CHARLOTTE, North Carolina – American Kevin Kisner, seeking his first major title, birdied three of his opening six holes to seize a two-stroke lead early in Friday’s second round of the 99th PGA Championship.
World number 25 Kisner stood on 6-under-par at Quail Hollow in the year’s final major tournament, with Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and American DA Points on 4-under.
Kisner, who grew up only a two-hour drive south of the course, fired a four-under 67 Thursday to share the 18-hole lead with Olesen, among the latest day-two starters.
Kisner began round two off the 10th tee and found a fairway bunker, but blasted out into the fairway, dropped his approach 10 feet from the cup and sank the birdie putt to seize the lead alone.
After sinking a six-foot birdie putt at the par-4 12th, Kisner gave one back on the par-3 13th, missing then green, chipping back into the fairway, then rolling the ball to five feet and making his bogey putt.
Kisner sank a five-footer for birdie at the par-5 15th to reach the stretch known as “The Green Mile” – the toughest three holes on the 7 600-yard layout on day one.
But Kisner sank a testy eight-foot par putt at 16, escaped a bunker to par the par-3 17th and made a routine par at 18.
Kisner, 33, endured four runner-up finishes in 2015 before a breakthrough first US PGA Tour victory at Sea Island, Georgia, in his 109th attempt. He captured his second tour crown three months ago at Colonial and was also a runner-up this year at Bay Hill and New Orleans.
Points, who won his first US PGA title in four years in March at the Puerto Rico Open, birdied three of the last six holes on the front nine to join Olesen in second.
There were other charges among the early starters, with South Korean An Byeong-Hun making eagle at the par-5 seventh. He also opened the front nine with a bogey and the back nine with a birdie to stand 2-under.
US star Rickie Fowler was 1-under through 10 holes, moving into a pack on 3-under that included compatriots Gary Woodland, Chris Stroud, Grayson Murray and US Open champion Brooks Koepka.
Fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy began on the back nine with eight pars and a lone birdie at the par-5 15th, blasting out of a bunker to eight feet and sinking the putt.
The 28-year-old from Northern Ireland is trying to join Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players to capture five career major titles before their 30th birthday. He has not won a major title since the 2014 PGA.
World number two Jordan Spieth, chasing his fourth career major title and completion of a career Grand Slam at age 24, would become the youngest player to win all four majors at least once if he can lift the Wanamaker Trophy this weekend.
Spieth, coming off a British Open triumph last month, tees off in the afternoon heat alongside this year’s fellow major champions, Koepka and Masters winner Sergio Garcia of Spain.
Spieth, who also won the 2015 US Open and Masters, would join Nicklaus, Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen on the career Slam list with victory. He could also become the first player to complete the career Slam by winning the PGA.