PGA Championship: Justin Thomas shines in difficult conditions; Scottie Scheffler will retire early

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PGA Championship
Source: Golfdigest.com

PGA Championship: Despite setting the clubhouse goal in difficult conditions on day two, Justin Thomas refused to get carried away about the possibility of breaking his major drought at the PGA Championship.

Thomas, whose last major success came at Quail Hollow in 2017 when he won the Wanamaker Trophy, recorded a second consecutive three-under 67, moving to six under and a shot clear of overnight leader Rory McIlroy.

The former world No. 1 started Friday two shots behind McIlroy – one of the afternoon starters – but rapidly caught up when he birdied two of his first four holes, only to miss a par-saving putt from a greenside bunker at the par-three 14th.

Thomas ended a string of pars with a stunning 25-foot birdie at the fifth and added another from ten feet on the last to reclaim the lead, marking the first time the American has ever opened a major with back-to-back rounds of 67 or better.

“(I’m) very pleased,” Thomas told reporters after his round. “Although I played solid yesterday, I played really, really well today. The conditions were obviously very difficult.

“We’re halfway through so it’s still a long way from home, but I’m very, very pleased with where everything is at and the frame of mind and state of mind that I’m in. I just need to try to maintain that the best that I can and keep trying to play good golf.”

After a fantastic second-round 69, Matt Fitzpatrick is three strokes behind Thomas, while Shane Lowry was also within three shots of Thomas until dropping four shots over his final eight holes to settle for a two-over 72.

Southern Hills struggles with a star-studded lineup

Scottie Scheffler’s fantastic start to the year came to an end when he missed the cut in the second round following a horrific finish.

Scheffler entered the week as the pre-tournament favourite after winning four of his last seven PGA Tour events, including his first major victory at The Masters last month, but he did not get it to the weekend at Southern Hills.

The 25-year-old shot a one-over 71 on day one and appeared to be on his way up the leaderboard as he started his second round with nine straight pars, only for things to go apart after reaching the turn in windy conditions.

Scheffler bounced back from back-to-back bogeys at the second with a close-range birdie at the fourth, but his slide down the leaderboard continued when he couldn’t get out of a greenside bunker at the next.

A lost shot at the seventh placed him at four-over, while a three-putt double bogey from 15 feet on the par-four ninth – his final hole – put him at five over and put him in danger of missing the cut for the first time since his first start of the season last October.

Collin Morikawa, a two-time major champion, also had a dismal finish, bogeying his final two holes for his second consecutive 72, with world No. 2 Jon Rahm the only member of the elite group to finish under par, with a one-under 69.

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