After a year spent traveling the world, Brooks Koepka suddenly is in a position to play a lot more golf at home.
In his first regular PGA Tour event, Koepka surged to the top of the leaderboard Friday in the Frys.com Open in San Martin, Calif., with a 7-under 64, giving him a one-shot lead over Jason Kokrak (65) going into the weekend at CordeValle.
But, the low round of the day – a 9-under 62 – belonged to Olympia’s Andres Gonzales, who could use a big week.
The Capital High graduate thought he had his PGA Tour card wrapped up at the Web.com Tour Championship last month until Lee Williams made a 55-foot birdie putt on the last hole, and Andrew Loupe made a 5-foot par putt right behind him to knock Gonzales out. He’s in the Frys.com Open only because he finished in the top 10 in the previous PGA Tour event in August.
Gonzales’ 62, a career low that also tied the course record, left him five shots out of the lead.
Koepka, a 23-year-old Floridian, received a sponsor’s exemption into the PGA Tour season opener between stops in Scotland and Shanghai. He had no status at the start of the year after failing to advance beyond the second stage of Q-school last year. Instead of trying to qualify for Web.com Tour events, Koepka packed his bags and passport for a 15-country journey that has served him well.
He won three times on the Challenge Tour to earn his European Tour card. He played the Dunhill Links in Scotland two weeks ago and in two weeks heads to the BMW Masters in Shanghai.
A win at the Frys.com Open would give him a two-year PGA Tour exemption.
“There’s no pressure. Just enjoying it right now,” Koepka said. “Looking forward to the weekend. I don’t see any pressure. Yeah, it would be big. Obviously, be nice to win and get status over here. But you play good, everything kind of takes care of itself.”
It has so far — not just the last two days, but all year.
Koepka, who made eight birdies and an eagle, was at 11-under 131.
With no wind in the afternoon, the cut was at even-par 142. Because more than 78 players made the cut, there will be a 54-hole cut Saturday for the top 70 and ties.
Robert Garrigus (63) and Jim Herman (66) were two shots behind, while Camilo Villegas shot 66 and was another shot behind at 8-under 134. Kevin Tway, son of former PGA champion Bob Tway, had a 65 and was among those at 135. Lurking five shots behind with Gonzales were the Japanese duo of Hideki Matsuyama (66) and Ryo Ishikawa (67).
Ilhee Lee of South Korea kept her lead at the LPGA Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, while 18-year-old American Lexi Thompson shot an 8-under 63 that left her one stroke behind after two rounds. Lee, seeking her second title on the LPGA Tour, had a 65 that left her at 13-under 129. … Larry Nelson shot his age – 66 – for a share of the lead at 6 under with Russ Cochran and Mark Mouland at the SAS Championship in Cary, N.C., while Nick Faldo failed to finish the round in his first regular Champions Tour event. Faldo withdrew after 12 holes because of an elbow injury. … Paul Waring shot an 8-under 63 to tie for the lead with fellow Englishman David Lynn (65) and South Africa’s Hennie Otto (64) at 12-under 130 after the second round of the Portugal Masters in Vilamoura.
This week: Frys.com Open, through Sunday, CordeValle Golf Club, San Martin, Calif.
Second-round score: 9-under-par 62.
Position: The Capital High School graduate is at 6-under-par 136 and tied for 11th — five shots behind leader Brooks Koepka (11-under 131).
Recap: Wow, what a move by Gonzales. Playing under calmer morning conditions, and on a day when the average score was more than two strokes better than on Thursday, Gonzales not only had a career-low score on the PGA Tour, but he also tied the course record. He had five birdies on the back nine — his first nine holes — and finished with four consecutive birdies at Nos. 6-9. His last birdie came when he got up and down from in front of the ninth green, rolling in a 5-foot putt. His previous best round on the PGA Tour was a 64 at this year’s Wyndham Championship, which netted him the top-10 finish he needed to get into this week’s event.
Tee time Friday: 11:10 a.m. off the first tee with Justin Hicks and Ryo Ishikawa.email@example.com