OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. – At the 2020 BMW Championship, Max Homa missed 10 birdies at Olympia Fields this week and said of the course, “it kicked my ass.”
On Friday, Homa kicked ass. In the second round alone, he carded 10 birdies, a career high on Tour, en route to a course-record 8-under 62.
“I knew I was doing a lot,” Homa said. “I heard the standard bearer say something about how he’s getting tired because he had to change the numbers on our (scoreboard) so much because Pat (Cantlay) was doing a lot as well. It was just a crazy day.”
Crazy good. His 36-hole total of 10-under 130 was good enough for a two-stroke lead over Chris Kirk. His sizzling 62 on a sunny day when the temperature barely reached 80 degrees was two strokes better than Jon Rahm’s 64 at the 2020 BMW and one better than Vijay Singh (2003 US Open), Rickie Fowler (2007) Fighting against the Illini Invitational) and Thomas Detry at the same event eight years later. Homa said he was aware of the course record because he noticed an electronic scoreboard noting that Kirk was challenging the mark. He settled for 66, but the messages planted the seed in Homa’s head.
“Then I had to think about it,” he said.
Homa hit 16 of 18 greens and made 135-foot putts – his 4.32 strokes gained: Putting led the field and was a season best. But it was actually his driving that he singled out as the secret to his successful day.
“I felt like I was able to attack all day. Obviously the greens are still really soft, so being on the fairway as often as I was felt like I was able to be aggressive , when I wanted to, and if I didn’t, I could just play to the middle of the green. ,” he said. “I think out here, when you’re on the fairway, it becomes significantly easier, more so than other golf courses.”
Homa is also thinking of securing a spot on the US Ryder Cup team as well as making a good impression on US captain Zach Johnson if he needs a pick – the top six in the standings qualify automatically and Homa gets in this week in sixth place.
“I told Zach last year that I kissed him, but then he also said, ‘Well, I want to get out of picking you,’ and I said. “Okay, there’s my promise, I’ll try to get a slot machine.” That would be really cool. It’s been my goal since these playoffs started to get in the top six.”
Kirk stands up
For Chris Kirk, his victory at the Honda Classic already feels like a long time ago.
“I played there and I played Bay Hill, then I missed the cut at Players and I came home and my wife and everybody wanted to celebrate and I was kind of bummed that I missed the cut at Players,” he said. . “That’s how we’re connected.”
The good news for Kirk is that his poor golf looks to be fleeting as well. Kirk has struggled of late – missing five cuts in his last eight starts – but shot his second straight 66 on Friday to pull within two strokes of leader Max Homa. Just two weeks ago at the Wyndham Championship, his game was a mess.
“I shot a million over par there and just didn’t feel like I could do anything right,” said Kirk, who actually shot 73-71. “Didn’t hit any fairways and didn’t hit my irons well and couldn’t make a putt. That’s just how it goes sometimes.”
He made a putter change from an Odyssey No. 5 to an Odyssey Versa No. 7 after the second round last week at FedEx St. Jew Championship and he has been a new man.
“Same weight, same length, same loft, same lie, so nothing changes in that regard, just a little bit different to look at,” he said.
“Today was one of those days where I shot 4 under, but it definitely could have been lower than that with all the birdie looks I had,” he said.
Fitzpatrick runs at East Lake
With his back against the wall, Matt Fitzpatrick is producing some of his best golf in months. The Englishman entered the week ranked No. 40 in the FedEx Cup and figures to need a top-5 or 6 finish to qualify for the top 30 and the Tour Championship next week at East Lake for the second straight season .
“I haven’t even looked at it,” Fitzpatrick said of the projected position. “I’m just trying to concentrate on hitting my driver straighter.”
So far so good. On Friday, he followed up an opening-round 66 with a 3-under 67 and sits at 7-under and T-3, which has him expected to jump to No. 17.
“I feel like my game hasn’t been where I want it to be. These two rounds are kind of a really positive step in where I want it to be going forward,” he said.
Fitzpatrick hopes the rain that soaked the course earlier this week has been replaced by sunshine and that the course will continue to dry out and play harder.
“If the weather stays as expected, I think it will be good, yes,” he said. “I remember when it was here a couple of years ago and it was great. On Sunday the greens bordered on yellow and the fairways were driving and it’s going to be a really tough test. You’ve got to hit the fairways. It’s going to be more penalties off the fairway and missing greens, so you really have to plot your way around.”
Brian Harman keeps the good times rolling
This year’s Champion Golfer described himself as “a wood guy.”
“Very jealous of the oak trees here. I love coming up here and it’s always fun to come,” Harman said of playing in the Midwest.
The British Open champion enjoyed another solid day between the oaks, shooting a 2-under 68 to share third place with Matt Fitzpatrick.
“Today was a much dirtier round, for sure. I didn’t drive the ball very well. I hit the ball solid, just couldn’t get it where I wanted it. When I got it where I wanted it, I could attacking the holes and making some birdies,” he said. “I had such a good warm-up, was really excited to get out there, and then it kind of became apparent around the turn, like, man, it’s just one of those days , where you have to grind it out.”
Big names lurk
Five back on the middle of the BMW is a five-way traffic jam at 5 under. That pack of golfers includes the likes of world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, reigning FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, fan favorite Rickie Fowler battling for a Ryder Cup spot and two players trying to secure a spot on next week’s Tour . Championship — Harris English and Justin Rose. Here’s a quick post-round comment from each of them:
“Yeah, I’m not upset,” said Scheffler, who leads the field near the hole but is 41st in the SGP. “I wish I was number one, but I’m not.”
“Anything below par around this golf course is a good round of golf but I wanted more, wanted to move up the board a little bit more than I did, but still a few days to start and see if we can get it going this weekend,” Fowler said.
“Pretty mediocre. One birdie, one bogey. Gave myself tons of chances,” McIlroy said. “I don’t feel like I played too different than I did yesterday. I just got a little bit more out of my round yesterday.”
“I’m on the outside looking in. So for me, there’s no losing attitude this week,” said Rose, who is expected to be No. 24. “This is a huge championship to win. So stay focused on the here and now. “
“I feel like this week is kind of a bonus, kind of playing with house money, and definitely more relaxed this week and just kind of a free run,” said English, who is expected to be No. 36. “I” I looking forward to the next few days. I have played well around this golf course. I like the lines off the tees and it’s one of my favorite golf courses we play.”