Adam Scott isn’t intimidated by how Brooks Koepka is handling Bethpage Black. He also is aware that if Koepka keeps at it, Scott’s chances of winning a second major are nonexistent.
Scott was flirting with a PGA Championship record score of 62 on Friday before stumbling at the par-3 17th, missing a short par putt. He made par at No. 18 to finish off a 6-under 64 that was the best score of the second round.
Yet four groups behind him, defending champion Koepka was adding a 65 to his opening, record-equaling 63 that gave him a seven-stroke lead — and more records.
“Well, it has to come to an end eventually, that good front-running,” the Australian said with a laugh. “Let’s hope it’s not 12 years like Tiger’s front-running lasted.”
Koepka has won three majors in the last two years and finished second at the Masters to Tiger Woods. His steadiness in the biggest events has been remarkable, something Scott recognizes.
But he also knows this is a course that can overwhelm even the best and hottest players.
“I think there’s doubles left and right out there once you get out of position,” Scott said. “Hey, if the guy can just keep doing that for another two days, then there’s not much you can do. But I think someone, hopefully me, will chip away tomorrow and sneak up in the right direction. If he didn’t have a hot day tomorrow, the gap narrows and there’s pressure over whatever lead he might have or might not on Sunday.
“Yeah, I know he’s won three majors. I know he seems impenetrable at the moment in this position, but at some point he’s got to think about it.”
Scott was thinking good thoughts even after a double bogey on his 17th hole Thursday pushed him from 1 under par to 1 over. He felt his putting, which was not satisfactory in his last start in New Orleans — Scott and partner Jason Day missed the cut in the team event — had been improving.
Apparently, he was right. The 2013 Masters champion who has not won on any tour since 2016 had 29 putts on Thursday and followed with 26 on Friday. He hit only six of 14 fairways, so clearly his putter was the key to the round.
“I made all my putts in the beginning of the round,” he said with a chuckle. “I left some shots out there, but 64 on this course …”.
Of course, another 64 — or two— might be required to challenge Koepka, who is at 12 under. Koepka shattered the 36-hole record in all four majors at 128. Scott is at 135, tied with Jordan Spieth.
Scott’s history at the PGA is impressive enough, with five top-10 finishes, including third last year to Koepka at Bellerive. This season, he’s finished in the top 10 in three tournaments, including second at Torrey Pines.
Tracking down the runaway Koepka will take some doing.
“To be honest, I feel like I’ve just got my head into a good place this week,” he said. “I thought (Thursday), I played pretty well. I was grinding it out and I was 1 under and then, you know, you throw a bad swing on it and you shoot 1 over, and all of a sudden, you feel like it’s a completely different feeling on the whole day.
“But generally, I feel like my game’s in a really great place. If I can get out of my own head a little bit and just play and swing, I think good results are there. So that’s what I tried to do today. Just kind of look down my target and give it a good, full swing.”