Lesser-known Americans lead at PGA

The Associated Press. Scott Verplank hits out of a bunker during the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek.

The Associated Press. Scott Verplank hits out of a bunker during the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek.

JOHNS CREEK -- Tiger Woods' PGA Championship won't go past two rounds. Steve Stricker's first-round magic faded. Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy were solid, but couldn't get a low round going.

That left the fans at Atlanta Athletic Club looking at the leaderboard Friday evening and wondering, "Who are these guys?"

Those guys are 34-year-old Jason Dufner and 25-year-old rookie Keegan Bradley, two of the less-heralded Americans in the field and the co-leaders of the 93rd PGA Championship. Both players finished the day at 5-under-par 135, sitting atop a leaderboard with only three major champions in the top 20 positions.

"There are tons and tons of guys that can play golf out here," said Dufner, a former college golfer at Auburn who entered the tourney on a run of four missed cuts. "The networks and the media maybe focus on bigger names for a reason. That's who people want to see. People want to see Tiger Woods. People want to see Phil Mickelson. But there are other guys that can really, really play golf out here and that are really good, that you've never heard of."

Dufner, who shot 65 in the second round, is certainly is one of those guys. Bradley may be, too, though the PGA Tour rookie made a splash already by winning this year's Byron Nelson Classic.

A Vermont native who played college golf at St. John's, Bradley had the best second round Friday with a 6-under 64 that gave him the lead in his first-ever appearance in a major. He had six birdies on the day, most on putts in the 6- to 10-foot range, with the highlight being a long birdie putt on No. 7.

Bradley isn't surprised by his anonymity, adding that he's signed autographs this week and people follow up by asking who he is.

"It's understandable, it's my rookie year and I'm just getting started," Bradley said. "I've got to tell you, I do feel very comfortable out there. It's always so much fun to be out here. I'm finishing up and Tiger is finishing. I'm teeing off and Tiger is on No. 1. He's one of my idols. It's cool to look around and see all these guys that I've looked up to my whole life."

As of Friday evening, not many of those well-known guys made a dent in the leaderboard.

Jim Furyk fired a 65 in the second round and was the most recognizable name up high, tying fellow Americans D.A. Points and Scott Verplank and Australian John Senden at 4 under, a shot off the lead.

Four players were two shots back, including first-round leader Stricker, who followed up his record-tying 63 with a 74.

"It's tough," Stricker said of the course. "If you get it going, you start driving it in the fairway and you get some opportunities, you can get on a roll. But vice versa, I was on the other end of the spectrum today where it was tough going all the way around. Pulled the wrong clubs, bad decisions, didn't make any putts."

The group at 2 under featured last week's winner, Adam Scott, who made a charge before finding the water on the 18th with a punch shot out of trouble.

Lee Westwood and Davis Love III were tied at 1 under.

Mickelson, the 2001 PGA runner-up at AAC, is still within striking distance at 1 over, where he's tied with World No. 1 Donald. McIlroy is at 3 over.

Meanwhile, Woods' return to competitive golf saw a miserable ending. He followed up his first-round 77 with a 73 to miss the cut. His up-and-down second round include two scores of 6 and one 7.

"I think I was in nearly, what, 20 bunkers in two days, nearly 20 I think," Woods said. "And I had four or five water balls. So that's not going to add up to a very good score. Today I hit the ball a lot better. I putted well the last two days and really felt great, but I just never got to the green soon enough."