Rory McIlroy has a one-shot lead over Lee Westwood and Jim Furyk at golf’s PGA Championship, where Tiger Woods is showing more signs of discomfort in his surgically repaired back and trails by 16 shots.
McIlroy is 9-under par through two rounds at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, shooting a 4-under 67 today to follow up yesterday’s opening-round 66.
Westwood and Furyk, who both started in the afternoon, are on the course at 8-under par, one shot better than Ryan Palmer and Jason Day. Palmer is the only one who’s finished two rounds, shooting a 70 today after a first-round 65.
Woods is 7 over, putting him in danger of missing the cut for weekend play at a major for the fourth time as a professional. After a first-round 74, Woods is 4 over through nine holes today. Currently, the score to make the cut is one over.
After a three-putt double-bogey at the par-4 sixth hole, Woods grimaced and reached for his lower back after hitting driver off the tee at the par-5 seventh. He winced following several shots after that, yet continued after finishing the ninth hole, which played back to the clubhouse.
“It’s obvious he’s in pain,” Pete Bevacqua, chief executive officer of the PGA of America, said on Turner Broadcasting’s TNT network. “We want Tiger to do what’s best for his health and long-term career.”
McIlroy, coming off wins in the British Open and Bridgestone Invitational that pushed him to No. 1 in the world ranking, had four birdies, two bogeys and an eagle today. He’s seeking to become the fifth golfer since 1980 to win three straight U.S. PGA Tour starts, joining Woods, Tom Watson, David Duval and Vijay Singh.
“I’m feeling good about my game,” McIlroy said. “I’m confident. I didn’t hit it quite as well today as I did yesterday, but I’m still in control of my game and my emotions. I’ll need to do that over the weekend as well.”
Rickie Fowler of the U.S. is on the course at 6 under.
Steve Stricker of the U.S., Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Graham DeLaet of Canada are through two rounds at 5-under par, four shots behind McIlroy. Stricker and DeLaet shot second-round 68s and were among the morning starters who overcame early rain and a wet course. Edoardo Molinari of Italy, Joost Luiten of the Netherlands and Victor Dubuisson of France are on the course at 5 under.
McIlroy started on the 10th hole today and bogeyed his third hole before recovering with birdies at the 13th and 15th holes.
He took the outright lead with an eagle putt of about 30 feet (9 meters) at the par-5 18th hole. After a bogey at the second hole, McIlroy regained the lead with a birdie at the par-5 seventh hole and extended it with a 16-foot birdie putt to close his round at the ninth hole.
“When the rain was coming down this morning it made the tee shots a lot more difficult,” McIlroy said. “I didn’t get off to the best of starts, but caught fire a little bit around the turn and I’m really happy with a 4 under par.”