We’re halfway through the first major of 2020 and our leaders are… unexpected. There are plenty of big names circling, and we should have an exciting weekend ahead of us.

Haotong Leader

Haotong Li hasn’t finished inside the top 20 of a PGA Tour event in over a year. But golf is a fickle game. The 25-year-old from China fired a 65 to grab the 36-hole lead at the PGA Championship. Leaderboard

Li hasn’t taken the easy road. On Friday, he found just four fairways yet somehow managed to hit 14 greens. He also putted the lights-out in the first two rounds, a skill he has struggled with for most of his career.

Everyone was excited to see Li play the rest of the weekend and chase his first major title when he walked off the golf course around 2:00 p.m. EDT. Then, hours later, Li reappeared on the range at TPC Harding Park. As of 10 p.m. EDT, he’s still out there. He’ll have a long break ahead of tomorrow’s round, so maybe the extra practice won’t tire him out.

He played so well Eiffel out my chair

Unless you listen to the Shotgun Start (which you should), you may not have heard about Mike Lorenzo-Vera. The French journeyman plays the majority of his golf in Europe, and while he finished inside the top 20 of the Race to Dubai last year, he hasn’t won a professional event since his triumph on the Challenge Tour in 2007. Yes, 2007. He hasn’t exactly played well this week, either. MLV has done most of his damage on and around the greens, gaining more than seven strokes on the field in those areas. He sits at -6, two shots off the pace. Do we expect him to be in contention come Sunday? No. Would his personality be a beautiful addition to the drama? YES.

Sharks and minnows?

While we didn’t expect Mike Lorenzo-Vera to be among the leaders, the rest of the group at -6 consists of absolute sharks. Daniel Berger, Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Rose are all tied with MLV. Given the pedigree of this group, you have to expect one of them to step up on Saturday and win on Sunday.

A good Friday

After quarantining for a few weeks in the Hamptons, Tommy Fleetwood has struggled to get his footing on U.S. soil. That changed on Friday, when he reeled off a nearly flawless 64 to get within two shots of the lead. Fleetwood hasn’t even had his best iron game to this point, which should really scare his competitors. The silky-haired Englishman is a gentle soul and would be a fan favorite if he contends on Sunday.

Odds and ends

There comes a time in every major championship when the winner loses his mojo for a stretch and has to grind it out. Brooks Koepka might have had just such a stretch today. Still, the two-time defending champion managed to birdie the 18 and record a 68. The four-time major winner was shown getting worked on by his physio multiple times on the course, but he says he’s healthy and ready for the weekend. He’ll enter Saturday two shots off the lead of Haotong Li.

Tying Tommy Lad for round of the day was 25-year-old Cameron Champ. Playing in just his third career major championship, Champ bounced back from an opening 71 with a sparkling 64. Champ has a real chance to contend if he can keep his irons in line.

Jason Day retained a share of the lead early on Friday but settled for 69. The 2015 PGA champion will enter the weekend three shots off the pace.

The marquee group of Tiger Woods, Rory McIroy, and Justin Thomas has been meh this week. All barely earned the right to play on Saturday and Sunday, and all will need to play incredibly well to be relevant by week’s end.

Cameron Tringale shot 68 to sneak inside the cut, but unfortunately he signed an incorrect scorecard and was disqualified from the event. Let the discussion of that silly rule continue.

A second-round 69 got Rickie Fowler to +2, one shot shy of the cut line. He would have been okay had he not whiffed a tap-in on the sixth hole.

Harold Varner III birdied four of his final five holes on Friday to make the weekend. HV3 played in the final group of last year’s PGA Championship alongside Brooks Koepka.

A photographer seems to have rented some space in Jon Rahm’s head.

Those past major champions that we talked about yesterday? Not great today. Zach Johnson (76) and Martin Kaymer (82) both played terribly on Friday and missed the cut after starting the day inside the top 10.

Quick Hooks

Only eight remain at the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Quarterfinals and semifinals take place at Woodmont Country Club on Saturday, followed by the 36-hole championship match on Sunday. Scoring

It was a big day for the Ruffels family: Gabriela advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, and Ryan fired a 63 to get within one of the lead at the WinCo Foods Portland Open. Whereas Gabi is trying to defend her title at the Women’s Amateur, Ryan is seeking to improve on his current 30th-place position on the Korn Ferry Tour points list. Portland Open Leaderboard

Andy Sullivan caught fire at the European Tour’s English Championship, shooting 63 to take the 36-hole lead. After withdrawing from the British Masters two weeks ago to do some emotional maintenance, Andrew “Beef” Johnston is back inside the Euro Tour bubble and playing well (-11, T-4). Leaderboard

Lydia Ko opened the Marathon LPGA Classic with rounds of 64-65 and holds a one-shot lead entering Saturday. Leaderboard

The Rose Ladies Series Grand Final at Wentworth Golf Club was suspended when a fire broke out nearby. Full Story

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