Haotong Li followed up his opening-round 67 at the PGA Championship with a 65 and has an excellent chance to be in the final pairing of the day, especially if the wind picks up at Harding Park. The 25-year-old is seeking his first win on Tour after an extremely lackluster year. A native of China, Li has played well in majors before, including a third-place finish at The Open Championship in 2017 and a 16th place at the U.S. Open in 2018.
Still, very few people could have predicted this would be the leader midway through the second day of action. During a post-round interview with ESPN, Li perhaps shed some light on what's going on here by mentioning — as casually as possible — that he'd gained 15 pounds during the hiatus post-COVID.
We're no longer an anecdote short of a trend piece. Bryson DeChambeau's incredible diet and girth has dominated links-based conversation ever since he showed up suddenly looking like Clemson's middle linebacker. And while Li's transformation is significantly less arresting, it signals the official arrival and proliferation bulking season.
If you want to play with the big dogs, it seems, you must eat all your chow. Also your neighbors' chow. Throw in four or five protein shakes and you've got a stew going. A gross, protein-packed one, but it'll help you make big moves on moving day.
Smarter golf minds than my own have hit on the idea before, yet it's hard to imagine a year from now that we're not reading story after story documenting how each player got in their required gains. Bold, cholesterol-oblivious days are ahead.