The PGA Championship is becoming a LIV fest

Bryson DeChambeau, 2023 PGA Championship, Oak Hill, Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports
Bryson DeChambeau, 2023 PGA Championship, Oak Hill, Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports /

Like Thursday’s first round of the PGA Championship, Friday’s Day 2 play was a statistical victory for the LIV Tour contingent, albeit a much narrower one.

The 16 LIV players lost some ground in the effort to see one of their own actually win a Major Championship.

At the halfway point, just two of the rebel tour’s players – Bryson DeChambeau (three under) and Brooks Koepka (two under) remain within five strokes of tri-leaders Corey Conners, Scottie Scheffler, and Viktor Hovland, all of them at five-under.

LIV contingent wins Friday at PGA Championship.

But as they did Thursday, the LIV contingent had the better stroke average Friday at Oak Hill. Their round 2 average was 71.94, giving LIV an even 72.00 stroke average for the tournament.

The 91 PGA Tour regulars in the field made a better game of it Friday than on Day 1, when they were out-scored by nearly a full stroke. But their collective 72.08 average still came up close to two-tenths of a stroke worse, and their 36-hole average of 72.49 was a half stroke higher than the LIV average.

Beyond that, 11 of the 16 players from the Saudi-funded tour – that’s 69 percent – made the 36-hole cut. The PGA Tour numbers were 52 of 91, for 57 percent.

Among the prominent PGA Tour names crashing and burning Friday were former Major champions Gary Woodland, Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Matthew Fitzpatrick, and Jason Day. The LIV contingent lost Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch, Anirban Lahiri, Joaquin Niemann, and Brendan Steele.

But its biggest names – DeChambeau, Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, and Phil Mickelson – all made the cut.

The collective PGA Tour results represent a sharp turnaround from one month ago at The Masters. In that event, the PGA Tour delegation averaged a quarter stroke better than the LIV delegation for the first two rounds, and a half stroke better for the entire tournament.

Fiery Rory in contention once again at PGA Championship. dark. Next

And that was true despite the fact that Koepka and Mickelson both finished among that tournament’s top five.

Both of the rival delegations did improve their averages from Thursday’s first round. The PGA Tour group did so by eight-tenths of a stroke, from 72.9 to 72.1, while the LIV group improved its average from 72.1 to 71.9.