England’s Luke Donald moved on to the heels of Darren Clarke when the United States PGA championship resumed at Whistling Straits today.
But the only problem with that was that Clarke was not leading any more. While the Ulsterman waited to resume after his superb seven-under-par 65 yesterday, American Briny Baird birdied four of the first seven holes to charge to nine under.
Donald, pressing for a Ryder Cup debut after his first European tour win in Sweden two weeks ago, was putting himself in contention for a major for the first time.
Having opened with a 67, he birdied the short 12th – his third – and then reeled off six pars in a row to turn in 35 and six under.
The 500-yard 18th was notable, because it was into the wind and playing its full length after organisers reacted to yesterday’s low scoring by pushing back tees.
Donald needed a wood for his second shot, found rough by the green but played an excellent flop chip over a bunker to four feet and saved his par.
Paul McGinley was another early starter – Donald was in the second group of the day at 7.10am – and the Dubliner, also with Ryder Cup thoughts, twice improved to four under alongside Padraig Harrington but then followed a birdie with a bogey each time and so stood three under.
Only one further back was Nick Faldo after he kicked off again with two birdies. But Colin Montgomerie, possibly needing a Ryder Cup wild card for the first time, dropped to two over with a bogey at the 143-yard 12th, and Justin Rose remained one over after five holes.
Scotland’s Scott Drummond, shock winner of the Volvo PGA title at Wentworth in May and playing his first American major, found himself on his own when he arrived for his second round.
Dudley Hart had pulled out after five holes yesterday, and fellow American Frank Lickliter did not return after his 80 – also reporting a back problem.
A marker had to be found for Drummond, but it did not unsettle him. A birdie at the long fifth put him two under.
Clarke and the two players who posted 66s on the first day, Ernie Els and Justin Leonard, were all afternoon starters – as was Tiger Woods, down in 104th place after a 75 and needing to climb into the top 70 to survive the cut.
The world number one – he equalled the record reign of Greg Norman there this week but could lose top spot to Els or Vijay Singh this weekend – has made an incredible 128 cuts in a row on the US Tour.
Masters champion Phil Mickelson was four under after setting off with a birdie at the 10th, while Stephen Ames – the Trinidadian who now also Canadian citizenship – joined Clarke in second place with birdies at the first, second and fifth.