ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Two of golf’s big-hitters, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, pounded a defenseless Bellerive Country Club into submission while Charl Schwartzel took a more delicate approach to surge into PGA Championship contention on Friday.
Koepka and Johnson, two Americans who would not look out of place in a National Football League locker room, simply overpowered Bellerive but South African Schwartzel, not known for his work with the driver, showed there are other ways to tame the parkland layout.
While the rain softened course and humid conditions favored power hitters, a hot putter proved to be just as effective as Schwartzel and Koepka carded seven-under 63s to equal the record low round in the 100-year history of the PGA Championship.
“Records are meant to be broken, I guess,” said Koepka, who needed to drain a 22-footer for birdie at his last hole to grab the record outright. “I didn’t know. I just was trying to make the thing and I really thought I made it.
“My caddie said something walking off on 18. I didn’t even think of it. I’ve been so in the zone you don’t know where you are or where you’re at.”
With the afternoon wave just underway, Koepka’s 63 left the twice defending U.S. Open champion alone in third at eight-under, just two back of second round clubhouse leader Gary Woodland.
Schwartzel’s effort put him at seven-under alongside world number one Johnson, who collected five birdies over his last seven holes for a four-under 66.
The South African said he suspected there was a low round out there for the taking and minutes after Koepka notched his 63, Schwartzel became the 16th golfer to shoot the score at the season’s fourth major.
“In the practice rounds, I thought you’ve got a good chance of shooting a low score,” said Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion. “I was hitting a lot of drivers.
“If you’re hitting it down in the fairway with the way the greens are designed, you can get the ball to about 15 feet on almost every hole.
“If you do that well... you just feel like you can have lots of chances around here.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar