Day 1 at Kiawah Island did not disappoint, as Pete Dye’s menacing layout defended itself nicely against the best players in the world. Corey Conners’ 5-under 67 was the best round by two, but there were only six other rounds in the 60s (Brooks Koepka, Viktor Hovland, Keegan Bradley, Aaron Wise, Sam Horsfield and Cameron Davis all shot 3-under 69s). The opening-round scoring average was 74.781, surely inflated by a handful of mid-80s rounds from club pros in the field—but hey, tour pros weren’t immune to the big numbers, too. (Click here for the most surprising rounds of Day 1.)
(Scroll down for the latest updates)
We should expect to see the same from Day 2 at the Ocean Course with similar conditions, though we might have a sustained wind of at least 15 miles per hour from 10 a.m. on. That’s all this faux-links course needs to show its teeth.
Here are the latest updates from Friday at the 2021 PGA Championship:
7:48 p.m.: The 18th hole results in bogeys for Hideki Matsuyama and Bryson DeChambeau ... Hideki's bunker shot traveled across the green while Bryson flubbed his chip from a really difficult spot to the right of the green.
That drops Matsuyama back to 3-under, two back of the lead, and Bryson falls back to 1-under ... four back and certainly within striking distance heading into the weekend.
7:35 p.m.: A nice scrambling up-and-down at the difficult final hole for Brooks Koepka gives him a second-round 71 ... felt like it had the potential to be a lot better with him dropping two shots over the last four holes. But the four-time major champion is just one back of Oosthuizen and Mickelson going into tomorrow. You know he'll be part of the story.
7:20 p.m.: Bryson provided another electric moment at the par-3 17th hole ... taking his 7-iron right over the water and at the flagstick. He turned to the fans behind the tee and gave a nice finger point as the crowd went nuts.
Too bad he missed the birdie putt that would've sent him to 3-under, but these were more fun times with Bryson.
7:08 p.m.: Brooks Koepka three-putts from long distance at the difficult par-3 17th hole to make his second bogey in three holes ... dropping him back to 4-under now as he heads to 18. He won't make excuses, but we'll make one for him: He had to wait about 15 minutes on the tee before hitting his shot, and for someone with an injured knee, that couldn't have helped. Regardless, he's just one back of the lead after Oosthuizen's bogey at 18.
7:03 p.m.: Louis Oosthuizen will not be a solo leader heading into the weekend. Oostie fails to get up and down from behind the green—dropping his first bogey in 25 holes at the Ocean Course (pretty remarkable). That's still a fabulous 4-under 68 from the South African, putting him in great shape heading into the weekend of a major. A very familiar sight for golf fans.
6:56 p.m.: There have been a ton of adventures all around the Ocean Course on Friday. Of course, Bryson DeChambeau had one of the most interesting ones at No. 16. He hit a "great drive," his words ... as he repeated that three times to his caddie Tim Tucker, but his drive found the very, very thick cabbage off the tee, leaving him only a chop out.
Bryson then hit a substandard approach shot into the greenside sandy area ... but Bryson being Bryson, he hit the flagstick on his fourth shot for just a ho-hum par. The guy is a content factory, always giving us interesting moments. Bryson is 2-under and four back of Louis Oosthuizen.
6:47 p.m.: That's a missed opportunity for Brooks Koepka at the par-5 16th hole ... the four-time major champ missed the green with his approach from 269 yards, leaving himself the always-tricky 50-yard bunker shot. Koepka hit it to 25 feet then justttt missed the birdie putt. He'll settle for a par ... which he'd gladly take at Nos. 17 and 18 upcoming...
6:28 p.m.: Brooks Koepka was on a roll until the 15th hole ... he found the rough off the tee (a rarity for him today), which sent his second shot well right of the green. But he hit a tremendously tidy pitch to four feet, but surprisingly missed the putt. The bogey knocks Koepka back to 5-under, one short of Louis Oosthuizen's lead.
