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Rory McIlroy takes lead at PGA Championship

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — On a soggy day at Valhalla, Rory McIlroy put himself in a familiar position: atop the leaderboard in the PGA Championship.

For Tiger Woods, this is becoming the norm: another major disappointment and heading home for the weekend.

McIlroy, the overwhelming favorite, started his second round on the back nine after a 50-minute rain delay Friday, made a couple of early birdies, then claimed the outright lead for the first time when he rolled in a 30-foot eagle putt at No. 18.

McIlroy picked up two more birdies in his final three holes for 4-under 67, good enough for a one-shot lead at 9-under 133 over Jason Day and Jim Furyk. Day turned in the best round of the day, 65, and Furyk shot 68.

"I scored well, but the golf wasn't quite as pretty as (Thursday) at times," McIlroy said. "Neither was the weather, obviously. Played well, for the most part. There were some key up-and-downs to keep the momentum going in the round."

Rickie Fowler (66) and first-round co-leader Ryan Palmer (70) were two shots back. Fowler is the first player since Woods in 2005 to finish in the top five of the first three majors of the year.

And don't forget Phil Mickelson, who rolled in an 8-footer for eagle at the final hole for 67, which put him three shots back.

Woods, meanwhile, struggled to his second straight 74 and failed to make the cut at a major for the fourth time in his professional career. It was his 11th missed cut in 302 PGA Tour pro starts.

"That was tough," Woods said. "I hit a lot of shots out there. Seventy-four of 'em. It was a long day."

First-round co-leaders Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell faded a bit. Westwood, who was never won a major in 66 career stars, shot 73 and was four back. Chappell struggled to 74 and dropped six strokes off the pace.

McIlroy is at the top of his game. He arrived at Valhalla having won his past two tournaments. He captured the British Open with a wire-to-wire performance and rallied for a victory at the Bridgestone Invitational last weekend.

Midway through the final major of the year, he is once again the guy everyone is chasing.

"I'm in a really solid place in terms of not getting ahead of myself on the golf course, staying in the present" said McIlroy, 25, and going for his fourth major title and his second PGA Championship win. "I've got a couple little trigger words that I'm using, and that seems to be getting me through. I can't really explain it any better than that.

"Obviously, my swing is technically in a good place at the minute. I'm able to shape the ball in both ways. I'm confident, and I'm just on a good run. You've seen when I've been on good runs like this. I can sort of keep it going for a little while. Hopefully I can keep it longer than I have done in the past."

McIlroy is attempting to become the first player to win back-to-back majors since Padraig Harrington won the British Open and the PGA Championship in 2008. Among active players, only Woods (14), Mickelson (five) and Ernie Els (four) have more than the three majors won by McIlroy.

A steady rain forced officials to suspend the round after 20 minutes because of too much water on the putting surfaces and fairways. Work crews were using squeegees on the greens when another burst of showers hit.

Play was halted as Palmer was playing the first hole. He hung out in the tower with some volunteers, snapping pictures of the water. "I wasn't quite sure we should have teed off, to be honest with you," he said. "You could barely see the fairway."

The sun came out late in the day.

PGA leaderboard

Rory McIlroy 66-67 133 -9

Jason Day 69-65 134 -8

Jim Furyk66-68134 -8

Ryan Palmer65-70135 -7

Rickie Fowler69-66135 -7

Mikko Ilonen 67-68 135 -7

Notables

Phil Mickelson 69-67 136 -6

Steve Stricker 69-68 137 -5

Lee Westwood65-72137 -5

Adam Scott71-69140 -2

Tiger Woods*74-74148 +6

* missed cut

Rory McIlroy takes lead at PGA Championship 08/08/14 [Last modified: Friday, August 8, 2014 10:00pm]
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