The uphill putt just didn’t have enough steam, stopping a foot short of the cup.
That’s how close Jason Dufner came to setting the record for the lowest round ever in a major golf tournament. Missing birdie at No. 18 was a rare disappointment in his otherwise exceptional afternoon at the PGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y.
Dufner walked away with a 63 –- making him the 24th player to shoot that low in a major –- and held the clubhouse lead with a 9-under at Oak Hills Country Club.
The poker-faced Ohioan shrugged it off, saying: “I’m just happy to be in this position going into the weekend.”
Not that he could feel too relaxed.
The trio of Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott and Jim Furyk stood two strokes behind him at 7-under. Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Marcus Fraser were three strokes back.
“The guys in the afternoon were able to take advantage of some soft conditions and make some birdies,” said Kuchar, who finished with a round of 66.
All those low scores figured to put the cut line at 3-over by day’s end. The likes of Tiger Woods (even), Phil Mickelson (2-over) and Brandt Snedeker (3-over) seemed likely to survive.
As for Dufner, he settled for the competitive course record at Oak Hill, moving past Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange and Webb Simpson, who had tied the previous mark of 64 earlier on Friday.
Still, he couldn’t help thinking about that last putt.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I showed a little bit of nerves there, leaving it short.”
[Update, 4 p.m.: The buzz at Oak Hill eventually quieted – the fans done with their chants of “63! 63!” – and there wasn’t much excitement left.
Robert Garrigus, a leader at one point, dropped to 5-under. Woods bogeyed No. 18 but still made his way to the weekend at 1-over.
Dustin Johnson made birdie on No. 17 to reach the cut number of 3-over. Bubba Watson and Davis Love III weren’t as fortuante. Neither was Charl Schwartzel, slipping with two bogeys at the end to finish at 4-over.
Adam Rose left the premises with a warning: “The course will show its teeth at some point this week. The greens will get firm and fast, especially by Sunday, and Oak Hill will always need to be respected, that's for sure.”]
Jason Dufner takes the lead | 2:08 p.m.
Heading into Friday’s play at the PGA Championship, standing at a respectable but unspectacular 2-under par, Jason Dufner was asked about what he hoped to accomplish in the second round.
“Just keep doing what I’m doing,” he said.
It would be fair to suggest the Ohio native has missed that particular mark.
Instead of holding the status quo, Dufner has torched a soggy Oak Hill Country Club through 16 holes, playing seven strokes better than par for the day and holding the lead at 9-under.
Dufner began his charge with an eagle at No. 2, followed by birdies at Nos. 4 and 5. The back nine has proceeded just as well. At No. 13, he put a good stroke on a medium-distance putt to give himself separation from the pack.
Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk all stood at 7-under.
Though Dufner has yet to win on the PGA Tour this season, he managed ties for fourth at the U.S. Open and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last week. Those were encouraging signs for one of those very good players who has yet to win a major.
“I think I’ve just got to keep plugging away and playing,” he said. “With the pressure of trying to win a major, it's obviously difficult.”
Just as tough, the leader is being chased by some talented rivals, with the likes of Robert Garrigus, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Webb Simpson within a few strokes.
Tiger Woods struggled around the turn, dropping to 1-over after 11 holes.
Tiger Woods moves back to even par | 1:04 p.m.
The fashionable color of the day at Oak Hill Country Club?
That would be red.
The leaderboard is filled with players shooting low numbers for the second round, making the PGA Championship look something more like the Greater Milwaukee Open.
Just look at the three golfers tied for first at 7-under. Jason Dufner was shooting five strokes better than par through 11 holes. Robert Garrigus was 4-under for the day through 13 and Adam Scott was almost as sharp with his round.
Of course, Webb Simpson set the stage early by tying the competitive course record with a 64. Even Tiger Woods was getting in the act, making birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 to pull himself back to even for the tournament.
The weather provided a perfect recipe for all those red numbers, with rain soaking the greens and gray skies brightening to sun as the hours passed.
“The course is obviously softening up, and I'm sure some guys will take advantage of that,” Scott said.
The only player who couldn’t make good on the conditions was Woody Austin, who talked about the four-stroke penalty he incurred for carrying 15 clubs in his bag -- one more than allowed.
“Can't say I was angry, because it was more ... I don't know, it was more of a shock, so you're kind of like pretty bummed,” he said. “That's the first time I've ever done something like that. Now all I've got to do is figure out how to get DQ'd.”
Webb Simpson talks about his great round (Noon update)
What a difference a day can make.
During the opening round of the PGA Championship, Webb Simpson found himself at 5-over through eight holes. Not a good place.
“It was a pretty low moment for me,” Simpson said. “But I kind of had a pep talk with myself.”
Which made Friday’s second-round performance all the more enjoyable, with Simpson shooting 64 to tie a competitive course record at Oak Hill Country Club. He now goes in the record book beside Ben Hogan in 1942 and Curtis Strange at the 1982 U.S. Open.
His sparkling play brightened an otherwise gloomy, wet morning in Rochester, N.Y.
“Rain does make it a little harder to hit good shots ... because you have so much to deal with, towels and wet gloves and wet grips, it’s a lot harder work,” Simpson said. “But at the same time, it softened the greens up enough to where our approach shots, we could be more aggressive.”
And that was enough to put him on the leaderboard at 4-under under brightening afternoon skies.
