Brooks Koepka, who needed a sponsor exemption to play this week, fired a seven-under-par 64 on Friday to grab a one-shot lead after the second round of the USPGA Tour Frys.com Open.
Koepka finished 36 holes at 11-under-par 131 after making eight birdies and an eagle at the CordeValle Golf Club course, outside of San Jose.
The 23-year-old Koepka, who is seeking his first career win on the USPGA Tour, is one stroke in front of fellow American Jason Kokrak.
He has already enjoyed some success winning tournaments on the Challenge Tour in Europe, but feels he is ready to take the next step and play full-time on the USPGA Tour.
“You play good and everything takes care of itself,” said Koepka, whose globetrotting ways paid off this year with three wins on the Challenge Tour, Europe’s equivalent of the Web.com developmental tour.
Thanks to that success, he has European Tour status for the rest of this year and next year. A win this week would give him US tour playing privileges.
The US$5 million tournament was previously part of the USPGA Tour’s Fall series, a slate of late-season events that in recent years gave rank-and-file pros a chance to earn prize money toward keeping their tour cards as bigger names took a break in the wake of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
This year, the event marks the start of the 2013-2014 season, and like all six events that will be played before January, will offer FedEx Cup playoff points and a coveted Masters berth to the winner.
Kokrak made eagle on his final hole to close out a six-under 65 and jump into second place at 10-under 132.
Robert Garrigus fired an eight-under 63 to grab a share of third place with Jim Herman (66) at nine-under.
Camilo Villegas (66) had sole possession of fifth place at eight-under, a stroke ahead of Scott Brown (67), South Korea’s Charlie Wi (68), Kevin Tway (65), Kyle Stanley (69) and Billy Hurley (66).
Japanese compatriots Hideki Matsuyama and Ryo Ishikawa were among a group of seven players tied for 11th place at six-under 136.
Matsuyama is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 30.