PGA Championship: Scottie Scheffler shares lead of loaded leaderboard at midway point at Oak Hill
Scottie Scheffler can retake the No. 1 ranking in the world this weekend with a win at Oak Hill.
While eyes have largely been on Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy this season, Scottie Scheffler has been right there with them.
Now, at the midway point of the PGA Championship, he has a chance to retake his spot at No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings with what would be his second major championship win.
Scheffler holds a share of the lead at Oak Hill Country Club at 5-under after posting what was yet another solid round of golf on Friday. Scheffler, who carded his first bogey-free round at a major on Thursday, shot a 2-under 68 on Friday. He opened with back-to-back birdies and made it through 36 holes with just two bogeys to his name.
“It's very challenging, but I feel like on a golf course like this, I'm one swing away from getting everything back together,” Scheffler said. “You get rewarded for good shots out here, and if you execute, you can birdie pretty much any hole. Granted, it's going to take two pretty incredible golf shots to do that, but it can be done. It's not impossible.
“So when you can kind of hang around the lead and stay in position and hopefully wait to get hot, it's a good position to be in. I've done a good job the first two days of keeping the golf course in front of me and scrambling well.”
Scheffler already has two wins this season, first at the WM Phoenix Open and then again a month later at The Players Championship. He hasn’t finished worse than T12 in 2023 and has been pushing with Rahm for the top spot in the world rankings. Scheffler can retake that spot with as bad as a solo fourth-place finish this week, too.
But there’s plenty of others right within striking distance of Scheffler headed into the weekend, and he’s well aware of what’s coming.
“I find myself comfortable in these situations,” he said. “These are the positions I want to be in, I want to be near the lead … I'm proud of how I did the first few days, and I'm excited to be in a good position going into the weekend. With that being said, I'm going to keep my head down and keep doing what I'm doing.”
Scheffler shares a 2-shot lead at Oak Hill
A win for Scheffler won’t be easy. There’s plenty of guys who can beat him there, starting with the others who are also at 5-under.
Corey Conners matched Scheffler’s 68 on Friday, and at one point held a two-shot lead over the rest of the field. He’s the first Canadian to lead or co-lead a major championship since Mike Weir did so at the 2003 Masters. Viktor Hovland joined those two, thanks to a 5-foot birdie putt at the final hole.
Birdie finish for Viktor Hovland 👏
He joins the co-leaders at -5. pic.twitter.com/zu4KKFBbiy
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) May 19, 2023
“As soon as I hit [my approach], I saw the initial curve, and I thought it was going to be pretty good,” Hovland said. “That was a nice way to finish.”
Neither Hovland nor Conners have won a major before, though Hovland has been in contention a handful of times — most recently with his T4 finish at last year’s British Open and a T7 run at the Masters last month.
LIV Golf’s Bryson DeChambeau, who led the field after Round 1, stumbled a bit with his 1-over finish on Friday. He made a bogey and a double on his front side, but recovered nicely with three birdies in his first five holes on the back. DeChambeau — who hasn’t had much success since leaving for LIV Golf — sits two back of the leaders at the midway point tied with Justin Suh in fourth.
“I know what to do. I've done it before,” DeChambeau said. “It's been a few years, but it doesn't mean I don't know how to do it.”
Fellow LIV Golf member Brooks Koepka, who came in second at the Masters, expertly recovered after his tough opening day. He went 4-under on Friday, thanks to four birdies in his final seven holes. He’s just three back.
"I felt a little bit more comfortable with the putter," he told ESPN after his round Friday. "Ball striking yesterday was about as bad as I’ve seen it in a long time."
Even McIlroy is still in contention. McIlroy, who said Thursday that he’s recovering from an illness, sits five shots back after going 1-under in the second round. That gap, he insisted, isn’t insurmountable by any means.
“I think how terribly I've felt over the golf ball over the last two days, the fact that I'm only five back — yeah, not saying I could be up there with one of my best performances, but when I holed that putt at the last, I looked at the board, and I thought, I can't believe I'm five back,” he said.
“I guess that's a good thing because I know if I can get it in play off the tee, that's the key to my success over the weekend. If I can get the ball in play off the tee, I'll have a shot.”
A second major win in as many years for Scheffler would be huge for his career. With the way he’s been playing since he blew up on the PGA Tour, he’s sure to get another in the near future.
Pulling that off this week with such a loaded leaderboard around him entering Moving Day isn’t going to be an easy feat. But if he can do it, it’d make lifting the Wanamaker Trophy at the end of the week that much more satisfying.