Rory McIlroy continues to show why he is the No. 1 golfer in the world rankings.
The superstar took the lead at the PGA Championship with a second-round score of 67, putting him at nine strokes under par for the tournament.
Of course, he will have plenty of competition in the coming days from Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Palmer, Jim Furyk and more.
Here is a look at the top of the leaderboard after Round 2 in Valhalla:
A few weeks ago, it would have been a surprise to see McIlroy post two low rounds in a row at a big tournament. However, wins at the Open Championship and Bridgestone Invitational mean that it would be a surprise to see his name anywhere but the top of the leaderboard.
That is where he sits after another fantastic round. He followed up his 66 from Round 1 with a 67 on Friday, keeping up a tremendous streak at majors:
Rory McIlroy has 5 rounds of 68 or better in his last 6 rounds at a major. In those 6 rounds, he is a combined 26-under par— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 8, 2014
His best hole was this eagle on the par-five No. 9:
McIlroy said the big difference in this tournament has been his focus.
"Mentally I’m in a really solid place in terms of not getting ahead of myself on the golf course," McIlroy told reporters after his round, via Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel. "Staying in the present. Obviously my swing is technically in a good place at the minute. I’m confident, and I’m just on a good run."
With his ability to make every shot, it will be extremely difficult for anyone to beat him.
Palmer lost his share of the lead he had coming into the day, but he got back into contention thanks to consecutive birdies on the final two holes to end the round at seven-under.
Although Palmer still has a chance, the fans should be interested in a leaderboard filled with big names, as noted by Jason Sobel of Golf Channel:
Don't look now, but big-boy leaderboard alert: McIlroy, Westwood, Furyk, Day, Fowler, DeLaet, Stricker, Stenson, Dubuisson. Ballers.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) August 8, 2014
Fowler is one of those players in the hunt after shooting a 66 in Round 2 to keep him just two strokes back. Of course, he took a strange path to get there with an up-and-down front nine, as noted by Kyle Porter of CBS Sports:
Rickie Fowler's scorecard is as colorful as his wardrobe - pic.twitter.com/2FAIj1qgkC— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) August 8, 2014
While he had just one par in the first 11 holes, he was much more consistent in the back nine and finished with one of the best rounds of the day.
Shots like this were a big reason he was able to post such a low score:
Then again, Day was even better en route to his 65. The Australian only had a single bogey to go with five birdies and an eagle on the seventh hole. Golf Link notes that injuries have been a problem for him recently:
Jason Day now T5 after eagle at 7. Impressive comeback after WD last week at Firestone...#PGA— Golf Link (@golflinkau) August 8, 2014
On the other hand, ESPN's Trey Wingo points out that a healthy Day is as good as anyone:
When healthy..... Jason Day could be the one guy who's game could challenge Rory's...— trey wingo (@wingoz) August 8, 2014
Day will pair with McIlroy in the last pairing on Saturday, and the two will create an excellent show for all those watching.
Furyk was not to be outdone, with eagles on his last two holes to put him at just one stroke back for the tournament. Justin Ray of Golf Channel points out that this is familiar territory for the steady player:
Jim Furyk will be inside the top-5 entering weekend of major for 6th time since 2010. Only player with more in span - McIlroy (7).— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) August 8, 2014
Veterans Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson are all just a few strokes off the lead as well and have a chance to challenge for a title over the weekend. ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski is one person who believes in Mickelson after his 67:
Mickelson wasn't kidding when he said yesterday that he finally felt ready to win a tournament. He's at 5-under, four behind McIlroy.— Gene Wojciechowski (@GenoEspn) August 8, 2014
The round was unfortunately not good for everyone. Lee Westwood and Kevin Chappell each ended the first day with a share of the lead but could not even crack par on Friday.
Westwood was in good shape for the majority of the day until a double bogey on 13 killed his momentum. He fell apart from there and will now struggle to get back into contention.
Things did not go too well for Tiger Woods, either, who missed the cut after shooting another 74 and finishing at six strokes over par.
While none of his shots were really working for him, it was the putter that let him down the most. This short attempt summed up his tournament:
It is clear the former No. 1 is not quite healthy after undergoing back surgery earlier in the season, and his future is very much in doubt. Still, his popularity has not died down, and fans will continue to hope for a comeback.
Meanwhile, McIlroy is looking to become the new superstar in golf while trying to win his fourth career major and the second in a row. Even with a narrow lead, he remains the heavy favorite based on what he has shown in the past few weeks.
It will take a superior effort from the rest of the field to catch him over the next two rounds.
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