6:21 p.m.: Louis Oosthuizen went full Hideki Matsuyama with his third shot into the par-5 16th hole ... as he was displeased with a shot that ended up 10 feet from the hole. But Louie misses the putt that would've put him ahead of Koepka, instead he settles for a par to remain at 6-under.
6:06 p.m.: Hideki Matsuyama sticks his approach on the 13th hole and converts this six-footer to get within two of Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen. So much for that Masters hangover ... Hideki is playing phenomenal here at Kiawah Island.
5:58 p.m.: We interrupt our Brooks Koepka highlight feed with a glorious two-hole stretch from Harry Higgs. Button undone on his shirt, the fun-loving pro just finished his round with birdie putts of 64 feet (on 18) and 59 feet (on 17). Are you kidding? Absolutely amazing stuff from Higgs to get into the clubhouse at 1-under after 36 holes.
5:53 p.m.: Brooks Koepka got pretty fortunate at the 13th hole as he sent his approach dangerously close to the water right. It nearly found the wooden plank against the water hazard but settled about 25 feet away. Koepka misses the birdie putt but will definitely take the par after that approach shot looked like it could've been doomed.
Bryson DeChambeau and Hideki Matsuyama each had birdie tries at the 12th hole (they're in the same group), but they both come up just shy and remain at 3-under. Hideki and Bryson are each gaining more than three strokes on their approach shots and more than a stroke off the tee ... but their putters haven't been equally as good.
5:36 p.m.: Brooks Koepka sticks his approach to 5 feet on the 12th hole and converts the birdie to tie Louis Oosthuizen atop the leader board. That's two eagles and a birdie over the past six holes for Koepka. He is playing some damn good golf.
How about this stat, which puts a Koepka win in historical context:
5:33 p.m.: Goodness, Bryson. After a very fortunate drop putting him in the middle of the fairway at the par-5 11th hole, Bryson cannot take advantage. His second shot came up short, but after a chip to five feet, he missed yet another short putt. Practically everyone in the field is birdieing the 11th hole ... for the longest hitter in the field not to birdie it, well, that's somewhat of a shock to his system.
5:19 p.m.: Brooks Koepka entered the week with some injury concerns ... and even if he's not 100 percent, he is playing as well as anybody else. He just converted a 19-footer for eagle at the par-5 11th hole to get to 5-under, which is one back of Louis Oosthuizen.
It's tough not to think that Koepka's round could be even better ... he is striking it insanely well. He's missed birdie putts of 11 feet, 15 feet and 14 feet on the past three holes alone. But he has destroyed the par 5s this week—playing them 7-under thus far. Koepka is in the MIX right now.
5:12 p.m.: Bryson DeChambeau just missed a great opportunity for another birdie at the par-4 10th hole. That would've gotten him to 4-under on the tourney and the round, but he'll stay at 3-under and heads to the very birdieable par-5 11th. What will that be for Bryson ... driver, 9-iron? pitching wedge?
5:10 p.m.: Louis Oosthuizen is unconscious ... Oostie just made his fifth birdie of the day against zero bogeys to take the outright lead by himself. The South African is 6-under ... and to be 5-under in these conditions is incredible. He still has the difficult closing holes to come, but this is really impressive golf from the 2010 Open champion.
The Round 2 scoring average is 74.7, and probably even slightly worse in the afternoon wave ... and yet Oosthuizen is still working on a 5-under round.
5:05 p.m.: Viktor Hovland makes birdie at the gettable par-5 11th hole, just missing his eagle putt, to get back to 3-under par. The young Norweigan has fought back nicely after a tough bogey-double stretch on Nos. 3 and 4. Hovland's back to even-par on the day ... and you know he'd sign up for that score at the end of his round.
4:51 p.m.: We've got a gator sighting! Just strolling along in the middle of play. That's a pace of play penalty for sure.
4:37 p.m.: McIlroy will finish his front-nine with a 30-foot birdie and the crowd going nuts right behind him. With a 2-under 34, that'll be a nice pick-me-up for Rory. With how well he's hitting, there's certainly time to climb up the leader board even more. It's those par 5s that are really hurting him right now.
