Molinari just birdied No. 14 — his third birdie in five holes — to get to -5 for the tournament. Only two back of the lead! No. 144 is a 422-yard par 4 and Spieth hammers a fairway wood into the fairway. He’s swinging very well today. Rahm opts to go with driver and finds the right-side fairway. Rose also goes with driver and hits one into the center of the fairway.
Justin Rose converts his first birdie of the day to get to -4 only two shots back of the lead. Rahm and Spieth miss and settle for pars. Our featured group meanwhile has three nice looks at birdie on No. 14. Gary Woodland just bogeyed No. 14 so there’s now a three-way tie for the lead at -6: Woodland Kisner and South Africa’s Brandon Stone.
So far only two players in the afternoon wave are taking advantage of the good conditions: Jason Dufner and Y.E. Yang. Both are -2 through 3. Both are former PGA Champions.
Woods fans his approach just a touch finds the green but will have 30 feet left for birdie. Alright the man you’ve been waiting to hear about. Tiger Woods (!!) hits the fairway on the first.
Rahm makes par! That was gutty stuff to stay at five under. Pumps his fist as it dropped. Top of the leaderboard taking shape. Koepka in the house at eight under. DJ one back at seven under. Saturday gonna be fun.
Ben Kern birdies his last hole to shoot 69 and sit at even for the event. Hoping he makes the cut! Tiger is in the fairway with another iron off the tee. Tony Finau has birdied all five of his holes to start today. Is that good? Meanwhile Tiger makes his par.
Kevin Kisner has birdied three of his first four holes to get to -6 for the tournament — one shot back of Woodland’s lead. A bogey for DJ on No. 15 drops him to -2 for the tournament. No. 13 is a 172-yard par 3 that requires a full carry over a ravine. All three players are safely on the green but Rahm has the best look at birdie.
“Distance is not so important here as you might think” Gary Player said after winning the 1965 U.S. Open at a 7200-yard Bellerive (the longest-ever U.S. Open at the time). Will that hold true this week?
JT has 226 left to the green and comes up a little short but he’s in the fairway and it’s not bad. No. 4 is a par 4 playing over 500 yards today. TW hits it a little left and JT loses his in the rough to the right. Rory smokes it right down the middle.
Gary Woodland just made a rare eagle on No. 17 to get to two under par on the day and eight under par for the tournament. He’s a co-leader now with Kisner who just made another birdie to get to five under on the day.
Brooks Koepka is on fire. Makes the turn in three under on the day and then birdies three straight to begin his second nine (the front) and is now seven under and in solo second. Woodland and Kisner both still tied at nine under through 11 holes.
Bubba Watson has reached -2 early as well: Look out Dustin Johnson is making a run. He birdies 8 to move to -2. That’s three birdies in a row for the top-ranked player.