Rory McIlroy is still hotter than a match head at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. After shooting a five-under 66 on Thursday, he has shown no real signs of slowing down.
Through 15 holes on Friday, he has a one-stroke lead over Ryan Palmer at the 2014 PGA Championship. Here's a look at the most updated leaderboard.
Coming into the day, Palmer had a one-stroke lead after his six-under 65 on Thursday, but he shot a more human score on Friday to open the door for McIlroy to close the gap.
Other Strong Early Performances on Friday
After matching two-under 69s on Thursday, both Graham DeLaet and Steve Stricker played well on Friday—at least through 16 and 15 holes, respectively.
DeLaet was still a little inconsistent on the day. He had six birdies, but a double bogey on the second hole cost him.
Stricker was much steadier. He was dominant on the ninth-18th holes. He was four under par on that stretch and didn't give too much through the next six holes. His lone misstep with just three holes remaining on his day was a bogey on the fourth.
Can either of these men stare down a determined, focused and confident McIlroy? We'll find out over the weekend.
What About Tiger and Lefty?
Mickelson finished strong on Thursday to move to three under par. If he can sustain that momentum, he's definitely within striking distance and could be among the leaders heading into the weekend.
Woods' hopes aren't quite as bright, though you wouldn't know it by his optimism. Woods seems to believe he has a chance to get in the hunt.
Some may call it delusion, but the resilience and stubbornness are part of the reason he's accomplished so much in his career.
Tiger stumbled to a three-over 74 on Thursday. With the way McIlroy is playing, even a retro-Tiger performance may not be enough to make Woods a serious threat. In all practicality, Woods has to be looking at the rest of this tournament as extended and competitive rehabilitation for his injured back and potentially bruised confidence.
Making the cut is not a foregone conclusion for Woods. If he can string a few birdies together and finish under par on Friday, he should be safe. From there, getting under par overall will have to be the equivalent of his championship in this one.
Then again, this is Tiger, and he always wants to win.
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