4:19 p.m.: Moving up the leader board, Bryson DeChambeau birdies the par-5 seventh to get to 2-under. He's now three shots back of leader Phil Mickelson with plenty of golf left to play. Moments later, Brooks Koepka misses a strong birdie chance on the eighth hole to stay at 3-under. Both are certainly within striking distance of the lead.
4:05 p.m.: Brooks! Koepka hits a LONG eagle putt from 45 feet to get to 3-under for the tournament. He's even through seven holes today and just jumped up to the T-3 spot.
3:50 p.m.: It feels like a lot of birdies are happening early on in rounds despite the weather. Matt Wallace just converted a third-straight birdie to get to 2-under, jumping up to T-5.
3:44 p.m.: And that'll be a big birdie for Rory McIlroy on the sixth hole to get to 1-under for the day and 2-over for the tournament. From 15 feet, that was not an easy putt for Rory and perhaps it's the momentum builder he needs to get into the weekend and make some noise. It was a rough start on Thursday, but he seems to be getting back on track now.
3:33 p.m.: The course may be challenging the competitors, but it seems to be golf paradise for the patrons. Really getting into the spirit—with oohs and ahhs that might make you lower your volume—it's fun to have fans back once again for the PGA Championship.
With three early birdies to start off the day, Louis Oosthuizen is now just one shot back from Mickelson's lead. He's dialed in right now and has second place all to himself. Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout currently round out the top four.
3:18 p.m.: Bit of a situation here. Brad Marek, a club pro from California, is -1 for the tournament and T17. That is quite impressive, especially considering the No. 1 player in the world, Dustin Johnson, looks like he's going to miss the cut in a second consecutive major.
2:58 p.m.: Not a ton of activity recently. Lots of treading water for the guys near the top of the leader board. Mickelson still stands alone at -5, while seven players are two shots back. Two of them, South Africans Brendan Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are in the clubhouse. The rest are still in the early stages of their rounds.
2:10 p.m.: Three of the four most recent major champions are on the course as Collin Morikawa, Bryson DeChambeau and Hideki Matsuyama are off the first. On 9, Jordan Spieth just bricked a short par putt to drop to +4. The cut line is currently +3, but seems likely to move back as the afternoon goes on. If it doesn't ... Spieth may never hear the end of that one.
1:58 p.m.: Martin Laird is picking up right where he left off yesterday. Starting on 10, he's birdied his first two holes of the day to get to -4, one shot off Mickelson's lead.
On the other side of the course, the power group of Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka are on the first hole. Koepka is starting his day just two shots off the lead, while Thomas and McIlroy can't afford much backward movement if they are to stick around for the weekend.
1:49 p.m.: Alright, folks. Here we go. The marquee groups in the afternoon wave are teeing off. Lee Westwood, Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele are off and running. Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas are headed to the first tee right behind them.
1:14 p.m.: It's not all fun and games out here. It's Friday, which means it's also cut day. The cut line has just moved from +2 to +3. The second-round scoring average is 74.81, so we could maybe see it move back some more, especially as the wind freshens and the greens dry out this afternoon.
Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas will start just before 2 p.m. at +3. Jordan Spieth is battling on his second-nine to stay inside the cut line, as are Will Zalatoris, Justin Rose and Jon Rahm.
12:55 p.m.: That is exactly what Pete Dye had in mind when he built the 17th. Brendan Grace's tee shot is a little too far right and not quite long enough. His third shot, from the drop zone, barely clears the water as well. His bogey putt goes begging and now *Phil Mickelson (!) is the solo leader of the 102nd PGA Championship at -5.
12:43 p.m.: Oh! Phil Mickelson! Holes a mid-range birdie on 9 for another birdie. Lefty played his second-nine in 31, 5-under to post 69, good for solo second. That's one shot back of Brendan Grace's lead. Those two are holding strong while the rest of the morning wave is stumbling a bit. Nobody sits at -4, with a bunch of players at -3.
12:24 p.m.: A lovely hole out from a greenside sandy area for Gary Woodland continues a stretch of three birdies in a row. The 2019 U.S. Open champion moves to -2, four strokes off of Brendan Grace's lead.
