It wasn’t Brooks Koepka’s best round, but it was good enough.
His second-round two-under 68 at the PGA Championship was a grind.
But major championships aren’t meant to be easy.
Battling hip tightness and a difficult golf course, Koepka is once again at the top of the leaderboard, two back of 36-hole leader Haotong Li.
“I’m pretty happy,” Koepka said after the round. “I felt like I probably could be ten right now. Hit a lot of good putts, just didn’t go in. A couple of them, if I just hit them, they’re in. But driving it pretty well. Iron play, I’m pretty pleased with. I like where I’m at.”
Koepka’s affinity to perform well at major championships isn’t new. He has four majors to prove it, all of them happening since 2017. But it’s the consistent scoring at golf’s four prestigious events that separates Koepka from his competition.
In his last nine PGA Championship rounds, Koepka has finished in a tie of third or better. That is a PGA Championship record, previously held by Lee Trevino (1970-1971) and Tiger Woods (1999-2000).
A MAJOR STAT–> 18 of Brooks Koepka's last 22 major championship rounds have been in the 60s! pic.twitter.com/f9EWdqKnva
— PGA News Feed (@PGANewsFeed) August 8, 2020
Koepka is a combined 76-under par at major championships since 2017. 18 of Koepka’s last 22 major championship rounds have been in the ’60s, a challenging feat to achieve on golf’s toughest course setups.
On Friday, Koepka’s 68 showcased his major championship toughness and resilience. Throughout the round, Koepka needed his hip stretched multiple times. He woke up Friday morning feeling tightness in his TFL muscle but it did not derail his performance.
“I woke up this morning, it was tight, and worked out and it got even tighter and then we loosened it up,” Koepka said. “It was a little tight when I was hitting balls on the range but it’s nothing to be worried about. We’ll loosen it up again and it will be a lot better.”
Throughout the round, Koepka converted numerous critical par putts, including on the par-3 8th, which is one of the most difficult holes on the course. Despite converting just 50 percent of fairways, Koepka was sixth in greens in regulation (75 percent). No better shot than on the 18th hole from the bunker, where Koepka flushed his iron that landed seven feet from the hole.
A closing birdie for @BKoepka.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) August 8, 2020
He made birdie, putting himself in contention for the weekend.
TPC Harding Park poses as one of the more challenging courses in PGA Championship history. Through two rounds, it posted one of the lowest averages of fairways converted (50.98%), second to Oakland Hills in 2008.
Koepka enjoys “big boy” golf courses. TPC Harding Park is no exception.
“It’s just it’s a great golf course,” Koepka said. “You’ve really just got to understand where you need your ball to be sometimes to make par. You can’t go at some of the flags. You’ve just got to settle for middle of the green and be disciplined. That’s what I think separates a lot of times the great players from the guys who are just below.”
Being at the top of the leaderboard is Koepka’s preference. But his position, sitting two back of the lead, is prime for moving day. Haotong Li, who is the 36-hole leader at eight-under-par, has never led a major championship before.
Even when it didn’t look perfect, Koepka is a maestro at major championships.
Don’t be surprised if he’s in the mix for his third straight Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday.