April 15, 2021, 0:55

Tiger Woods remains in the hunt at US PGA Championship halfway stage

Tiger Woods remains in the hunt at US PGA Championship halfway stage

Tiger Woods kept himself in contention for a first major title since 2008 as Rory McIlroy’s hopes faded in the 100th US PGA Championship.

Woods added a 66 to his opening 70 at Bellerive Country Club to finish four under par, six shots behind halfway leader Gary Woodland, whose 10-under-par total of 130 had established a tournament record.

Playing partner McIlroy was a shot further back after returning a 67 when the delayed second round was completed on Saturday morning, but the four-time major winner got off to a poor start in round three.

McIlroy bogeyed the opening hole after flying his approach over the green and although he responded immediately with a birdie on the next, further dropped shots on the fourth and seventh saw him tumble down the leaderboard.

In contrast, Woods made the ideal start by holing from 15 feet for birdie on the first and five feet for another on the second, before almost chipping in on the fourth after finding trouble off the tee.

As the final groups teed off Woods was four shots off the lead, but he was far from alone in taking advantage of the ideal conditions, with defending champion Justin Thomas making a birdie at the first and 2015 winner Jason Day picking up shots on the first and third.

Woodland enjoyed a one-shot lead over compatriot Kevin Kisner, with Rickie Fowler completing a 67 on Saturday to join double US Open champion Brooks Koepka on eight under.

And Ireland’s Shane Lowry put the finishing touches to a flawless 64, his lowest round in a major, when play resumed to move alongside world number one Dustin Johnson, Charl Schwartzel and Thomas Pieters on seven under.

Woods had been facing his third shot to the par-five eighth when an approaching thunderstorm forced play to be suspended on Friday afternoon.

The 14-time major winner was three under for his round to that point and carried on where he left off on Saturday morning, pitching to five feet and holing the birdie putt.

A bogey on the 10th was instantly cancelled out by a tap-in birdie on the short 11th, but Woods then three-putted from 100 feet on the next after his approach from the rough just reached the front of the green.

After a two-putt birdie on the 17th Woods was faced with another lengthy putt on the last, but this time safely made par to complete a satisfactory morning’s work.

“I came right back out and made birdie from 69 yards so it was a nice way to start the morning, but missed two putts at 10 and 12 that I’ve been been making and that stemmed the momentum a little bit,” Woods said.

“Hopefully this afternoon I can shoot a low one and it’s going to take that because guys are making birdies from everywhere.”

McIlroy’s birdie on the par-five eighth was his first since his fourth hole on Thursday and he also chipped in on the 14th after flying the green with his approach.

“It seemed like that was the only way I was going to make birdie, hit it to tap-in distance or chip in,” McIlroy said. “I did not have my best stuff and hit one green in the last six holes but played them in two under.”

Lowry fared even better, the 31-year-old playing his remaining eight holes in three under par as he continues to rally after a disappointing season.

“It’s great,” Lowry said. “Obviously things haven’t been going well for me this year (but) the last few weeks have been good. I have my brother on the bag and he’s doing a great job, really enjoyed it.

“And now we’re going out on a Saturday afternoon in the mix at the PGA, it’s great. I have my dad here to watch. It doesn’t get much better.

“I didn’t think we were going to get called off yesterday and I was going along lovely so I was probably a little bit disappointed. To be able to come back out this morning and play nicely was good.

“With eight holes left there were a few tricky holes in there. The sixth hole is a pretty tough par three and four and five are pretty tough as well. To play those holes nice was good. This morning two birdies was my goal to get to six under. To get to seven was lovely.”

Source: breakingnews.ie

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