11:53 a.m.: It's all about Phil right now. With three birdies over four holes, featuring a roar from the crowd, Mickelson is now 3-under and at T-4. He's having quite the front-nine (his second-nine), especially considering how poorly the day started.
11:40 a.m.: "Wonderful shot!" Steve Stricker eagles the second hole to get to 1-over. Never bad to pick up two shots with one swing. The Ryder Cup captain jumped up from T-75 to T-40 with that one.
11:29 a.m.: Update on Poston: The man is feeling it right now. He gets it from post to green and somehow finishes the hole with a par.
Lefty! It wasn't looking good after that back-nine but Phil is now at 2-under after yet another birdie. He's just three shots back of Grace now. Mickelson is always a roller coaster and that didn't change for Kiawah.
11:20 a.m.: Carlos Ortiz eagles the par-5 11 to get to 2-under for the PGA. It's a long putt that gets him there and he's back in the mix after being tied for the lead on Thursday.
Ian Poulter nails a putt into the wind at the par-4 10 to get to 3-under and tie for second place. With an eagle earlier in the day on the seventh hole, Poulter is making a good run today.
We have a stunned Jim Nantz after J.T. Poston gets the break of all breaks. Instead of dropping into the water, Poston's ball hangs onto the railroad ties. He couldn't do that again if he tried. Don't worry, we'll add video the second it's available.
11:06 a.m.: It doesn't get any worse than this. Certainly a real sand trap.
11:00 a.m.: And Phil Mickelson is back ... under par. A birdie on the second hole will get him down to 1-under. After a run of three bogeys earlier today, Lefty has pulled himself back into the thick of things.
10:47 a.m.: At the par-4 10th, Grace appeared to have a tricky up-and-down for par from a greenside bunker. No matter, he splashed it out and rolled it in for a birdie. He's at five under, bogey free through 10, and two clear of everybody.
10:30 a.m.: Some semi-surprising names, at least for the casual golf fan, have suddenly vaulted up the board. Branden Grace's fellow countryman, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, has reached three under after making eagle at the par-5 seventh. Also at three under - Richy Werenski, who has played some solid golf this season. Interesting leader board right now, to say the least. With the wind in the forecast for this afternoon, three or four under is going to look reallllll good.
10:01 a.m.: Took awhile, but we finally have a new solo leader - South Africa's Branden Grace, who has flirted with the lead at a number of majors in his career. That said, he hasn't been doing that in the last three years, his most recent major top 10 coming at the 2017 Open Championship, where he shot a third-round 62 at Royal Birkdale. He's returned to that type of form in 2021, already picking up a win at the Puerto Rico Open and a pair of top 25s at Riviera and Valero. He's at four under, one clear of Brooks Koepka, Keegan Bradley, Aaron Wise and Viktor Hovland, who all tee off this afternoon. No one currently on the golf course is within one shot of Grace's lead.
9:49 a.m.: How about Padraig Harrington? The 49-year-old is two under, one off the lead, and he just hit an 11 outta 10 shot at the par-3 17th to about 15 feet. Just an absolute low bullet with a hint of draw. Impressive stuff from the three-time major champ. He and his fellow old dog Phil Mickelson are playing some solid golf right now. Nobody would be mad to see them both in the picture late on Sunday.
9:24 a.m.: If Jordan Spieth is walking in birdie putts, the field might be in trouble. Spieth makes his second birdie in a row to get to 1-under on the day and even for the tournament—just three back of the lead. The three-time major champion stuck his approach from 198 to 5 feet at the 12th hole and holed it with absolute confidence there.
Corey Conners has played seven holes and still doesn't have a par! The good news for him, though, is his latest hole was a birdie—his second of the day—to go with five bogeys. He's back to 2-under and just one back of the current lead.
9:10 a.m.: Jordan Spieth makes up for the opening bogey with an up-and-down birdie at the par-5 11th. Spieth is just four back of the lead, sitting at 1-over par.
