By Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent, Tulsa
Rory McIlroy remained the man to catch as windy conditions made scoring difficult in the second round of the 104th US PGA Championship.
Due to the forecast for gusts up to 40mph, the greens had not been cut before play got under way on Friday in a bid to prevent balls moving on the undulating surfaces at Southern Hills.
And with the weather due to improve as the day wore on, McIlroy’s tee time of 1336 local time (1936 Irish time) had the potential to prove significantly advantageous in his bid to end an eight-year major drought.
Due to the forecasted high winds, all practice and golf course putting greens were not mown today. pic.twitter.com/cGzLDY4OWy
— PGA Championship (@PGAChampionship) May 20, 2022
An opening 65 was McIlroy’s lowest opening round in a major since the 2011 US Open at Congressional, which he went on to win by eight shots.
It gave the 33-year-old a one-shot lead over Will Zalatoris and Tom Hoge, with former world number one Justin Thomas another stroke back following a 67 which was the best score of the afternoon wave.
Thomas was among the early starters from the 10th tee on Friday and birdied his opening hole and the 636-yard par-five 13th to briefly join McIlroy on five under, only to promptly bogey the next and then record a string of seven pars.
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick looked to be relishing the tough conditions as he covered his first eight holes in one under to get within two of the lead, while former Open champion Shane Lowry was four off the pace after following two early birdies with a three-putt bogey on the second.
McIlroy had pledged to take nothing for granted after his first round, adding: “It is a great start but I’m not getting ahead of myself.
“I did pretty much everything you need to do out there and I’m going to have to keep doing the same the next three days.”
Tiger Woods faced a battle to make the cut following his opening 74, the 15-time major winner admitting his right leg – which he feared could have to be amputated following last year’s car crash – was not “feeling as good as I would like”.