Sizzling 62 has Kokrak in front
While big-hitting Jason Kokrak has an AT&T Byron Nelson record five-stroke lead through 36 holes, he knows that is only halfway with plenty of other players who could make a weekend charge.
That includes top-ranked Dustin Johnson. But not local favorite Jordan Spieth after he missed the cut Friday for the first time at the tournament where he made his debut as a 16-year-old high school junior.
“Yeah, a bit shocking that’s how it happened,” said Spieth, who missed the cut by a stroke after a 5-under 75 that included a 9 at the par-5 16th hole after he hit two tee shots out of bounds.
Kokrak, a Warren JFK graduate who is ranked 128th in the world, shot a bogey-free 8-under 62 for his career-best scoring round and matched the Nelson’s 36-hole record at 12-under 128. No one has ever had a bigger lead there after two rounds than his five strokes over Billy Horschel (65), who finished with three consecutive birdies.
“It’s 36 holes. You’ve got the No. 1 player in the world chasing you, you’ve got x-number of other players that are outstanding players,” Kokrak said, when asked about having wiggle room. “Same game plan, just give myself birdie opportunities.”
Maybe as surprising as Kokrak’s big lead halfway through the last Nelson to be played at TPC Four Seasons is the 23-year-old Spieth, the 2015 Masters and U.S. Open champion, done playing this week.
Spieth also missed the cut last week in The Players Championship. He last missed consecutive cuts in 2015.
With a 3-over total after the horrendous 16th hole, and needing at least one birdie, Spieth’s 17-foot birdie try at No. 17 curled by the cup, and he missed a 14-footer on 18.
Kokrak finished with a nice par save after driving way right at the 18th. The ball landed in the rough closer to the first fairway with a temporary concession stand between him and the hole. He didn’t take potential relief because that line would have put him directly behind a tree, but he hit the ball back in the fairway short of the green before chipping to 6 feet.
“I made a lot of birdies out there but it was nice,” Kokrak said. “Just keeping a clean card is always a goal. ... It was nice to get it up and down.”
The only other time Kokrak had the 36-hole lead in 146 career PGA Tour starts was at the 2016 Northern Trust Open, where he ended up with a career-best tie for second.