McIlroy in USPGA contention
Rory McIlroy is closer than ever to a first major title and has no reason to worry about Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson as the USPGA Championship finally made up for lost time.
Following long fog delays on the first two days it was all systems go at Whistling Straits - and, thanks to a five-under-par 67, 21-year-old McIlroy was in joint second place with American Dustin Johnson with 18 holes left of the final major of the season.
He was also, however, three behind another of the home contingent Nick Watney, who despite a closing bogey shot 66 for 13 under and remained the likeliest of the trio to become the sixth first-time winner in the last seven majors.
Woods, still searching for former glories, was only 31st after a 72 - he had to birdie the last two holes just for that - and Mickelson down in 48th place following an even more disappointing 73.
McIlroy, five under at halfway, birdied three of his first five holes and after a slip on the eighth picked up the pace again on the back nine.
Further birdies came at the 10th, 13th and long 16th, the last of them lifting him out of a group containing German Martin Kaymer, Australian Jason Day and, most surprising of all, China's Liang Wen-chong, who set a new course record with a sparkling 64.
"I'm not going to be over-aggressive and stupid, but you are going to have to give yourself plenty of chances," said McIlroy, third in the event last year and at The Open last month.
"I feel as if I've got to shoot something in the mid-60s, but you never know. You could go out and shoot a great score and Nick plays well and that's it."
Watney, who needs a top-four finish to have a chance of a Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor in October, took charge with five birdies in his first seven holes as halfway pacesetter Matt Kuchar faltered.
He also bogeyed the eighth, but had three inward birdies before coming unstuck at the 500-yard last - a hole England's Simon Dyson (joint 14th after a 68) described as "probably the hardest finishing hole I've played in my life".