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Dustin Johnson flexes his muscles and leader Gary Woodland sets lowest 36-hole score as big hitters take charge at the US PGA Championship

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 11/08/2018 Dave Wood
a group of people playing frisbee in a park: Dustin Johnson followed up his opening 67 with a 66, leaving him on -7 for the championship © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Dustin Johnson followed up his opening 67 with a 66, leaving him on -7 for the championship

If you want to know why the fairways will be narrow at the Ryder Cup next month and the rough juicy, take a look at what happened on the second day of the 100th US PGA Championship at Bellerive.

Give America’s heavy artillery generous targets from the tee and enticing hole positions and they are in their element.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson, US Open champion Brooks Koepka and Gary Woodland — perhaps the biggest hitter of all — flexed their muscles on this typical example of country club target golf, and took dead aim.

a crowd of people at a park: Thunderstorms forced play to be suspended in mid-afternoon and later abandoned for the day © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Thunderstorms forced play to be suspended in mid-afternoon and later abandoned for the day

Fair play to the plucky Kevin Kisner from South Carolina, therefore, who managed to keep pace with this trio of monstrous sluggers despite being a rather modest 142nd in driving distance this season.

The plucky 34-year-old, who finished tied second in the Open last month, punched well above his weight once more with a fine 64. 

He finished just a shot behind his playing partner, barstool buddy and the early halfway leader Woodland, who followed up his own 64 on day one with a 66 for a total of 10 under par.

‘We’ve come through the ranks together, we’re lifelong friends and if only I could hit it 350 yards from the tee like him, well, what a different game it would be,’ said Kisner.

a crowd of people at a park: World No 1 Johnson turned on the afterburners to play the back nine in 31 shots © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited World No 1 Johnson turned on the afterburners to play the back nine in 31 shots

Nestling right behind them on eight under is the dangerous Koepka, who became the 15th man in PGA Championship history to shoot 63. In turn, he is just a shot ahead of his big pal Johnson.

At the US Open it was Koepka who came out on top between these two and it would be no surprise if they have another go at it.

Koepka said: ‘When you think where I was in April and having to miss the Masters with a wrist injury, to win two majors in the same season would be incredible.’

a man standing in front of a crowd: Gary Woodland's 10-under-par halfway total of 130 established a championship record © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Gary Woodland's 10-under-par halfway total of 130 established a championship record

Johnson, who has got one major and a ton of near misses on his c.v., turned on the afterburners to play the back nine in 31 shots. ‘I’m definitely after that second major,’ said the 34-year-old. ‘It’s time I converted one of these chances I keep giving myself.’

The Europeans? They are not out of it, with Open champion Francesco Molinari five off the pace after a 67 and Jon Rahm on the same mark after a 68.

‘I feel I’m in a similar position to Carnoustie in that I had work to do over the weekend and managed to do it, so let’s hope for something similar,’ said Molinari.

Best performance by the 14-strong English contingent came from Matt Wallace © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Best performance by the 14-strong English contingent came from Matt Wallace

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the opening day was the 67 that Rose managed to conjure up despite having his preparations savaged by a niggling back complaint.

The 38-year-old moved a lot more freely on Friday, as he set about building on his gains.

The earlier disruption appeared more telling on this occasion, alas, as he made far more mistakes than usual. Even on a course offering plenty of birdie opportunities it is hard to keep pace if you run up four bogeys, and the Englishman had to settle for a 69 and a four-under total that leaves him with plenty of catching up to do.

a man riding on the back of a park: Open champion Francesco Molinari is five off the pace after carding a 67 in second round © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Open champion Francesco Molinari is five off the pace after carding a 67 in second round

Mind you, given where he was on Tuesday, when he struggled to walk nine holes round here, much less play a full shot, it has been a terrific effort that says much about his fortitude.

Considering he went from just making the cut at the Open to finishing joint second, he will not be giving up on his chances just yet, either.

Among the early starters, the best performance by the 14-strong English contingent came from Matt Wallace, who shot 66 after benefiting from seeing a sports psychologist for the first time. The 28-year-old Londoner has won twice this season but also missed his last four cuts.

a person in a baseball game: Spain's Jon Rahm remains in contention on five under after posting a 68 on Friday © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Spain's Jon Rahm remains in contention on five under after posting a 68 on Friday

It looked as if it was going to be a rare missed cut for Tommy Fleetwood when he was outside the mark on one over par with two holes to play, but two successive birdies to finish meant he was safe.

Playing alongside Kisner and Woodland, Sergio Garcia cut an understandably despondent figure. His struggles continued as a 71 left him on one over — with the projected cut mark being level par.

It meant he was staring down the barrel of a missed cut in all four majors this year — and leaving Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn to contemplate an awful dilemma as to whether to grant him a wildcard.

a man swinging a golf club: Brooks Koepka became the 15th man in US PGA Championship history to shoot 63 © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Brooks Koepka became the 15th man in US PGA Championship history to shoot 63
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