Virtual PGA Championship Round 2: The past vs. the present

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Brooks Koepka plays a shot on the eighth hole during the first round of The PLAYERS at the TPC Stadium course on March 12, 2020 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Brooks Koepka plays a shot on the eighth hole during the first round of The PLAYERS at the TPC Stadium course on March 12, 2020 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Walter Hagen holds his three-shot lead at the virtual PGA Championship, but Brooks Koepka is coming up fast.

The virtual 2020 PGA Championship may be shaping up as a fight between the past and the present.

Halfway through the 72-hole event featuring 68 greats of PGA Championship history, five-time champion Walter Hagen enhanced his position with a second-round 67. Following his opening 63, that gives 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, and 1927 champion a 36-hole score of 14-under-par 130.

But Hagen heads into the weekend being chased by the most contemporary player in the field. Brooks Koepka, the 2018 and 2019 champion, fired a-under 66 in Friday’s simulated round to move into second place at 11-under 133, three strokes behind Hagen.

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Denny Shute and Leo Diegel, champions from the 1930s and 1920s, are third and fourth, at -10 and -9 respectively. A group of four at eight-under 136 is led by Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer. Snead shot his second straight 68 while Palmer followed his opening 69 with a Friday 67.

Not much farther back loomed the major shadow of four-time PGA champion Tiger Woods. Following a lackluster Thursday 76, Woods got his fuse lit Friday with a back nine 31 for a 65, equaling the day’s low round. That jumped him 41 places in the standings from a tie for 58th to a tie for 17th.

Unless Hagen hits the skids this weekend, Woods faces an uphill fight to get back into title contention. He trails by 11 shots. He is, however, just three shots out of the top 10 entering play Saturday.

Hagen did little to give those trying to catch him any reason for hope Friday. While not replicating his opening round, which featured seven birdies and an eagle, Hagen delivered a steady performance with six birdies offset by a single bogey. That bogey, his first of the tournament, didn’t come until the 15th hole.

Koepka begins play Saturday in the best position to haul down Hagen. Coming off an opening 67 of his own, the defending champion of the actual PGA birdied the second, third and fourth holes to move within three strokes of the leader.

Most of the rest of Koepka’s round involved standing in place. Between the fifth and 13th holes he offset three birdies with an equal number of bogeys to fall six behind the leader. But he rallied with three birdies on the final five holes, including the 17th and 18th. Hagen, meanwhile, played nothing better than steady par golf, allowing Koepka to creep back within three.

The surprise of the round was probably 1947 champion Jim Ferrier, who leaped from the obscurity of an opening 72 all the way to ninth place, although still seven behind Hagen.

Playing before most of the leaders were on the course, Ferrier birdied the 183-yard par 3 third and eagled the 606-yard par-five fourth. Another eagle at the 562-yard par-five 10th swept him to five under on the day and for the tournament. When Ferrier followed that with birdies at the 11th and 12th, he stood at seven-under and temporarily in third place.

He finished at that number, just one stroke behind Snead, Palmer, 1953 champion Walter Burkemo and 1934, 1938 champion Paul Runyan.

A few other prominent names failed to ignite Friday and appear to be playing out the string. Pre-tournament favorite Byron Nelson loomed most prominently on that list. Nelson, who opened with a 71, managed only a 77 Friday to fall to four-over for the tournament, he is tied for 54th, 18 strokes behind Hagen.

Nelson’s round was already going nowhere when he encountered disaster on the final hole, a 468-yard par 4. To that point he had offset a pair of early birdies with a bogey and a double, the latter coming at the short par 5 12th.

Then on the 18th, Nelson badly hooked his drive into mud bordering the lake that runs up the hole’s left side. Taking an unplayable lie, his third shot struck a tree trunk and caromed back into the lake. The result: a quadruple-bogey eight that took him from one-over to five-over for the day.

Jack Nicklaus bounced back slightly from his one-over 73 of Thursday. Nicklaus shot a 69 Friday and stands tied for 22nd at 142, a dozen shots out of the lead.

