Mark Hubbard watches his tee shot on the 18th hole...

Mark Hubbard watches his tee shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. Credit: AP/Matt York

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Those big, crooked numbers bunched on one side of his scorecard made Mark Hubbard wonder if his luck was running out.

He was thankful to straighten out things on the other side and remain within sight of the leaders at the PGA Championship.

Hubbard’s 3-under 68 on Friday was three strokes off his opening-round score at Valhalla Golf Club, owing to three bogeys over a five-hole stretch on the front nine. Six other birdies more than erased those and kept him within three shots of leader Xander Schauffele (-12) on a rainy Friday delayed and dampened by the predawn death of a pedestrian worker, soon followed by the shocking arrest of world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler because of an altercation with Louisville police.

“I putted really well today,” said Hubbard, who needed a quick recovery with a morning start following a late Thursday evening finish. “I wasn’t moving quite as well, driving it quite as well as yesterday, so it made it a little tougher.

“Just didn’t quite have my legs under me, but my putter really showed up and kind of kept me in there.”

Hubbard said his agenda wasn’t seriously thrown off by the second-round delay that came after John Mills, a 69-year-old who worked for a vendor at the tournament, was struck and killed by a shuttle bus while crossing the road to Valhalla. Scheffler was arrested a short time later for failing to follow police instructions as he tried to get around traffic and onto the course.

Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion, was released and returned to Valhalla 56 minutes before teeing off and shooting 5-under 66 to tie for fourth at 9-under with Hubbard, Thomas Detry and Bryson DeChambeau.

Mark Hubbard reacts after missing a putt on the 16th...

Mark Hubbard reacts after missing a putt on the 16th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. Credit: AP/Matt York

Hubbard expressed thoughts and prayers for Mills’ family and empathy for Scheffler’s situation.

The Denver native then went out and birdied two of his first three holes, along with the 18th, that send him on his way toward making the cut in all 14 of the tournaments he has played this year, slowed only slightly by bogeys on the second, fifth and sixth holes.

“It’s been kind of soft all week,” Hubbard said of several days of showers at Valhalla. “I think the biggest difference was the rough was a lot more penal today, so I just kind of had to navigate that. I didn’t drive it as well, so I made a few more bogeys because of that.”

Hubbard, who turns 35 next Saturday, has two top-5 finishes this year and is No. 34 in the FedEx Cup this year. It keeps him in the mix for the ultimate goal — top 50 to qualify for all the signature events, perhaps even his first trip to the Tour Championship for the top 30.

Mark Hubbard hits from the fairway on the 18th hole...

Mark Hubbard hits from the fairway on the 18th hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club, Friday, May 17, 2024, in Louisville, Ky. Credit: AP/Matt York

A big weekend at Valhalla would contribute toward that. This is his third PGA Championship, and his confidence is higher.

“Going into the week I felt like this was the first time my game was in a position where I felt like I could do that, whereas before I just showed up and have been kind of happy to be there,” he said.

“I think that showed just from a mental standpoint and confidence standpoint. I think this is a good major course for me. There’s so many that aren’t.”

More golf news

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME