Thomas clings to PGA Championship lead as McIlroy falters

Justin Thomas mixed four birdies, including one at his final hole, with a single bogey to return a second consecutive three-under 67 to sit on six-under at the midway point bumping the Northern Irishman from top spot. ― Picture by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Justin Thomas mixed four birdies, including one at his final hole, with a single bogey to return a second consecutive three-under 67 to sit on six-under at the midway point bumping the Northern Irishman from top spot. ― Picture by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Saturday, 21 May 2022 7:04 AM MYT

TULSA (Oklahoma), May 21 ― Justin Thomas was clinging to the second round clubhouse lead at the wind-whipped PGA Championship on Friday, as Rory McIlroy was being blown down the leaderboard.

With Southern Hills buffeted by gusts of up to 40 mph (65 kph), Thomas was unfazed as he mixed four birdies, including one at his final hole, with a single bogey to return a second consecutive three-under 67 to sit on six-under at the midway point bumping the Northern Irishman from top spot.

Out in the afternoon wave, McIlroy started his round with only Thomas one shot in front.

But after a miserable outward nine the Irishman had tumbled three off the pace passed by American Will Zalatoris, Chile’s Mito Pereira, Australian Cameron Smith and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer.

Out late, McIlroy was hoping the winds that caused havoc for the early starters had subsided as forecast but he could not benefit from the improving conditions, slogging into the turn without a birdie while taking two bogeys.

Playing the back nine first, Pereria mounted an early charge with back-to-back birdies to kick off his round which helped get him to five-under, one behind Thomas alongside Zalatoris with Ancer and Smith one further back.

Behind the leaders some of golf’s most celebrated names including Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth were scrambling to make the cut projected to be set at four-over.

Woods, in his second start since a February 2021 car crash that almost resulted in the amputation of his right leg, pushed his body to the limit on Thursday and it cost him as he gritted his teeth in pain and hobbled to a four-over-par 74.

But the 15-time major winner again proved he is one of sport’s greatest battlers by making the turn on level par in his second round to remain right on the projected four-under cut.

Spieth, playing in the same group with McIlroy and Woods, got his day off to a stumbling start with a bogey at the first but hit back with a birdie at the fourth to also reach the turn at even par in the safety zone at two-over.

A number of contenders, however, appear destined for an early exit, including Masters winner and world number one Scottie Scheffler after a scrappy 75 left him at six-over. ― Reuters