9:08 a.m.: The wheels are falling off for Conners. The Canadian just yanked his par putt at the 15th hole. That's the Canadian's fifth bogey in six holes ... the poor guy is driving the struggle bus right now, dropping to 4-over through his first six holes—a score matched by just a few golfers (one of whom is Sam Horsfield who was in second place after Round 1—he has also plummeted down the leader board.)
8:51 a.m.: Oh my, Corey Conners has made a fourth bogey in his first five holes to fall out of the lead completely. Conners has played tremendous golf all year, so this is a very surprising start. Sure, it's a different spot for him being in the lead of a major, but in some benign conditions and how solid Conners has been striking the ball—few would've predicted the disastrious start from the Canadian.
Speaking of disasters, Phil Mickelson just averted one at the 13th hole. At 3-under and holding a share of the lead, Phil decided to go flag-hunting when there was little room for error at the 13th and ended up in the water. But as he so often does, Lefty escapes out of trouble and hits his fourth shot within a foot of the hole. That'll be a tap-in bogey to lose just one.
8:48 a.m.: Jordan Spieth fails to get up and down from the front bunker at the 10th hole, so he has started his round with a bogey. He's back at 2-over and five back of the early lead.
8:40 a.m.: Corey Conners no longer holds the outright lead—making a third bogey in his first four holes (along with a birdie). He has relinquished that lead, dropping back to 3-under. There are now eight players tied at 3-under (Mickelson, Koepka, Hovland, Bradley, Conners, Grace, Wise, Davis)
8:37 a.m.: Jordan Spieth's round is underway in his group with Will Zalatoris and Webb Simpson. Spieth (1-over after Round 1) finds the rough on the left side off the tee, which we've seen makes it really difficult to hold this green. Spieth comes up short, so he'll have to get up and down to save his par.
8:34 a.m.: Jon Rahm is now your betting favorite after starting his round with two birdies (at Nos. 10 and 11) to get to 2-under, which is just two back of Corey Conners, who found the rough off the tee at the difficult 13th hole.
8:22 a.m.: It's been an eventful morning thus far for Corey Conners. He just made his second bogey, for a Bogey-Birdie-Bogey start. His lead is back to one over a pack of players that includes 50-year-old Phil Mickelson.
8:09 a.m.: Ladies and gentlemen, Phil Mickelson has entered the chat. Phil started his tournament 3-over through the first six holes, but he played sensational coming in—making five birdies to get to 2-under for the day. Lefty has now started his day with a birdie at the par-5 11th hole—his second hole of the day—to get to 3-under.
7:56 a.m.: The flat stick remains hot for Corey Conners, as the Canadian just dropped a 30-footer for birdie at the par-5 11th hole to get back to even on the day and 5-under for the tourney.
Conners had a really difficult chip to the left of the green ... but right now, when you're putting this well, it doesn't matter what your leave is, apparently. (Conners ranked fourth in strokes gained/putting in Round 1, according to Golf Digest cotributor Rick Gehman and his live SG leader board at RickRunGood.com.)
How about this shot from Matt Fitzpatrick in the same group as Conners? Starting your day with a tap-in eagle (after a bogey) is awfully nice.
Horsfield rights the ship as well with a birdie at the par-5 11th hole. The Englishman gets back to 3-under for the tourney.
7:37 a.m.: Our first-round leader Corey Conners is off, and it’s not the start he had in mind. His tee shot just barely found the rough, but this rough is THICK off the fairways. Conners couldn’t control his approach as it bounded over the green and into the bunker. A missed 15-foot par putt, and the Canadian’s lead has already been reduced to one shot.
7:28 a.m.: Sam Horsfield is a name most casual American golf fans aren’t familiar with. But that could change this week. He’s T-2 after Round 1, and this 24-year-old has the talent to compete in majors. The Englishman has two European Tour wins to his credit, and in his five latest starts has three top-10s and five top-25s. Oh, and he went to the University of Florida, so he’s somewhat familiar with the Southern part of the United States. Maybe … that appeared to be true on Thursday at least. Horsfield has bogeyed the first hole, so he falls back early.
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