Louisville - Rory McIlroy, helped by a spectacular eagle on his ninth hole of the
day, soared into a two-shot clubhouse lead in the weather-delayed second
round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Friday.
British Open champion, in pursuit of a third consecutive victory on the
PGA Tour, fired a four-under-par 67 on a wet, ultra-long Valhalla
layout where play was suspended for 45 minutes earlier in the day due to
McIlroy, the pre-tournament favourite
heading into the year's final major, holed out for eagle from 30 feet in
front of the green at the par-five 18th and also recorded four birdies
and two bogeys to post a nine-under total of 133.
He squandered a
golden opportunity to add another eagle at the par-five seventh, where
he hit a stunning second shot from 243 yards to just eight feet before
missing the putt, but signed off with a birdie at the ninth where he
drained a 16-footer.
That left three-times major winner McIlroy
two strokes in front of American Ryan Palmer, who birdied his last two
holes for a 70 after teeing off in the first group of the day in heavy,
"I wasn't sure we should have teed off when we did," said Palmer. "I could barely see the fairway on one.
are not rolling at all. You are going to need a lot of mid to
long-irons. Even par is a good round today, so it's nice to get under
England's former world number one Lee Westwood and American
Kevin Chappell, who had been tied for the overnight lead with Palmer
after opening with 65s, were both at six under after completing just one
hole in the second round.
Fourth-ranked Swede Henrik Stenson
(71), veteran American Steve Stricker (68) and Canada's Graham DeLaet
(68) were knotted at five under, three strokes off the pace.
however, commanded the spotlight as he lived up to his pre-tournament
billing with another consummate display in often difficult conditions
after making a scrappy start.
Initially struggling for accuracy
off the tee, he dropped a shot at the par-four 12th where he found a
bunker with his approach, but swiftly responded by sinking a 12-footer
at the 13th and a 16-footer at the 15th to get to six under.
the 25-year-old Northern Irishman squandered another birdie chance at
the 16th, where he missed an eight-foot putt, he reached the turn in
sizzling style with his eagle on 18.
McIlroy dropped another shot
at the par-four second, where his tee shot ended up in the rough and his
second in a bunker, but maintained his grip on the tournament with two
birdies in his last three holes.
Veteran Stricker, who has played a
limited schedule on the PGA Tour for the past two years, surged into
contention with four birdies on his front nine, capped by a 30-foot putt
at the 17th.
Out in four-under 32, Stricker made his only bogey
of the day where he found two bunkers en route to the green before
finishing his round four strokes off the lead.
The cut was
projected to fall at even par, leaving players such as four-times winner
Tiger Woods with ground to make up if he is to advance.
tournament rusty after having surgery in late March to treat a pinched
nerve in his back, struggled to opening 74 on Thursday and parred his
first hole on Friday to remain at three over.