Rory McIlroy continued his sparkling run of form by moving to the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the USPGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky
Rory McIlroy continued his sparkling run of form by moving to the top of the leaderboard after two rounds of the USPGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.
The Ulsterman followed an opening 66 with a second-round 67 to sit one shot clear of Australian Jason Day at the halfway stage of the year’s final major.
American Ryan Palmer and 2014 major specialist Rickie Fowler lie a further shot behind on six-under-par after 36 holes, with the likes of Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk still well in the championship heading into the weekend.
A deluge of rain hit Valhalla early on Friday morning, and puddles of water were a common site on various fairway as play was halted for 50 minutes.
But that softened the golf course, playing into the hands of long hitters such as McIlroy, who continued to drive the ball in exceptional fashion.
He dropped a shot at his third hole of the day – the tough par-4 12th – bounced back with two birdies in the next three and sank a 30-footer for eagle at the 18th to reach the turn in 33.
He was steady, if unspectacular, on his back nine, and offset a bogey at the tough par-4 2nd with birdies at 7 and 9 to complete his second round in 67 strokes.
“The conditions were very tricky whenever the rain was coming down, obviously, and you sort of just had to wait for the moment when you had a break in the weather and you could sort of take advantage of the soft conditions,” said McIlroy.
“But I would have taken 67 going out this morning so it’s a job well done.
“Honestly, I am not thinking about winning. I am just trying to think about trying to play solid golf and every shot at a time.”
Day birdied 5 of his first 8 holes and made a wonderful up and down on the 18th to put himself in a great position with two rounds remaining.
Palmer, one of the first players out, made a strong finish to post a 7-under-par 36-hole total, a score matched by a Fowler, who made eight birdies during round two.
Westwood, meanwhile, was 2 under for his round and 8 under for the championship after 10 holes, but found water twice on the back nine.
But he finished off with a solid birdie at the 18 and, at 5-under-par, is still well in the tournament. Stenson and Mickelson – 5 and 6 under respectively – will also fancy their chances.
At the other end of the leaderboard, Tiger Woods – who looked a shadow of his former self – stumbled to a two-over-par 73 and appeared to tweak his back on the 7th hole.
He’s failed to qualify for the upcoming FedEx Cup play-offs and it remains to be seen if he’ll feature as a captain’s pick in the US Ryder Cup team after missing out on the automatic places.
Credit must also go to 50-year-old Colin Motgomerie for making the cut on such a long golf course.