The two closest challengers to Hagen after Thursday’s play both fell back Friday. Jerry Barber, coming off an opening 66, shot 74 and fell to four-under for the tournament. He is tied for 14th. Jack Burke Jr. followed his 66 with a 76 Friday and dropped to two-under. That left him in a massive 11-way tie for 22nd with, among others, Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson.

Following a difficult opening round in which players averaged over par, scoring picked up Friday. The field average was 71.6, nearly a half stroke below the par of 72. At 65, Ferrier and Woods led 34 under-par rounds, with just 30 players under par.

Here are the cards of the three leaders plus other notables in the field:

Hole                       1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9    10 11 12   13 14 15   16 17 18    Total

Par                         4 4 3   5 4 4   4 3 5      5   3   5      4   4    4     4   3   4      — 72

Hagen                   3 3 3   5 4 3   4 2 5      5   3   5      3   4   5      4   2   4      — 67

Koepka                 4 3 2   4 4 3   3 3 4      6   2   5      5   3   4      4   2   3      –66

Shute                    4 3 3   3 4 3   4 4 5      5   2   5      3   4   4      4   4   3      –67

Ferrier                  4 4 2   3 5 3   5 2 5      3   2   4      4   3   5      4   2   5      –65

Woods                  4 4 2   4 4 4   4 3 5      4   2   5      3    0   0      3   3   3     –65

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Make sure to check back tomorrow to see how things have changed after the third round. Until then, check out the rest of the scores for everyone who is in the field at the virtual PGA Championship.

Here is a full list of 36-hole scores.

Player                                   1-2-Total

Walter Hagen                    63-67-130

Brooks Koepka                  67-66-133

Denny Shute                      67-67-134

Leo Diegel                           68-67-135

Sam Snead                          68-68-136

Paul Runyan                       67-69-136

Arnold Palmer                   69-67-136

Walter Burkemo               68-68-136

Jim Ferrier                           72-65-137

Doug Ford                           69-69-138

Gary Player                         67-72-139

Steve Elkington                 72-67-139

Don January                       69-70-139

Chick Harbert                     70-70-140

Jerry Barber                       66-74-140

Jason Day                            67-74-141

Tommy Armour                 68-73-141

Tiger Woods                       76-65-141

Ben Hogan                          70-71-141

Jay Hebert                          71-70-141

Ray Floyd                            70-71-141

Jack Burke Jr.                     66-76-142

Jim Barnes                         70-72-142

Davis Love III                     73-69-142

Phil Mickelson                  75-67-142

Bobby Nichols                  74-68-142

Jack Nicklaus                     73-69-142

Julius Boros                       72-70-142

Vijay Singh                         73-69-142

David Graham                   71-71-142

Jeff Sluman                        72-70-142

Gene Sarazen                    71-71-142

Vic Ghezzi                           69-74-143

Nick Price                            70-73-143

Dow Finsterwald              75-68-143

Dave Stockton                   74-69-143

Jim Turnesa                        70-73-143

Al Geiberger                      74-70-144

Jason Dufner                     69-76-145

Larry Nelson                      74-71-145

Lee Trevino                        72-73-145

Rich Beem                          72-74-146

Jimmy Walker                    71-75-146

Chandler Harper               72-74-146

Hal Sutton                           74-72-146

Henry Picard                      73-73-146

Padraig Harrington          76-70-146

Rory McIlroy                      75-71-146

Payne Stewart                  75-71-146

Bob Tway                            73-74-147

Bob Hamilton                     73-74-147

John Mahaffey                 78-69-147

Lionel Hebert                     73-74-147

Byron Nelson                     71-77-148

David Toms                         70-78-148

Keegan Bradley                 72-76-148

Bob Rosburg                      75-73-148

Martin Kaymer                  75-73-148

Hubert Green                    73-76-149

Wayne Grady                    77-73-150

John Daly                             79-72-151

Dave Marr                           74-77-151

Y E Yang                               78-74-152

Paul Azinger                       77-76-154

Johnny Revolta                 77-77-154

Mark Brooks                      79-75-154

Lanny Wadkins                  81-74-155

Shaun Micheel                  79-77-156