A true test of strategy over sheer power, Oak Hill Country Club’s East Course is currently the stage for the 105th PGA Championship. Providing an exciting battleground that requires a blend of accurate play and shrewd decision-making, the course has proven to be a formidable contender.
At the halfway stage of this renowned championship, three players emerged as the leaders, exhibiting exceptional play in critical areas. They are the world’s No. 2 golfer, Scottie Scheffler, who played masterfully through the steady drizzle to score a 2-under 68, Corey Conners from Canada, who matched Scheffler’s score, and Norway’s Viktor Hovland who pulled ahead with a 67, putting all three at 5-under 135 overall.
Despite their excellent performance, the trio and the rest of the 156-player field were undeniably tested on the greens of Oak Hill, with a meager nine golfers finishing below par as they head into the weekend.
Reflecting on his performance, Scheffler shared, “I believe I successfully persevered through today’s challenges”. The golfer, who has a track record of 11-of-13 successful scrambles in this championship, held the lead until a challenging par-4 18th hole. Despite the tough weather and wet rough, Scheffler managed to score 2 under, cementing his reputation for delivering steady, reliable performances on the golf course.
Meanwhile, Corey Conners from Listowel, Ontario, has garnered a significant following due to his geographical proximity to the championship’s location. His impressive round of 68 included three birdies and a solitary bogey, and his short game has been exemplary throughout the championship, ranking fifth in Strokes Gained: Putting after the first two rounds. Conners, chasing his first major title, stated, “The conditions were challenging, with some wind and rain. But I managed to keep the momentum going by making several key putts, which was crucial for today’s success.”
Adding to the colourful spectacle on the course was Viktor Hovland, who caught the eye not just with his vivid attire but his stellar performance too. Standing 11th in the world rankings, Hovland had four birdies against a single bogey and believes his recent practice on short game has significantly paid off.
Mid-afternoon rains at Oak Hill softened the greens but made playing from the rough more challenging. Nonetheless, Scheffler soldiered on, displaying commendable resilience by striking a difficult pitch at the 18th, keeping the momentum in his favour.
Justin Suh, who made a name for himself on the Korn Ferry Tour, and Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, are both hot on the leaders’ heels, occupying the fourth position after the second round.
The cut-off fell at 5-over 145 with Justin Thomas, Zach Johnson, and Jordan Spieth barely making the cut. Notably, Club Professional Michael Block managed to shoot a 70, entering the weekend tied for 10th, and proving to be one of the day’s most pleasant surprises.
With two more thrilling rounds left, the 105th PGA Championship at Oak Hill continues to be a true spectacle of strategy and perseverance.
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