With the later groups teeing off, Robert Garrigus stood in first at 8-under with a charge through the front nine. Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Jim Furyk highlighted a cluster of players within two strokes of the lead.
“The first 12 holes were very tough to play,” said Martin Kaymer, who shot a 68 to finish the second round at 4-under. “It plays very long, the golf course, now. You know, the greens were fantastic in the morning, so that is a positive about today.”
Things were not looking as rosy for Tiger Woods as he had to scramble for par on No. 1 and bogeyed the second hole to drop to 2-over, right around the projected cut line.
Scott predicted that the greens should remain soft over the next few days, which offers the chance for players to make a move.
“It’s probably going to be right there for the taking through the weekend,” he said.
Webb Simpson misses course record by one shot (11 a.m. update)
Webb Simpson finished with a 64, one shot above the course record. “Nothing was easy,” Simpson said. “I made a few putts but I still felt I left some out there."
Robert Garrigus has birdied his first two holes of the day to draw within two shots of Adam Scott’s seven-under lead. But there is plenty of golf left for Garrigus, whose best major finish was a tie for third at the 2011 U.S. Open.
Phil Mickelson finished the first two round at two-over. The projected cut is two-over.
Rory McIlroy, the defending champion, finished the two days at even par, seemingly safe for the weekend. His 71 Friday goes with a 69 from Thursday. “The golf course is playing very, very long,” McIlroy said. “It’s very difficult to play from the rough.”
Leader Adam Scott is the leader in the clubhouse at seven-under.
He said he needs to get off to a fast start Saturday unlike Friday when he had a 37 on his first nine. “If I was hot with the putter it could have been better,” Scott said of Friday's round. “The course was playing very long when it was raining so a 68 was a good round.”
Justin Rose, who shot a 66 and is six-under after 36 holes, said: “I was trying to hang on for dear life on the first nine. I played the 18th hole [his ninth] in a torrential downpour. After the rain stopped, it was an easy game all of a sudden."
Mickelson said the course, even with the rain, was fair. “Unfortunately my game is not sharp enough to attack it,” he said. “I hit a lot better tee shots and my draw is pretty good but I’m not sharp on the greens. I’m constantly overreading them.”
Webb Simpson has chance at course record (11 a.m.)
On the par-five fourth hole, leader Adam Scott and Phil Mickelson sent their second shots into the rough. Mickelson had to settle for a par-five, and so did Scott and Justin Rose.
Meanwhile, Webb Simpson keeps making birdies. He got to seven-under for the day and five-under through the tournament, just two shots behind Scott with three holes left, before bogeying the 16th hole to fall three back. He still has a shot at the course record of 63 if he can finish with a birdie and a par in some order.
David Hearn, the Canadian who was a shot out of the lead after the first round, is set to tee off any moment, and Jim Furyk, who was tied with Scott for the lead, is still over 40 minutes from beginning his second round.
Rose birdied the par-four fifth hole (his 14th) to get to four-under and stay three shots behind leader Scott and tied for third.
Tiger Woods is on the practice putting green, getting ready for his 10:45 a.m. PDT tee-off.
Scott took a three-shot lead with a birdie on the par-three sixth hole to get to eight-under (it’s Scott’s 15th hole). He’s eight-under for the tournament and has a three-shot lead over Lee Westwood. Mickelson is still one-over for the tournament.
Adam Scott maintains his lead (9 a.m. update)
Adam Scott continues to play well, at one point moving to eight-under for the tournament before a bogey dropped him back to seven-under, putting him two shots ahead of Jim Furyk, who has yet to tee off in the second round, and Webb Simpson, who is an amazing seven-under so far on Friday.
German Martin Kaymer is also making a move, two-under through 12, and is at four-under overall. At just about the same time, Lee Westwood dropped a shot to also be at four-under.
Justin Rose birdied three holes in a row to get to one-under for the day and three-under for the tournament.
Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open winner, was five-under through 12 holes Friday and moved to one-under for the tournament.
The crazy news of the day: Woody Austin had 15 clubs in his bag, more than allowed, and was assessed a four-stroke penalty.
Phil Mickelson had a tough time on the par-three third hole. His drive, hit with a four-iron, soared way right, off a cart path and over the gallery. Mickelson got relief because the bleachers were in the way, giving him a free drop and a better shot at the green.
Mickelson tipped his cap as he left his second shot about eight feet from the hole. He made his par putt and is even for the day, one-over for the tournament.
Adam Scott sets the early pace (8 a.m. update)
The second round of the 2013 PGA Championship is underway in Rochester, N.Y. Jim Furyk and Adam Scott were tied for the lead at five-under par after the first round and Scott, who teed off early on Friday, is two-under after six holes, moving him to seven-under for the tournament and into first place by himself.
The talk after the first round, however, was Furyk, who is trying to find some old magic in his golf bag. He hasn't won a major since the 2003 U.S. Open but continues his quest for this year's PGA title when he tees off at 9:50 a.m. PT Friday.
"No one is surprised to see Jim Furyk on top of any leaderboard," said Keegan Bradley, who was one-under after the first round.
Former world No. 1 Lee Westwood is two-under through nine holes Friday, moving him to six-under and into second place.
Tiger Woods, who had a disappointing first round of one-over 71, tees off at 10:45 a.m.
Phil Mickelson, who also had a first-round 71, is one-under through six holes Friday and at even par for the tournament.