Max Homa of Valencia and Cal is riding high, in more ways than one.
The seventh-ranked Homa carded a course-record, eight-under-par 62 and took a two-stroke lead over Chris Kirk midway through the BMW Championship, second event of the PGA Tour playoffs, on the North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club just outside Chicago.
Not only that, Homa is projected as the FedEx Cup points leader.
Only the top 50 players in the point standings were eligible for the second event of the playoffs, with just the top 30 after Sunday qualifying for the Tour Championship next week at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, where the FedEx Cup champion will be determined.
“I was in complete control and that was so much fun,” said Homa, who won the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this season for his sixth PGA Tour victory and eighth as a professional. “It was one of those rare days where I hit virtually every shot exactly the way I wanted to. I was just a special round. I just kept the ball in play all day.
“My ball-striking has been pretty good all along, but now I’m getting so much better on the greens. My stroke feels so much better and I’m just trusting it. I made a bunch of putts and barely missed a few others, so I’m just going to keep doing what I have been doing on the greens because it feels good.
“This is a hard golf course and it kicked by butt a few years ago, but I’ve been playing well lately, including last week and just kept it going today.”
Homa, who won the 2013 NCAA Division I Individual Championship while at Cal, birdied four of the first seven holes and added six birdies on the back nine while making only two bogeys in his 62 to record a 36-hole score of 10-under-par 130.
Kirk made three straight birdies through No. 6 while posting a second straight 66, although this one was bogey-free.
“I played well all around,” said Kirk, who has won five times on the PGA Tour and eight times as a pro, including the Honda Classic in February, despite battling alcoholism and depression in the past. “I hit my irons really fantastic.
“Today was one of those days where I shot four-under, but it certainly could have been lower than that with all the birdie looks that I had,” Kirk said. “But I certainly would have taken it at the start of the day. I’d gladly take two more of them.”
Tenth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England made three birdies on the back nine in a 67 and is three shots behind in a tie for third with eight-ranked Brian Harman, the 151st Open champion and first-round co-leader at 65, who made three birdies down the stretch in a 68.
Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler had one birdie to go with 17 pars in a 69 and is five back in a tie for fifth with second-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the three-time FedEx Cup champion and the other first-round co-leader, who managed a 70; Justin Rose of England, the 2018 FedEx Cup champion, who birdied the last two holes for a 65; Harris English, who also birdied the last two holes for a 67, and Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, who made two late bogeys in a 69.
Fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA, the two-time defending BMW champion, made two birdies on each nine in a 68 and is six strokes down in a tie for 10th with sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, who made an early bogey before reeling off six birdies in a 65, and Sungjae Im of South Korea, who had three birdies on the back nine in a 68.
Fifth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway made three early birdies in a 68 and is in a tie for 13th that includes U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark, who had three birdies in a 71, and Lucas Glover, the 2009 U.S. Open champion and winner of the Wyndham Championship and the FedEx St. Jude Championship the last two weeks, who made his lone bogey on the last hole in a 67.
Third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, the reigning Masters champion and the FedEx Cup points leader at the start of the week, didn’t make a single birdie in his 74 and is tied for 35th.
Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, the 2021 Masters champion, withdrew before the start of the second round because of a back injury.
For complete results, third-round tee times and the FedEx Cup standings, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard