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Monday, December 11, 2023

Max Homa fires course record 62 to grab BMW Championship lead

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Seventh-ranked Max Homa set a course record with an eight-under par 62 to seize a two-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship, the penultimate FedEx Cup playoff event.

The 32-year-old American made 10 birdies against two bogeys at Olympia Fields in suburban Chicago to break the old mark of 63 shared by Fiji’s Vijay Singh and American Rickie Fowler.

“It was fun. It was pretty cool,” Homa said. “It’s rare you get to kind of just point and shoot but that’s what it felt like.

“I was putting uphill a lot, I made a couple sidewinders, just kind of did everything well, so it was a very fun day.”

Homa matched his career-low PGA round from last year’s Tour Championship to stand on 10-under 130 after 36 holes, two better than compatriot Chris Kirk with England’s Matt Fitzpatrick, the 2022 US Open champion, and American Brian Harman, last month’s British Open winner, sharing third on 133.

“I know 36 holes is a long way to go but at the same time I’m going to enjoy what I did today,” Homa said. “I’m going to take with me that I’m playing some very good golf.”

In addition to a $3.6 million top prize, 50 players seek a top-30 spot in season points to qualify for next week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Homa, who won his sixth career PGA title at Torrey Pines in January, missed only two greens and four fairways, making six birdies in eight holes on the back nine before a closing par.

“I birdied most of the holes on the back nine, and that was quite a nice feeling,” Homa said. “I holed a lot of putts, which you have to do to make 10 birdies, but I was very proud of how I drove it. I felt like I was able to attack all day.”

The course was still soft from rains earlier this week, allowing Homa to be aggressive with receptive greens and fairways.

“Greens are still really soft, so being in the fairway as often as I was, it felt like I was able to be aggressive when I wanted,” Homa said.

“The tee ball set up everything. It was a major bonus to make as many putts as I did.”

Homa sank a five-foot birdie putt at the par-5 first hole, a 10-footer at the fourth and a birdie putt from inside three feet at the fifth. He birdied from just inside 10 feet at seven after finding a fairway bunker but made bogey at the par-3 eighth.

His sizzling putter sparked a back-nine charge that included five birdies in the first six holes — on a 13-foot putt at 10, a 22-foot putt at 11, an 18-foot putt at the par-3 13th, a 13-footer at 14 to seize the solo lead and a six-footer at the par-5 15th to reach 10-under.

Homa missed the green and a 14-foot par putt to bogey the par-3 16th, then answered by sinking a 20-foot birdie putt at 17.

Rory ‘didn’t convert’

Kirk, who was clinging to an Atlanta berth at 29th in points, fired his second 66.

“I played well all around,” Kirk said. “I hit my irons really fantastic.”

Reigning FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, co-leader after an opening 65, shot 70 to share fifth with England’s Justin Rose and Americans Fowler, Harris English and top-ranked Scottie Scheffler.

Second-ranked McIlroy could overtake Scheffler with a victory.

“I just didn’t convert anything,” McIlroy said. “Hit a lot of good putts. Hit a lot of edges. Just didn’t really get anything to drop.”

Fourth-ranked American Patrick Cantlay, the two-time defending champion, shot 68 to stand on 136.

American Lucas Glover, the 2009 US Open champion who won PGA titles the past two weeks, was on 137.

Playoff points leader Jon Rahm, the reigning Masters champion from Spain, shot 74 to stand on 142 after his first birdie-less round outside the majors in five years.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, withdrew with a back injury.


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