GREENSBORO, N.C. — Tom Hoge maintained a share of the lead Friday at the Wyndham Championship, this time alongside Si Woo Kim, Talor Gooch and Billy Horschel.
Hoge, tied for the first-round lead with Harold Varner III and Roger Sloan, kept in front with a steady 2-under 68 to get to 10-under par.
Hoge, whose best-ever tour finish was a second at The Greenbrier this season, was asked what it would take for his first PGA Tour win.
“There’s a lot to that question,” he said.
The answer could be as simple as regaining his first-round form when he had seven birdies, an eagle and one par. This time, Hoge was more up and down with five birdies and three bogeys.
Kim, whose first tour victory came here in 2016 and made history a year later as the youngest-ever winner of The Players Championship, shot a 65 to move up.
Kim got it going on the front nine (his final nine) after starting with nine consecutive pars. He had six bogeys coming in, including the final two holes to move on top.
Kim’s approach shots down the stretch were on target — his final five birdie putts were all from 12 feet or closer.
He said the rough at Sedgefield Country Club was “more sticky and deep” this year.
“It helps more to hit fairway, that’s really important,” Kim said. “That’s why I hit it more, try to focus on ,,, the fairway.”
Like Hoge, the 28-year-old Gooch is seeking his first tour victory. Like Kim, Gooch shot 65 to get into the foursome on top.
It was the first time on tour Gooch, who opened with a 65, had multiple rounds that low in the same event. He had six birdies, including two of his final three holes, to move up.
“Anytime you shoot 65, it does’t matter who, what, when, where, why, you’ve done some good,” he said.
Horschel shot 64 and had birdies on four of last six holes, including a tricky 7-footer on his final one, the ninth, to join the lead group. Horschel won the 2014 FedEx Cup and said this time of year charges him up.
“I like it when the pressure’s on and everyone’s looking at you and you need to step up and doing something special,” he said.
The four were a stroke ahead of Harris English (67) , Varner (69), Andrew Landry (65), Doc Redman (64) and British Open champ Shane Lowry, who shot a 63 to tie for Friday’s low round with Jason Kokrak.
Lowry did not get to defend his major when the tournament was cancelled due to the global pandemic. He also entered the week at 131 in FedEx Cup points, outside of the upcoming playoffs.
After a bogey on his second hole, Lowry had six birdies and an eagle to move into contention.
“Obviously, I’m outside the FedEx Cup number and out of Boston next week, so I need to keep playing some good golf and try and polish off a good week,” he said.
Kokrak was in a group of seven one shot further back along with past Wyndham champ Webb Simpson, who shot his second straight 66.
Those three strokes back included Patrick Reed (68), Paul Casey (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (64).
A pair of major champions in the thick of last week’s PGA Championship in Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose did not make the cut.
Koepka had a 70, including a triple-bogey 7 on the 10th hole, to finish at 2-over, 12 shots behind. Rose rallied to a 67 after an opening 73, but his even-par was not enough to continue.
“Not physically tired, more mentally,” said Koepka, who’s played in sixth straight tournaments with the playoffs ahead. “But I’ve got the weekend off.”
AKRON — Jerry Kelly was the only player at par or better after two days on Firestone’s difficult South Course in the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship, the PGA Tour Champions’ first major of the season.
“You get out of position here, you’re in deep trouble, and that’s what it’s like in a major,” Kelly said. “That’s why I haven’t done that well in that many majors. It’s definitely harder to get back in position.”
Kelly shot an even-par 70 on Friday in tricky wind conditions to remain 2 under, three strokes ahead of fellow Madison, Wisconsin, player Steve Stricker, Colin Montgomerie, Rod Pampling and Robert Karlsson,
“The first day I turned a 64 into a 68 and today I turned an 80 into a 70,” Kelly said. “I didn’t strike it very well today. I didn’t hit fairways like I normally do, so I think if I get back to hitting the fairways, it’s a very playable golf course. But it seemed weird the way the holes were shaped and the way the wind was blowing.”
Kelly started the back nine with a bogey on the par-4 10th, birdied the par-3 11th, chipped in for par on the par-3 12th and made another bogey on the par-4 13th.
“The chip-in on 12, that was awesome,” Kelly said. “I saved great bogeys. On 13 and 10, those were good bogeys.”
Montgomerie matched the best round of the day with a 69 on the testing course that was the longtime site of a PGA Tour event and later a World Golf Championship tournament.
“I don’t so much see it as a challenge, to be honest, I see it as the way it should be,” Montgomerie said. “It’s a major championship, and it should be more than a challenge. You know what I mean? It’s one of these courses you get rewarded for good play. On these courses you get heavily penalized for not. There is no way out.”
Karlsson shot 71, and Stricker and Pampling had 73s. Stricker closed with a bogey.
“It’s a challenge,” Stricker said. “I’m not hitting it all that great, so it makes it even more of a challenge. If you don’t get it in the fairway, you have some sort of shot underneath a tree to try to get it up around the green and try to get it up-and-down. I think I’ve only hit nine greens each day, which going around here, that’s not very good. I’m struggling a little bit, but I think everybody is. It’s just a difficult course.”
Miguel Angel Jimenez (74), Tom Gillis (71), Scott Parel (71), Shaun Micheel (71), Dicky Pride (71), Mike Weir (70) and Woody Austin (69) were 2 over. Bernhard Langer (73) was another stroke back.