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Rory McIlroy leads PGA by one shot after two rounds

Updated: August 8, 2014 11:47PM



LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The legend keeps building.

On a soggy morning when Valhalla was playing long and testing nerves, Rory McIlroy passed. With flying colors.

Seeking his third consecutive tournament victory, McIlroy shot a 4-under-par 67 in the second round of the PGA. He’s at 9-under 133 and has a one-stroke lead midway through the tournament and seems to be saying, ‘‘Catch me if you can.’’

‘‘I’m very pleased,’’ said McIlroy, who’s coming off victories at the British Open and the Bridgestone Invitational. ‘‘I’m in a great position going into the weekend in another major championship.’’

Taking advantage of the improved afternoon conditions, Jason Day shot a 6-under 65 to move into a tie for second with Jim Furyk, who had a 3-under 68, at 8 under. Day, who was bothered by a thumb injury earlier this year, eagled the split-fairway seventh hole and birdied his final
two holes.

‘‘I think we got a little lucky on the draw, teeing off in the afternoon [Friday],’’ Day said. ‘‘We didn’t get as much rain. The guys in the morning, it was pouring pretty hard. But, hey, I played great.’’

Two shots behind McIlroy are first-round co-leader Ryan Palmer, who has three top-five finishes this year; Rickie Fowler, who posted top-fives in each of the first three majors of 2014; and Mikko Ilonen.

‘‘Rory is the guy to beat,’’ said Palmer, who was pleased to shoot a 1-under 70 in the wet conditions early. ‘‘I’ll be honest with you.’’

Fowler more than offset three bogeys with eight birdies to shoot a 5-under 66.

After touring Valhalla with McIlroy the last two days, U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer was even more blunt than Palmer.

‘‘It’s very difficult to beat him,’’ said Kaymer, who missed the cut after shooting a 3-over 74. ‘‘You just have to respect how good he plays. There’s nothing wrong with his game. Putting. Chipping. Bunkers. Whatever it is. And he hits it probably 20 or 25 yards longer than anyone else. He’s definitely the best player in the world.’’

The way Tiger Woods stalked a golf course in his prime was one thing. The thought of McIlroy, 25, being an intimidator is another.

‘‘I think I’ve had to learn to be a good front-runner,’’ said Mcllroy, a three-time major champion. ‘‘If I’m two ahead going into the weekend here, I’m going to try to get three ahead. If I’m three ahead, I’m
going to try to get four ahead. I’m just going to try to keep the pedal down and get as many as possible.’’

Boyish or not, he’s on a roll. With victories at the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA to go with his British Open title last month, McIlroy
already has matched Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to win three majors by age 25.

A fourth major? That would tell the world what many of his opponents already seem to know.

‘‘Yeah, it would be big,’’ McIlroy said. ‘‘Fourth major championship. Two in one year. Two in a row. I don’t know what else to say. There’s a lot of golf left to play, and I’m
going to try my best.’’



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