” he said. “The rain delay kind of killed any momentum I had. I didn’t feel like I had any good golf shots after the rain delay, but that’s part of golf. Everybody’s got to deal with the same thing.

“Just didn’t execute.”

Other than the rain delay that stifled his mojo, Koepka was bothered by just a few tiny things in the second round.

“Just these flies that keep flying around my face,” he said. “It’s just annoying, but it doesn’t bug me. I’m good. When I get inside the ropes, nothing’s going to bother me.”

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