McIlroy moves ahead at Valhalla

European Tour

World number one Rory McIlroy moved one shot clear at the 96th PGA Championship after firing a four-under-par 67 on Friday.

The three-time major winner started the day one shot behind first-round leaders Lee Westwood, Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer, and he didn’t get off to the best of starts at a wet Valhalla after a bogey on the par-four 12th.

However, he made up for it with birdies at the 13th and 15th before making his move with an eagle at the par-five 18th for an in 33. He lost a bit of momentum with another bogey at the par-four second hole before birdies at the seventh and ninth edged him ahead.

However, he has plenty of company with Australian Jason Day and American Jim Furyk just one shot behind and Mikko Ilonen, Ryan Palmer and Rickie Fowler another stroke adrift.

“I played well for the most part,” McIlroy, who won last month’s British Open, said.

“I’m very pleased. I’m in a great position going into the weekend in another major championship. Can’t ask for much more. I’m confident, and I’m just on a good run.

“You’ve seen before when I got on good runs like this, I can sort of keep it going for a little while.”

Conditions at Valhalla were tricky on Friday and Day had the best round of the day as five birdies, an eagle and one bogey gave him a six-under-par 65.

“I think we got a little lucky on the draw, teeing off in the afternoon,” said the 26-year-old said. “We didn’t get as much rain. I played great.

“A little disappointed that I had one bogey on the back nine but I came home strong with birdies on 17 and 18.”

Furyk (68), Ilonen (68), Ryan Palmer (70) and Fowler (66) are all within striking distance as is Phil Mickelson with the five-time major finishing with an eagle at the 18th for a 67, which puts him six under for the tournament alongside Bernd Wiesberger.

“It was a long day, but for me it was a good day,” Mickelson said. “To shoot four-under puts me in good position for the weekend.

“Obviously Rory is playing great golf. There’s a lot of guys right there. Out of that group somebody is going to get hot. I think that I have a hot round in me, too.”

Westwood also remains in the hunt as he is tied ninth alongside Henrik Stenson, Steve Stricker, Louis Oosthuizen and three others after following up his opening 65 with a one-over 72.

However, former world number one Tiger Woods made an early exit after two consecutive three-over-par 74s saw him miss the cut of a major for only the fourth time in his professional career.

“I tried as hard as I could,” Woods said. “That’s about all I’ve got. Unfortunately just didn’t play well.”

Other big names who won’t play over the weekend are current US Open champion Martin Kaymer of Germany, American Jordan Spieth, England’s Paul Casey and three-time major winner Padraig Harrington.

Latest