By Adam Schupak
Shane Lowry can’t catch a break. It’s been a bit of a struggle for the Irishman this year, but just as his game looked to be heating up — he made three birdies in his first 10 holes — he had to cool off as play at the 100th PGA Championship was suspended due to inclement weather.
Nothing could dampen Lowry’s spirits a day earlier as he talked about how his game appeared to be finally turning a corner. He’s finished T-12 and T-15 in his two starts on the PGA Tour, and was climbing the leaderboard at the season’s final major before the horn sounded.
“It’s been a while since I’ve felt this content about it,” Lowry said. “Normally when I am doing interviews with you lads, I have my bottom lip hanging out.”
Lowry was 4 under through 28 holes when rain doused Bellerive Country Club and washed out the rest of the round. Play is expected to resume at 7 a.m. local time. The third round will begin approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of Round 2 with players going off split tees and threesomes.
The rest of the Irish contingent will have their work cut out to make the cut. Rory McIlroy, who entered the week as one of the favorites, made seven pars to open his second round and has made 16 pars in a row. That would’ve been useful at either of the Opens, but par is taking a beating at the PGA. Padraig Harrington also is straddling the cutline after a birdie and bogey through eight holes to remain 1 over. Pulling up the rear is Paul Dunne, who slipped to 4 over with 12 holes to go in his round, and complained that he’s struggling tee to green.
“I’m playing poorly,” he conceded.
Through 36 holes, American Gary Woodland has had the winning combination. He fired a 4-under 66 Friday and set the PGA’s 36-hole scoring record of 10-under 130. It’s good for a 1-stroke lead over Kevin Kisner, who led after each of the first three rounds at the PGA Championship last year before stumbling on Sunday.
Kisner shot 6-under 29 on his opening nine holes and had a putt for 62, but gunned it past the hole, missed the comebacker for his lone bogey and settled for 64. But two other players — U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka and former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel — went a stroke better and also had putts at 62 and a piece of major championship history.
Koepka was alone in third at 8-under 132, one stroke ahead of Schwartzel, World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who shot 66, Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, and Rickie Fowler, who still had eight holes remaining when play was suspended.
Bellerive already was playing soft after a storm on Tuesday, leading McIlroy to describe it as “target golf,” and players will continue to take dead aim at the defenseless course. How much of a difference will the rain make in the course conditions this weekend? Dunne, for one, said to expect the birdie barrage to continue.
“The greens are already holding big time,” Dunne said. “We’ll just be a little more sleep-deprived out there.”