|-5 S Scheffler (US), C Conners (Can), V Hovland (Nor); -3 J Suh (US), B DeChambeau (US); -2 B Koepka (US), C Tarren (Eng); -1 T Pendrith (Can), J Rose (Eng)
|Selected others: E R McIlroy (NI), S Lowry (Ire), K Bradley (US) +1 D Johnson (USA) +4 J Rahm (Spa), C Smith (Aus), +5 P Mickelson (US), J Spieth (US), J Thomas (US)
Scottie Scheffler, Viktor Hovland and Corey Conners lead the US PGA Championship at the midway point, while Jon Rahm battles to make the cut.
The three were locked at five under at Oak Hill after Scheffler and Conners shot two-under 68s and Hovland shot a 67.
Bryson DeChambeau was two back, with Brooks Koepka a further adrift, while Rory McIlroy looked in better spirits as he shot a 69 to move to level par.
Defending champion Justin Thomas holed a bogey putt on 18 to make the cut.
Top 70s and ties will play out over the weekend and Jordan Spieth also made a crucial putt at the end as he carded a 72 to join Thomas on the five lead.
Phil Mickelson, who in 2021 became the oldest major champion at the age of 50 when he won this title, also entered the final two rounds of the cut mark.
But England’s US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick, who said earlier in the week how much he wanted this kind of attritional challenge, missed the cut by one after dropping shots in his last two rounds. hole.
World number one Rahm, who won the Masters last month enters this championship on a run of four wins in his past 11 events dating back to August.
However, after a birdie on his second hole, the Spaniard missed several other opportunities to improve his score with a run of nine consecutive pars and he repeatedly swore as his frustration began to boil over.
But three consecutive birdies on the back nine saved his round and he remained in the hunt for a third major title.
Tough conditions in the morning saw Justin Rose take the clubhouse lead as one of only seven players under par for their rounds, but afternoon rain took some of the pain out of the course and led to of better scoring – especially on the back nine.
Fellow Englishman Callum Tarren, who only got a place in the field on Friday when former champion Martin Kaymer withdrew, was one to benefit and had four birdies and just one bogey in his 67 as he moved he to two under the whole.
With only nine players under par for the tournament though, Oak Hill still provided a tough test.
Scheffler argued again; Koepka is back in major form
That was especially the case for Koepka, who admitted to getting choked up when leading the Masters last month. But the four-time major winner once again showed his pedigree with five back-nine birdies that helped him join Tarren at two under.
Koepka’s round of 66 matched the best of the tournament so far, set by first-round leader DeChambeau, who fell back to three under with Justin Suh after a one-over 71.
While Canadian Conners has had some decent results at the Masters, and Norwegian Hovland is closing in on the last two majors, world number two Scheffler already has a major title in his pocket and said he sees the himself “comfortable in these situations”.
“These are the positions I want to be in,” added the 2022 Masters champion, who would have held the outright lead but for a bogey on the 18th.
“I want to be near the top. I don’t want to be in 30th place or go home. I show up at tournaments to perform at my best.
“I’m excited to be in a good position going into the weekend. I’m going to keep my head up and keep doing what I’m doing.”
Both Hovland and Conner had just one bogey in similarly solid rounds as they underlined their threat.
And things looked brighter all around for McIlroy, who hit some big putts to make up for a still-struggling tee off. The four-time major champion feels he has a chance this weekend if he can find some fairways.
“When I finally hit the putt, I looked at the board, and I thought, I can’t believe I’m back,” said the Northern Irishman who won this title in 2012 and 2014.
“I think that’s a good thing because I know if I can play it off the tee, that’s the key to my success this weekend.
“If I get the ball in play off the tee, I have a shot and at this point I can just tee it up and bomb it anywhere.
‘A stellar effort’
Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, only managed to hit two fairways in the second round, and despite some incredible shots that cut in and out of the rough, his luck ran out with two bogeys at the his closing part.
“It’s tough,” he told Sky Sports. “I was trying to get the ball off the tee so under par was a good effort.
“It was a quick change. I don’t think either of us slept more than five and a half hours.”
It was a struggle for most of the early starters, with world number four Patrick Cantlay’s 67 and Englishman Tyrrell Hatton’s 68 two remarkable under-par rounds.
Cantlay bogeyed the last one for the tournament, while Hatton also dropped a shot on his final hole but after a long wait, he cut the lead to five.
Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott, who were tied for the leaders after one round, battled through rounds of 74 on the par-70 layout in Rochester, New York, to move back to one and two over respectively.
A shank and short challenge – PGA pro’s eventful round
California club professional Michael Block was the talk of the town at Oak Hill as the 46-year-old qualified briefly, then hit a dreaded shank before ending an eventful round at par. .
A teaching professional who charges $125 for a golf lesson, Block had a putt to tie at four under after a fast start to his round, but a big shank off the tee at the par-three fifth – his 14th hole – resulted in a double bogey and he had to hang on to finish at level par for the championship.
“I am having a great time,” said Block who made the cut for the first time in his fifth appearance in the championship.
“I have no pressure, I have a job and a pay check waiting for me at my club. I don’t have to make putts to pay off my debt. It’s a beautiful thing that I have.
“I feel like I’ve got the game this week to compete. I feel like I can shoot even par out here every day. I feel like at the end of four days that’s probably a good result.”