By Andrew Both
ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – American Brooks Koepka and South African Charl Schwartzel matched the record low round at a PGA Championship, shooting seven-under-par 63 as players plundered Bellerive in the second round on Friday.
Soft conditions and hardly any wind left the course there for the taking by the morning starters, while Gary Woodland shot 66 to retain the lead from the charging pack.
Woodland posted a 10-under 130 halfway total for a one-shot advantage over fellow American Kevin Kisner (64), with whom he played. U.S. Open champion Koepka vaulted within two strokes with his seven-birdie 63.
“Today I drove it beautifully, my wedges distance control is very spot on, and making the putts, those five, six-footers that you need to make,” said Koepka.
Minutes later Schwartzel became the 16th player to shoot the score at the season’s fourth major, and joined world number one Dustin Johnson (66) and Belgian Thomas Pieters (66) three off the pace.
Schwartzel switched to a heavier putter after being unhappy with his form on the greens on Thursday, and the move paid dividends as he ran in eight birdies.
“I felt like I was putting for birdie on pretty much every hole,” said the 2011 Masters champion.
Leader Woodland was not at the peak of his game, but had no complaints.
“Probably didn’t play as well as I did yesterday top to bottom, but the iron game really kept me in it today,” said the world number 44.
“I got a little wayward with a couple of drives and hit a lot of good putts that didn’t go in. I can live with that.”
Kisner, becoming a regular on major leaderboards, produced a sizzling outward half of 29, bagging six birdies before the turn.
He settled for a 64 after bogeying the last.
“I’ve made a bunch of cuts and competed in majors, I just haven’t, until recently, had a chance to win and that’s been our goal going forward and I like my position going to the weekend,” said Kisner.
He led into the final round at last year’s PGA before finishing equal seventh, and also into the final round of the British Open last month, where he tied for second.
Earlier on Friday, Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira recorded the first eagle of the championship when he drove the green at the par-four 11th and sank a five-foot putt. He shot 68 for one-under.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and defending champion Justin Thomas were among those teeing off later on Friday.
Thomas shot 69 on Thursday, Woods and McIlroy 70.
(Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar)