Brooks Koepka, recently named the PGA Tour player of the year, gave himself the perfect opportunity to become the No. 1 player in the world when he shot a 7-under-par 65 to move to within one shot of the lead in the CJ Cup in Jeju Island, South Korea, on Friday.
At the Nine Bridges course, the three-time major champion made an eagle on his closing hole to finish 8-under- par 136 after two rounds, just one stroke behind Scott Piercy, who was bogey-free in matching Koepka’s 65.
With the wind subsiding and the course playing much easier than on the opening day when the scoring average was 73.26, 44 players — more than half the field of 78 — had under-par rounds.
Overnight leader Chez Reavie added a 70 to his opening-round 68 to sit in third place at 138, three behind Piercy. Sweden’s Alex Noren was the other player in with a 65, which moved him into a tie for fourth place alongside Ian Poulter (69), four out of the lead.
The best round of the day was a 64 by Brian Harman, who was tied for sixth and five behind Piercy.
The 28-year-old Koepka will move to the top of the world rankings when they are announced on Monday if he wins the tournament, as long as former No. 1 Justin Thomas, the defending champion here, does not finish any better than second.
Thomas, playing alongside Koepka, matched Koepka’s eagle on the last, but that was only for a 70 and he is tied for 22nd place at 1-under.
Kim leads LPGA Shanghai
Sei Young Kim led the LPGA Shanghai by one stroke at the halfway point after shooting a 5-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday.
Kim made six birdies, including four straight from the sixth hole, to move to a 10-under 134 total. Her only setback was a bogey on the par-4 15th.
Danielle Kang (68) and overnight leader Ariya Jutanugarn (69) were one shot back.
Brittany Altomare had six birdies in a bogey-free round of 66, and was tied for fourth with Bronte Law (68) and Brittany Lincicome (68).
Angel Lin eagled the par-5 17th and finished with the day’s lowest score of 65, which also included six birdies and a lone bogey.