Defending Champion Day Becomes Birdie Machine On Back 9 And Trails By Only 2 Heading Into Moving Day

By Ann Liguori
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SPRINGFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The early rain on Friday morning took the teeth out of the course at Baltusrol Golf Club and made it ripe for scoring. And that’s exactly what the players did in the second round of the 98th PGA Championship.

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Robert Streb shot a 7-under-par 63, which tied the low round ever in a major. At 9 under overall, Streb finds himself tied for the lead with Jimmy Walker, two shots ahead of the rest of the field. Their 131 total through 36 holes also ties the best score in PGA Championship history.

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The 29-year-old Streb, who is ranked 74th in the world, is originally from Oklahoma and now lives in New Smryna Beach, Florida. Owner of one career win, the 2015 McGladrey Classic, and nine top 10 finishes on the PGA Tour, Streb said the idea going forward is to “try to do the same things we’ve been doing the last couple days, and hopefully, it’s good enough.”

Walker picked up where he left off in the first round. With the exception of a bogey on the final hole Friday, the 47-year-old Texan has been the tournament’s most consistent player.

Despite having struggled most of this season, Walker has found his putter on these greens, recording five birdies during the second round and 11 total. He has won five PGA Tour titles in his career, but before this week had never led in a major championship.

Emiliano Grillo, the 23-year-old from Argentina, and Jason Day are at 7-under heading into moving day. Starting on No. 10 on Friday, Grillo shot a 67, which included four birdies.

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Day went on a birdie barrage on the back, sinking seven in eight holes. The defending PGA champion was up and down on the front, including a double bogey on the 7th, but he looked like the top player in the world after that, draining birdies on 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, and 15. On 18, one of the two par-5 finishing holes, Day drilled a three wood 281 yards intoto the rough, pin-high. But ended up only parring the hole for his 65.

“I kind of gave myself a little kick in the bum, especially with the double bogey on 7,” Day said. “It was a bit of a mess out there. With that said, being able to come back and birdie 8 and 9 really made things a lot better for me on the back side. Just kept on setting myself up for opportunities.”

Streb and Walker will be looking for more separation on Saturday from a pack that includes British Open champion Henrik Stenson, who shot a second straight 67 and is three shots back. Former U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer, Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka are four behind, followed by Rickie Fowler (4 under) and Jordan Spieth (3 under), last year’s Masters and U.S. Open champion.

Phil Mickelson, the 2005 PGA winner who is coming off a second-place showing behind Stenson at Royal Troon, rallied to make the cut at 1 over after a crazy triple bogey on the first hole that included smacking his tee shot so far off line, it landed on a road. He took a drop and a penalty shot and zig-zagged his way from there.

“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,” quipped Mickelson, who rallied back with four birdies on his way to even-par 70.

With his putting still a mess, Rory McIlroy (3 over) missed the cut by one and reigning U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson was long gone after finished his 36 holes at 8 over.

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