Saturday, November 18, 2017
Golf

Jimmy Walker, Robert Streb (63) share PGA Championship lead

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SPRINGFIELD, N.J. — In a major championship season of endless theater, the PGA Championship lived up to its end of the bargain Friday.

Robert Streb led the way, even if hardly anyone noticed.

As thousands of fans crammed into the closing holes at Baltusrol to see if Jason Day could finish off his amazing run and Phil Mickelson could make it to the weekend, Streb hit a 6-iron into 20 feet on his final hole at the par-3 ninth for a shot at 63.

He made the birdie putt during a TV commercial break to go to 7 under for the day and make him the 28th player to shoot 63 in a major and the third in the past 16 days.

"It was pretty noisy for the 15 people that were out there," Streb said.

No matter where anyone was at Baltusrol, there was no shortage of entertainment.

Mickelson (70) hit his opening tee shot off the property, onto a side street and made triple bogey, then rallied to make the cut. Rory McIlroy (69) needed only to birdie the par-5 18th, the easiest hole on the course, to make the cut at 2 over. From the fairway, he made bogey and was headed home to figure out what was wrong with his putting.

Jordan Spieth zoomed up the leaderboard with a dazzling opening nine holes. But after some controversy following an errant tee shot that landed in a small puddle on the seventh, his momentum waned on his back nine. His 67 put him at 3 under.

British Open champion Henrik Stenson had a second straight 67 and was in third alone at 6 under. Rickie Fowler (68) finished birdie-eagle to get back into the picture at 4 under.

A second round that began in rain with one group given the wrong hole location on No. 10 ended with Streb and Jimmy Walker sharing the lead at 9-under 131 and becoming the eighth and ninth players to match the 36-hole record in the PGA Championship.

Walker had to settle for 4-under 66, right when he had the 36-hole record for all majors (130) within his reach with two par 5s remaining. But he hit into the hospitality area well left of the 17th and scrambled for par, and then his tee shot narrowly missed its mark and found the water on the 18th, leading to bogey.

Even so, he was tied at the halfway point of a major.

"It's going to be a new experience, and it will be fun," said Walker, 37, who had never lead a major until Thursday's first round. "You still have to go perform. Doesn't matter what tournament it is."

Streb hasn't had a top-10 finish on the PGA Tour since he tied for 10th in the PGA Championship last year. He found something in his swing a few weeks ago, birdied the last four holes a week ago Friday in the Canadian Open to make the cut and grabbed a sliver of history at Baltusrol.

His 63 was the 14th in PGA Championship history and for the third time gave the sport three rounds of 63 in majors in one season. It also happened in 1993 and 1980.

"Happy to join the club that seems to be ever growing," said Streb, a 29-year-old from Oklahoma whose lone PGA Tour victory has come came in the 2015 McGladrey Classic.

Day dropped to par with a double bogey on No. 7, and that appeared to wake up the world's No. 1 player. Day went on a tear with seven birdies over his next eight holes. He was on the verge of a shot at 63 until he hooked his tee shot to the base of the hospitality area on the 17th and pushed a driving iron into the right rough on 18. He settled for pars at both for 65.

Day was joined at 7 under by Emiliano Grillo, a talented 23-year-old Argentine who worked hard on his putting at Baltusrol and watched it pay off. Like Walker and Streb, he has never contended in a major.

Mickelson making the cut might have been the most entertaining. He began his round with a tee shot so far left that it sailed off the property, bounced along a road and caromed to the left down another. Wherever it ended up, it was out of bounds, and Mickelson had to scramble for a triple bogey.

"I think in the history of the PGA Championship, that's the worst start of any player's round. I'd have to look it up," Mickelson said. Someone pointed out that Nicolas Colsaerts piped two over the fence and made 8.

McIlroy struggled badly on the greens and missed making the cut by a stroke. This is the first time since 2010 he missed the cuts at two majors in a year. He also did it at the U.S. Open.

"I need to go back to the drawing board and see where we go from here," he said.

The Golf Channel contributed to this report.

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