Rory McIlroy is seven shots off the pace heading into the weekend at the PGA Championship after a costly triple bogey dealt a blow to his chances.
Without a Major championship win since the 2014 edition of the tournament, McIlroy fired himself firmly back into contention on Friday as he reached the 12th on -3 following fourth straight birdies from the 7th. However, the Northern Irishman carded a costly triple that saw him tumble down the leaderboard, although a late birdie saw him finish on -1 for the day and overall.
Chinese golfer Li Haotong is the leader heading into the weekend on -8.
It was a similarly frustrating day for Shane Lowry. Beginning his round on -2, the Irishman played a strong front nine, reaching the eighth on -4. However, his round took a turn for the worse and the Open champion recorded five bogeys in his next six holes to drop down the leaderboard. A late birdie ensured he made the cut but Lowry's anger was plain to see when he snapped a club following the 13th hole.
One golfer who will still have eyes on the top prize is Tommy Fleetwood, after he fired a brilliant second round of 64 to lead a three-pronged bid for an extremely rare English success in the US PGA Championship in San Francisco.
Fleetwood shares second place with compatriot Justin Rose, defending champion Brooks Koepka, Jason Day, Daniel Berger and France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera.
Shane Lowry with easily the best club snap of 2020... pic.twitter.com/rnFipx9Eno— Harvey Jamison (@HarveyJamison) August 8, 2020
Fleetwood’s fellow Englishman and Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey was a shot further back on five under, while Tiger Woods is alongside Shane Lowry on level par.
Jim Barnes (1916 and 1919) is the only Englishman to have lifted the Wanamaker Trophy, but Fleetwood, Rose and Casey will have high hopes of ending the 101-year wait for an English winner on Sunday.
"Yesterday I had a decent score going and had a bad couple of holes on 12 and 13 which halted progress," Fleetwood said. “Level par wasn’t a bad score and today I feel like my game is improving day by day since I’ve come back.
"Today I hit a lot of fairways and that clearly makes it easier from there round this golf course."
Fleetwood is seeking his first major title after finishing runner-up to Koepka in the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills and second in last year’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
"I’m the same person. I’ve got a little bit more experience," Fleetwood added.
"If you look at it, was I playing better at Shinnecock? Maybe. But that might only be because I’ve only played two weeks since coming back.
"I feel the same, I guess, with a few more majors under my belt of experience. Hopefully they stand me in good stead over the weekend. Any time you’re in contention for a major, it’s an experience, and I feel like I’ve done it a few times, so every time you learn.
"Every time these weeks come about you just hope – you prepare for it to be your week, and today was a great day. Got a weekend of golf left. We’ll see."
Casey has a best finish of 32nd from four starts since the PGA Tour returned to action and admitted he had struggled to adapt to playing without fans.
"I’ve really missed it, plain and simple," Casey said. "I’ve felt I’ve not been able to sort of just get the excitement going. I felt very flat.
"Life away from the golf course here is also quite flat. You’d go out and have dinners and hang out with people and none of that exists now as we know it, so I’ve not really enjoyed being out playing golf."
Li, who finished third in the 2017 Open Championship after a closing 63 at Royal Birkdale, admitted his performance had come as a surprise after missing the cut in the Memorial Tournament and finishing 75th in the 78-man field in WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational since returning to action.