PITTSFORD -- Any golf fans who decided to follow Phil Mickelson around Oak Hill the first two days certainly got their money's worth. They got to cheer for the beloved Lefty -- and they also saw the two guys who happened to lead the PGA Championship midway through the second round.
Adam Scott, the reigning Masters champion, shot 2-under 68 today and led the field at 7-under 133 with the afternoon group just beginning its round. Justin Rose, the U.S. Open champion, was a shot behind at 6-under after shooting 66, including a blistering 29 on the front nine -- his second nine of the day.
Rose was seven shots back of Scott after they completed their first nine Friday. Rose promptly birdied four of the next five holes on the front side. Then he birded his last two, the 8th and 9th, to finish his round. Scott played the front side in 35.
Oh, I almost forgot Mickelson. He shot another pedestrian 1-over par 71 and stood at 142, nine shots back of Scott after two days. Mickelson had only one birdie. He shot identical rounds of 37-34 the first two days of the championship. He's likely to make the cut, but has only a remote chance of becoming the first man to win two majors after his 43rd birthday.
Webb Simpson, the 2012 U.S. Open champion, tied the course record with a 6-under par 64. Simpson, who opened with a 72, was in a four-way tie for seventh at 136 heading into the afternoon session. Simpson played the back nine (his first nine) in 32, then birdied the second, third, fifth and sixth, putting him at 7-under with three holes to go. By parring in, he would have broken the Oak Hill record and equaled the record low of 63 in any major.
But Simpson bogeyed the seventh and parred the last two, settling for his 64. On Thursday, Simpson was 5-over par through his first eight holes. That means he played his next 25 holes in 10-under par to get back in the hunt.
"It was a great day," Simpson said. "I thank the Lord for giving me patience yesterday. At 5-over through eight holes, it was a pretty low moment for me. But I kind of had a pep talk with myself on the seventh green, and you know, just told myself, 'One hole at a time,' and tried to get a birdie here, a birdie there."
"Two-over felt like 64 yesterday after being 5-over. So I was extremely happy with my game today. All around, it was really solid."
A steady rain on Friday morning softened the already receptive greens and prevented a lot of tee shots from rolling into the difficult Oak Hill rough. The field continued to have its way with the East Course. Robert Garrigus birdied four of his first seven holes in the afternoon and moved into a tie with Scott at 7-under. Jason Dufner eagled the second hole, and was 4-under through five holes.
Jim Furyk birdied the first and was at 6-under. You got the feeling that another 64, or even something lower, might still be there.