Robert Streb tied the major championship record of 63, the 30th time it’s been done in a Grand Slam event, and even he didn’t see it coming.
Streb sank a 21-foot birdie putt while finishing his 7-under-par round on the ninth hole to tie Jimmy Walker for the lead midway through the 98th PGA Championship on the Lower Course at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J.
“It’s been a big of a struggle for t he last year or so,” said Streb, whose only PGA Tour came in the 2014 McGladrey Classic. “It was nice to get something going and pretty exciting to shoot 63.
“I’m going to try to stick to what I’m doing and not going to make it more than it is. I’m just going to try to have fun playing golf the best I can.”
Walker, who held the first-round lead at 65, still had sole possession of the top spot after making three birdies in a row through the 14th hole in what was a bogey-free round through 17 holes.
Then he drove into the water on the final hole and made his lone bogey in a 66.
“The course was softer that it has been, for sure,” said Walker, who has won five times on the PGA Tour but is looking for his first major title. “The greens are pretty soft so if you drive the ball in the fairway, you can pretty much to what you want from there.
“I’m going to go back and play with my kids and get a good night’s sleep. It’s going to be a long day (on Saturday), but the family keeps me busy. It’s fun.”
Top-ranked Jason Day recorded seven birdies in a span of eight holes through No. 15 in a 65 and was two shots down in a tie for third with Emiliano Grillo of Argentina, who was mistake-free in a 67 until a bogey on his next-to-last hole, No 8.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who won the Open Championship two weeks ago at Royal Troon, carded a second consecutive 67 and was another stroke back in solo fifth, while
Martin Kaymer of Germany, the 2010 PGA champion, totaled 69 and was four down in a tie for sixth with Patrick Reed, who had a 65, and Brooks Koepka, who came in at 67.
Rickie Fowler of Murrieta carded a second 68 and was five strokes behind in a tie for ninth with Hideki Matsuyama of Japan and Jamie Donaldson of Wales, who both shot 67, and Harris English, who came in at 69.
Third-ranked Jordan Spieth posted a 67 and was in a tie for 13th that included Zach Johnson, who had a 66, and Adam Scott of Australia, who finished at 67.
Masters champion Danny Willett of England and Phil Mickelson shot 70s to make the cut by two strokes in a tie for 61st.
Fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, a two-time PGA champion, wound up at 74-69–143 to miss the cut by one stroke, while Sergio Garcia missed at 71-74–145 and second-ranked Dustin Johnson, the U.S. Open champion, went home after shooting 77-72–149.