BLAINE, Minn. -- After lamenting what he considered to be poor conditions at the TPC Twin Cities following his first-round 67 on Thursday, July 4, saying it was “unfortunate” that club members left so many ball marks and divots on the Blaine course leading up to the 3M Open, the course got the best of the world’s No. 1-ranked golfer during Friday’s second round.
Starting his day on the back nine, and laboring through a couple of hours of play, Brooks Koepka imploded on No. 18, finding the water with his tee shot on his way to a triple-bogey 8 and a nine-hole score of 39. Ugh. But he bounced back after that, finishing with a pair of birdies down the stretch to salvage a 72, and entered the clubhouse just above the cut line at 3-under 139 for 36 holes.
That’s a far cry from the low score many expected from Koepka entering the weekend, especially considering how he has dominated majors over the past couple of years. He tried to explain the phenomenon Friday during a brief news conference after his second round.
“You want the answer to why I don’t play well in some regular tour events,” Koepka acknowledged. “If I get a week off, I don’t touch the clubs.
“That’s why I do so well in majors. It’s literally that I’m playing two weeks in a row. I get a good week of practice and then I’m ready to go.”
Before coming to the Twin Cities for the 3M Open, the last competition Koepka had played in was the Travelers Championship on June 20-23. He didn’t swing a club in the meantime, and maybe not surprisingly, has looked a little out of sorts so far.
“Just trying to find a rhythm,” he said. “I hit some good shots. I feel like I’m really close. I made some good putts. I also just lacked a little bit of touch. If I clean that up, and get some good work in, and practice a little bit, I’ll be ready to go for the weekend.”
Pushing one another
Nobody put on a better show Friday than the threesome of Bryson DeChambeau, Charles Howell III and Keegan Bradley.
If it wasn’t DeChambeau tearing up the course on his way to a ridiculous 9-under 62, it was Howell canning an approach shot from 75 yards out for eagle or Bradley nailing a 61-foot putt for an unlikely birdie.
Asked if the three fed off one another throughout the round, Howell said he thought so.
“It’s nice as a golfer to see balls going in the hole and see guys going low and doing well,” he said. “Whatever we want to call it, drafting or whatever, I think it matters.”
For the day, DeChambeau shot 62 to take the second-round lead at 14-under 128, Howell shot 66 to get to 134, and Bradley brought up the rear with a 68 and 138 total.
Hometown hero impresses
Tom Lehman raced out to a 4-under 67 in the first round and followed it with a 2-under 69 to ensure himself a spot in the field over the weekend.
Although the 60-year-old native Minnesotan isn’t exactly in contention, his making the cut is impressive when considering the upper echelon of talent he was going up against.
It helped matters that Lehman spearheaded the redesign of TPC Twin Cities in order to get it ready for its PGA Tour debut. He knows this course about as well as anybody, and that has showed at points.