The 2014 PGA Championship continues Friday from Valhalla in Louisville, Kentucky, and all eyes are on world No. 1 Rory McIlroy. The 25-year-old phenom shot up the world golf rankings after back-to-back wins at the British Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
He's looking to make it three in a row with another major victory.
McIlroy was off to a hot start Thursday, posting a five-under 66, and he hasn't let off the gas early on Friday. Here's a look at the tournament's current leaderboard:
Round 2 didn't exactly begin with a blemish-free start for McIlroy. He began on the back nine and recorded a bogey on the par-four 12th to quickly drop a shot. However, in his typical resilient fashion, he birdied two of the following three holes to get to one under on the day.
McIlroy added icing to the cake on the par-five 18th, coming away with an impressive eagle to make the turn at three under on the day and the tournament's lead at eight under par.
Golf World kept up on McIlroy's brilliant surge:
Rory's ahead of the pack! He eagles 18 to take a two-shot lead over Lee Westwood, Steve Stricker, Kevin Chappell and Ryan Palmer. #PGAChamp— Golf World (@GolfWorldUS) August 8, 2014
Ryan Palmer is hanging around the top of the leaderboard as well. His bid for a major victory was alive and well after making the turn at one under; however, a bogey at the par-four 12th brought him back to even and a tie for second position.
The big mover on the day is Steve Stricker. The veteran breezed through the back nine—his opening nine on Friday—recording four birdies for a four-under 32 and a share of second place.
Brian Biggane of the Palm Beach Post tweeted the significance of Stricker's score:
Steve Stricker 4-under through 9 holes to move into a tie for the lead at #PGAChampionship. At 47, would be second oldest to win a major.— Brian Biggane (@bbiggane) August 8, 2014
These players will see some stiff competition from the afternoon's tee times, as Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell are in great position at six under par, and Jim Furyk and Edoardo Molinari are right behind at five under.
Unfortunately, some of the world's notable players haven't begun quite as strong as the aforementioned golfer.
Phil Mickelson had a roller-coaster Day 1, but he did manage to come away at two under par. He's not far off the lead, but Lefty will need to make a move quickly to avoid missing a top-10 finish for the 17th consecutive tournament.
According to Golf on CBS, Brian Crowell thinks Mickelson is in for a nice showing:
After three runner-up finishes in four tournaments, Sergio Garcia finds himself ranked as the world's No. 3 golfer. However, he hasn't quite been able to keep his hot streak alive and is one under for the tournament through nine holes on Friday.
Then, there's the curious case of Tiger Woods.
With the PGA Championship's projected cut at even par, Woods' three-over performance on Thursday puts him in a dangerous position heading into Friday's afternoon round.
Woods returned for the Quicken Loans National after undergoing back surgery earlier in the year, only to miss the cut and relinquish his world No. 1 ranking. He then went on to place 69th in the British Open before withdrawing from the WGC-Bridgestone, plummeting his ranking to 10th overall.
ESPN Stats & Info further noted Woods' struggles:
Since returning from back surgery, 8 of Tiger Woods' 10 rounds have been over par, including 5 of +3 or worse.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 7, 2014
This week, his ranking could take another severe hit if he can't make up ground on Friday and find a way to remain in the field for the weekend. As it stands right now, Woods will need to shoot at least a three-under 68 to make the cut.
Keep an eye on all of these storylines as Friday's action continues. The drama continues to build, and we are certainly in for some intriguing developments.