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Swede has major no.2 in his sights after going low at PGA

On course: Open champion Henrik Stenson on his way to a 67 yesterday at the USPGA
On course: Open champion Henrik Stenson on his way to a 67 yesterday at the USPGA

By Phil Casey

Open champion Henrik Stenson recovered from a poor start to remain on course to win two Major titles in the space of three weeks at the US PGA Championship.

Stenson carded a second consecutive 67 at Baltusrol to sit on six under par overall, a shot ahead of Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer and America's Patrick Reed, whose 65 equalled the lowest score of the week.

The Swede is three shots off the lead, however, with American Jimmy Walker out in front on nine under par with Emiliano Grillo on seven under after a second day which was delayed by 40 minutes because of rain.

Two-time Major winner Jordan Spieth is well positioned on three under, but it was a day to forget for Ireland's Shane Lowry, who missed the cut on five over.

Northern Ireland hopefuls Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke both missed the cut after disappointing second rounds.

Ryder Cup captain Clarke followed his 74 on Thursday with a one-over 71 to finish at five over par, while McDowell (right) carded a five-over 75, leaving him at nine-over par for the tournament.

After starting on the 10th, Stenson had three-putted the 12th and 13th and did well to save par on the next after failing to reach the fairway with a mis-hit drive.

However, the 40-year-old Swede responded in superb fashion by hitting his 257-yard approach to the 18th to three feet to set up a delightful eagle, before picking up birdies on the first, third and eighth holes.

"It felt pretty good the last 12 or 13 holes," Stenson said.

"I got off to a bit of a wobbly start and stood over a six-feet putt on the 14th to avoid going three over, so I'm quite happy that went in and I turned it on from 18.

"It's easy to get greedy when things are going your way, but I'm very pleased right now.

"That could easily have gone the wrong way but I was hanging in there and got the good stuff coming in."

Stenson only had a week to drink "champagne, champagne and champagne" out of the Claret Jug due to a condensed schedule to accommodate golf's return to the Olympics.

But he insisted he felt "pretty fresh" at the start of the week and believes he will feel the benefit of having ended his major drought if he gets into contention tomorrow.

"Maybe I'll run out of steam at some point, but up until then, I'll just keep trying my best," he said.

"I am expecting to be tired at some point, whether it be after this week or after the Olympic Games.

"I know I'm going to sleep for a week after The Ryder Cup, there's no two ways about that.

"But it's not something that I'm concerned about.

"I'm just going to try and manage my time on the practice range and make sure I get plenty of rest and sleep.

"I had a second and two thirds at the Open before this year, so I didn't feel like I had anything to lose, and I don't have anything to lose here. Confidence-wise, of course it's not going to be a bad thing, getting that win.

"Hopefully it makes it easier on Sunday when you know you've got one in the bank already."

Kaymer already has two Major titles to his name after winning the 2010 US PGA and 2014 US Open and could secure a fourth consecutive Ryder Cup appearance with a good finish here at Baltusrol.

"For sure I could make the Ryder Cup team, which would be huge. I really would love to be part of that," said Kaymer, who also recovered from dropping two shots in his first three holes either side of the rain delay thanks to three birdies in the last four."

Belfast Telegraph


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