Bob MacIntyre makes big jump up US PGA leaderboard in San Francisco

Scottish No 1 cards classy three-under 67 at TPC Harding Park

Bob MacIntyre sits joint-44th at the halfway stage in the 102nd US PGA Championship after jumping 65 spots in San Francisco on the back of a classy three-under 67. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Bob MacIntyre sits joint-44th at the halfway stage in the 102nd US PGA Championship after jumping 65 spots in San Francisco on the back of a classy three-under 67. Picture: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Bob MacIntyre showed his class to make one of the biggest jumps up the leaderboard as he comfortably made the cut in the end on his debut in the US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

The 24-year-old, who started the day outside the top 100 in the first men's major since he tied for sixth in last year's Open Championship at Royal Portrush following an opening 73, carded a splendid three-under 67 in the second round.

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In the same group as Patrick Reed and Kevin Na, MacIntyre got off to the start he was looking for with a birdie at the par-5 tenth before giving that shot back two holes later.

It was a brilliant performance from the Oban left-hander thereafter, though, as he covered the remaining 15 holes in three-under through birdies at the 16th, 18th and par-3 third.

MacIntyre, last year's European Tour Rookie of the Year, missed the fairway at the ninth, a 520-yard par-4 and was still 30 yards from the hole after his approach before chipping to six feet and rolling in the putt.

"I was thinking one-over will get in, but, coming up the ninth, I saw that it wasn't in yet. So it was nice to get up-and-down at the last to pretty much secure making the cut," said the Scottish No 1, who is playing in only his second major.

He ended up making it to the weekend with a shot to spare, having jumped 65 spots - matching Harold Varner III for the day's best effort in that respect - to sit in a tie for 44th on level-par.

China's Haotong Li leads on eight-under, two ahead of defending champion Brooks Koepka, English duo Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose, Australian Jason Day and Frenchman Mke Lorenzo-Vera.

MacIntyre, who sits a shot ahead of Tiger Woods, added: "I wasn't far off yesterday. Yesterday afternoon, the weather was as hard as I've played in with the condition of the golf course. If you missed a fairway, you were chipping out.

"I couldn't find a lie until the final hole today that I could get up near the green. It was a bit easier. The wind wasn't as strong. I think the conditions made it hard yesterday, and today it's playing easier."

MacIntyre is hoping that a strong performance over the weekend in California will kickstart his bid to break into the world's top 50 after slipping down the rankings during lockdown.

"This style of course suits my game," he added. "I hit it high, normally straight off the tee. I don't normally hit many wide ones, and this week I feel like the wider you are the better you are the way the rough is.

"If you're close to the cart path you're going to have a shot. But if you're just off the fairway, which I seem to be doing this week, then you're hacking out. But I feel like it suits my game tee-to-green."

Li, who closed with a 63 to finish third behind Jordan Spieth in the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, became the first player from China to lead in a men's major after follwing an opening 67 with a 65.

The 25-year-old admitted his performance so far had come as a surprise after finishing 75th in the 78-man field in last week's WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis.

"I've got no expectation actually," said Li. "I didn't even think I could play like this this week, got no confidence. Probably it helped me clear my mind a little bit this week."

Jim Barnes (1916 and 1919) is the only Englishman to have lifted the Wanamaker Trophy, but Fleetwood, Rose and Paul Casey will have high hopes of ending the 101-year wait for an English winner on Sunday.

Tommy Fleetwood, runner-up to Brooks Koepka in the 2018 US Open then again to Shane Lowry in last year's Open Championship at Royal Portrush, stormed up the leaderboard with a 64 - his best score in 18 rounds in this event.

"Yesterday I had a decent score going and had a bad couple of holes on 12 and 13 which halted progress," he said. "Level par wasn't a bad score and today I feel like my game is improving day by day since I've come back.

"Today I hit a lot of fairways and that clearly makes it easier from there round this golf course."

"Every time these weeks come about you just hope - you prepare for it to be your week, and today was a great day."

Koepka, who is seeking an historic hat-trick of victories in the event, is ominously poised on the leaderboard, where he has now been placed in the top three in each of his last nine rounds at the PGA Championship

With rounds of 66-68, 17 of his last 22 major rounds have been in the 60s, although in this one the four-time major winner needed treatment on the course for a hip problem.

The four-time major winner has struggled with a left knee injury this season but said: "It was my hip. Nothing to do with my knee. It's fine.

"I woke up this morning, it was tight, and I worked out and it got even tighter and then we loosened it up. It was a little tight when I was hitting balls on the range but it's nothing to be worried about. We'll loosen it up again and it will be a lot better."

Rory McIlroy reeled off four birdies in a row from the seventh to make his presence felt on the leaderboard before running up a triple-bogey 7 at the 12th, leaving him having to Woods, a WGC winner on this course, where he also picked up five points out of five in the Presidents Cup, failed to hole a putt of any significance in a 72 which left him on level par.

Open champion Shane Lowry is on the same score after also struggling to a 72 and was so frustrated that he snapped a club over his knee on the 13th.

After embarrassingly stubbing his putter into the ground as he failed to convert a six-inch putt, 2015 Scottish Open champion Rickie Fowler missed his first cut in a major for four years while there were also early exits for Open winners Zach Johnson and Henrik Stenson, as well as Sergio Garcia.

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