Jason Kokrak hits a tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the AT&T National at Congressional Country Club. File photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo
IRVING, Texas -- Just about everything has gone well for journeyman PGA Tour player Jason Kokrak over the first two days of the AT&T Byron Nelson.
He has been on the right side of the draw away from the blustery conditions each round, has received the right bounces when he's needed them and made pars when momentum might have been stopped with bogeys.
Kokrak, who's still looking for his initial PGA Tour win in his 146th attempt, fired a career-low 8-under-par 62 on Friday to roar to a five-shot lead at 12-under 128 after the second round at the TPC Las Colinas in this northeast suburb of Dallas.
His two-day total tied the low 36-hole score for this tournament, as posted by Ben Crane in 2012.
"Anytime you can have a bogey-free round on any golf course on the PGA Tour is awesome," Kokrak said. "I made a lot of birdies out there and it was nice. I'm normally a pretty aggressive player and that's how I played today. You know, I very rarely go away from the flags but I know when and where. If a shot fits my eye or I see it, I like to pull the trigger."
Kokrak's round included eight birdies (four on each side), no bogeys, a 12-foot par putt on the 10th hole and a seven-foot par putt on the 18th after hitting his drive into the trees to the right of the fairway.
Former FedEx Cup and Tour Championship winner Billy Horschel carded a 65 on Friday and is alone in second at 133.
Six players, including World No. 1 Dustin Johnson (67), Cameron Tringale (68), Byeong Hun An of South Korea (66), Bud Cauley (67), Jhonattan Vegas of Venezuela (68) and first-round co-leader James Hahn (70) are six shots back at 134.
"This morning, the first nine holes we played the wind was howling, really blowing hard like it was yesterday the whole day," Johnson said. "But it kind of laid back with six holes to go. It was just another solid round. I felt like I played pretty well. You know, bogeyed the last hole but I hit two good shots there and other than that, it was pretty solid day. The game is still not quite as sharp as it was leading into Augusta, but it's getting there -- it's getting close."
Peter Malnati (68), Grayson Murray (63), Chad Campbell (67) and Morgan Hoffmann were another stroke back at 135 with Sean O'Hair (69), Ryan Armour (69), Australia's Rod Pampling (67) and Brooks Koepka (69) at 136, eight shots off the pace.
World No. 2 Jason Day of Australia (69), Zac Blair (68), J.J. Henry (69), Willy Wilcox (67), Scott Piercy (69) and first-round co-leader Ricky Barnes finished the second round with a total of 137. They lead a pack of eight golfers who are nine shots behind the leaders.
Defending champion and recent Masters winner Sergio Garcia shot a 65 and moved back into contention at 138.
Kokrak is excited about the chance to break into the winner's circle but understands there's still plenty of golf to play.
"I mean it's 36 holes," Kokrak said. "I've got the No. 1 player in the world chasing me and I've got X number of other players that are outstanding players that they're all chasing me. I'll stick to the same game plan to just try to give myself birdie opportunities. I'm rolling the putter pretty well."
Hometown favorite and world No. 6 player Jordan Spieth shot a 75 on Friday and missed the cut. He was shaky with the putter all day but the wheels came off for good when he hit two balls out of bounds on the par-5 16th hole, eventually settling for a quadruple bogey nine on the hole. Spieth had makeable birdie putts on the final two holes to get under the cut line (which was at 2-over 142) but missed both.
"Those were just kind of a fluke couple shots (that went out of bounds) and I fought hard, had two really good looks in the last two," Spieth said. "I missed one to the right and one to the left and I'm pretty disappointed at this point in time. I'm not far off. It doesn't look like that on paper but it feels very close."
It's the only time Spieth has missed the cut in seven tries at this event and the first time since the 2015 Northern Trust Open and the Dell Technologies Match Play that he's missed the cut in back-to-back weeks.
Among other players missing the cut were Hunter Mahan, Bryson DeChambeau, Bryce Molder, J.B. Holmes, Ryo Ishikawa of Japan, Harris English, Graham DeLaet of Canada, Brandt Snedeker, Angel Cabrera of Argentina, former PGA Championship winner Y.E. Yang of South Korea and Ryan Moore.
NOTES: Only two players have won this tournament, in its 63rd edition, in wire-to-wire fashion: Mark Hayes in 1976 and Tom Watson in 1980. ... At the suggestion of 2015 AT&T Byron Nelson winner Steven Bowditch, players, officials and caddies wore Rubik's Cube stickers to show support for fellow PGA Tour professional John Senden and his family. Last month, Senden announced he was taking indefinite leave from the Tour after his son Jacob was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. The Rubik's cube is one of his son's favorite toys. ... The AT&T Byron Nelson is the third of four legs of the traditional Texas Swing (not counting the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin) on the PGA Tour. Australia's Adam Scott is the only player to win the Texas Grand Slam (2007 Shell Houston Open, 2008 AT&T Byron Nelson, 2009 Valero Texas Open, 2014 Dean & DeLuca Invitational).