WASHINGTON (AFP) — Brendon Todd, chasing his third US PGA victory of the season, fired a five-under-par 65 for a two-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of the WGC St. Jude Invitational.
The 35-year-old American’s bogey-free effort left him on 11-under 129 after 36 holes at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tennessee, with compatriot Rickie Fowler second after a birdie-birdie finish.
“I just grinded really hard,” Todd said. “I had to make some clutch par saves early on… I’m putting really well so far.”
Defending champion Brooks Koepka, who will try to win a third consecutive PGA Championship and fifth major title next week in San Francisco, shared third on 133 with countryman Chez Reavie and South Korea’s An Byeong-hun.
Todd is one of three players to win twice since the start of the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-20 US PGA campaign last September, joining compatriots Justin Thomas and Webb Simpson.
World number 51 Todd captured the Bermuda Championship and Mayakoba Classic last November, adding to his only prior PGA victory at the 2014 Byron Nelson Championship.
Todd holed a tense par putt from just inside 10 feet on the first hole then dropped his approach at the second to seven feet and made the birdie putt. He sank another birdie putt from just outside 20 feet at the par-4 seventh.
The back nine’s par-3 holes gave up birdies to Todd as well. He made a 12-footer at 11 and rolled in an epic 50-footer at 14 before making a final birdie from 11 feet at 15.
“It was breaking left to right five or six feet,” Todd said of his long birdie at 14. “It happened to just drift right there in the middle of the hole.
“Bonus birdie there, but that’s what you’ve got to do to win golf tournaments.”
Fowler, who enjoyed a three-birdie run on the front nine but took a double bogey at 11, dropped his approach to three feet at 17 and made the birdie putt, then chipped in for birdie from 41 feet to close his day.
Sixth-ranked Koepka, who led Thursday after an opening 62, started on the back nine and stumbled on the front side to surrender the lead.
After birdies at the third at par-4 18th, Koepka missed par and bogey putts from inside four feet for a double bogey, then sandwiched bogeys at the fifth and seventh — missing fairways and par putts inside 10 feet on both — around a birdie at six.