NEWTOWN SQUARE, July 1, 2011 (AFP) - South Korean K.J. Choi matched a course-record with a six-under par 64 on Friday to seize a two-stroke lead after the second round of the $6.2 million US PGA National.
Choi, who won the event in 2007 when it was played at Congressional Country Club near Washington, dominated the Aronimink Golf Club with seven birdies against a lone bogey to stand on seven-under 133 after 36 holes.
"As I kept making birdies, I noticed that the reactions of the gallery, the people were very positive, and I started feeling that this was going to be a special round," Choi said.
"I'm very happy. This course is very difficult. The iron shots are very hard and it's very tough over the greens to make par. Today was more concentration, iron play and good reads. That's why the good scoring."
Choi's countryman Charlie Wi and Americans Justin Leonard, Chris Riley and Bo Van Pelt shared second on 135. Americans Kyle Stanley, Jeff Overton, Bryce Molder and Charles Howell shared sixth on 136.
Choi, who began on the back nine, took a bogey at the 11th after finding deep rough off the tee, but answered with birdies at the par-4 15th and par-5 16th.
Choi began a run of four birdies in a row at the fourth hole and finished with another at the par-5 ninth thanks to a wedge shot that landed inches from the cup.
"The first four or five holes I still felt my body was a little bit slow today, but going into probably the 12th hole I felt that I was getting my rhythm back," Choi said.
"With regards to the putter, I think my putter felt good starting from the first hole. I had a trust within myself that I'd be able to play a better front nine, and I was able to make five birdies. So I think that was the key."
Coming off a victory in the Players Championship in May that was his first US PGA triumph in more than three years, Choi is seeking his ninth US tour crown overall.
With $2.996 million in prize money this season, Choi ranks fourth on the US PGA money list. That comes despite some fatigue after a hectic schedule following the Players, including the Byron Nelson, Memorial and US Open with a trip to South Korea mixed within.
"It was just fatigue from traveling to Korea and back, and then with the consecutive tournaments," Choi said. "It was more jet lag more than anything."
Choi's playing partner was Australian Adam Scott, who led after firing an opening-round 66 but shot a 71 on Friday to stumble back into a share of 10th on 137 with Americans Joe Ogilvie and Rickie Fowler.
After a double-bogey at the par-3 14th in which Scott three-putted from 45 feet, he birdied the 15th only to bogey the par-3 17th and par-4 third. Birdies at the par-3 fifth and par-4 seventh provided hope for the weekend.
"Those birdies were really big," Scott said. "It's easy to get it stuck in reverse on a course like this. Playing with K.J., the way he was going at the end, it was nice to keep in touch.
"Overall I'm in good position. Just need to stay with it, with the leaders tomorrow, and put myself in the mix Sunday.
Defending champion Justin Rose of England fired a 72 on Friday to stand nine back of Choi.
US veteran Jim Furyk missed the cut at his fourth event in a row, the first time he has gone so long without making the final rounds at US PGA events in 16 years.
Scores on Friday after the second round of the $6.2 million US PGA National (USA unless noted, par 70):
133 - KJ Choi (KOR) 69-64
135 - Chris Riley 69-66, Charlie Wi (KOR) 69-66, Justin Leonard 68-67, Bo Van Pelt 69-66
136 - Charlie Howell 68-68, Bryce Molder 69-67, Jeff Overton 71-65, Kyle Stanley 67-69
137 - Adam Scott (AUS) 66-71, Rickie Fowler 68-69, Joe Ogilvie 67-70
138 - John Merrick 68-70, Troy Matteson 68-70, Vijay Singh (FIJ) 68-70, Spencer Levin 70-68, Chris Stroud 70-68, Kevin Na 69-69, Bill Haas 68-70, Jonhattan Vegas (VEN) 67-71
139 - Trevor Immelman (RSA) 69-70, Robert Allenby (AUS) 71-68, David Hearn (CAN) 69-70
141 - Andres Romero (ARG) 71-70, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM) 70-71, Mike Weir (CAN) 71-70
142 - Justin Rose (ENG) 70-72, Geoff Ogilvy (AUS) 71-71, Ryuji Imada (JPN) 72-70
143 - Rod Pampling (AUS) 74-69, Brian Davis (ENG) 71-72, Stephen Ames (CAN) 72-71, Carl Pettersson (SWE) 73-70
Failed to qualify
144 - Michael Sim (AUS) 73-71
145 - Camilo Villegas (COL) 74-71
146 - Nick O'Hern (AUS) 72-74, Matt Jones (AUS) 77-69
147 - Greg Chalmers (AUS) 75-72
148 - Arjun Atwal (IND) 77-71
150 - Steven Bowditch (AUS) 77-73, Mark Leishman (AUS) 80-70
DQ - Stuart Appleby (AUS) 72-75