Former Auburn star Jason Dufner cruised through the second round of the PGA Championship and ended with a course — and PGA — record when he carded a 7-under 63 on Friday. Dufner leads by two strokes over three players headed to the weekend.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Jason Dufner brightened up a dreary day with a charge up the PGA Championship leaderboard and a run at golf history, carding a 7-under 63 on Friday to match the best score for a round at a major.
Just hours after Webb Simpson thrilled the rain-soaked crowd with a 64, equalling the Oak Hill course record, Dufner went one better, becoming just the 24th player to shoot 63 at one of golf’s four major events.
The Auburn grad’s bogey-free round also shot the laid-back American to the top of the leaderboard with a two round total of nine-under 131, giving him a two shot advantage over Australia’s Adam Scott (68) and American pair Matt Kuchar (66) and Jim Furyk (68).
Britain’s U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (66) and Swede Henrik Stenson (66) will start today’s third round one stoke further back at 6-under.
Tiger Woods, stuck in a five-year major-victory drought, was unable to work his way up the leaderboard, scrapping to a level par 70 to sit 10 strokes behind the leader.
“It’s tough when you’re chasing history,” Dufner told reporters. “You will be the first one to do something. I don’t think I’ve been the first to do anything in my life.
“So it was a little nerve-wracking for a Friday. It’s usually the pressure you might feel towards the end of the tournament but I got through it. I made a couple of pars, and I wish I had that putt on the last hole back again.”
While the galleries were electrified by the 36-year-old’s composed and masterful display, Dufner was typically blasé, showing not a hint of emotion when his approach at the second spun back into the cup for an eagle or when his approach to the 18th landed 12-feet from the hole.
As Dufner walked onto the green sizing up the historic putt, the crowd fell quiet, then groaned when it slowly rolled to halt short of its target.
“Obviously had a fantastic day today in a major championship, chased a little bit of history,” said Dufner. “Came up a little short on that last putt but all-in-all I’m excited.”
As the rain disappeared and the sun began to peak out from behind the clouds, there was more drama unfolding with the late starters attacking a defenseless East course with gusto.
With the sun-setting, K.J. Choi was poised to challenge the record, reaching six-under for the round with two holes to play but a bogey at 17 ensured he signed for a 65.
The early starters were greeted by dark skies and pounding rain at stately Oak Hill Country Club but the soggy conditions could not prevent some of the contenders from getting off to hot starts.
Scott, the joint overnight leader alongside Furyk, teed off on the back nine in the worst of the conditions but the Masters champion was unbothered by the downpour, picking up a birdie on his opening hole.
“It was raining pretty hard on and off and the course was playing tough,” said Scott.
“So it was nice to get off to a good start while the tough conditions were out there and I managed to hang on.
“The course is obviously softening up and I’m sure some guys will take advantage of that but so far so good for two days.”
The heavy favorite coming into this week after romping to a seven-stroke victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday, Woods was unable to take advantage of the soft conditions.
“I made my share, I missed my share. Just the way it goes,” he said. “Obviously I’m going to have to put together a really good weekend.
“I’m going to have to do my job and shoot a good round.”
Defending champion Rory McIlroy (71), eager to turn his game around after a poor season by his standards, looked headed for an early exit until a late turnaround down the stretch.
The Northern Irishman’s play was as gloomy as the early weather until he roared back with four birdies over his final seven holes to get back to level par 140 for the tournament and make the three-over cut.
Plenty of big names, major winners and former-champions will, however, have the weekend off.
American Shaun Micheel, who won his one and only PGA title a decade ago with a shock victory the last time the PGA Championship was staged at Oak Hill, labored to back-to-back 76s to miss the cut by nine strokes.
Woody Austin paid a hefty price when he was penalised four strokes for carrying an extra club.
With his second round 75 the 49-year-old American finished on four-over 144 and if not for the penalty would have easily made the cut.
Former Masters champions Bubba Watson and South African Charl Schwartzel were among the big name casualties joined at the exit by double British Open winners Ernie Els and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, who also has a PGA Championship in his major collection.