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Rory McIlroy loosens the lines after a great start as he’s five shots from the lead in the PGA Championship

RORY McILROY has inflated his lines after making a powerful statement at the start of the USPGA Championship – and suddenly finds himself catching up.

McIlroy’s first lap of ’65 was to be the start of a winning streak at Southern Hills.

Rory McIlroy slipped five shots off the lead in the PGA Championship

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Rory McIlroy slipped five shots off the lead in the PGA ChampionshipPhoto credit: Getty
A disappointing 71 left him in fifth place

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A disappointing 71 left him in fifth placeCredit: EPA

After all, he’s raged to victory on the last three occasions he’s opened a Major with a really low round, 66 or better.

That was the story at the 2011 US Open and the Open and USPGA three years later.

But that 2014 USPGA triumph was the last of McIlroy’s four Major wins, and these days he only occasionally looks like the player he was back then.

In fact, a desperately disappointing 71 in the second round left him five strokes behind 36-hole leader Will Zatoris this time.

Still, it was set up for a Rory rampage. The strong early morning wind turned to a gentle breeze, and the players in McIlroy’s half of the draw filled up with birdies and points in the mid-sixties.

If he wants to come from behind and end the Great Drought, McIlroy, 33, will have to buck the trend in Southern Hills.

All seven previous major winners from the Tulsa course were in the top two at halftime.

The last of these winners was Tiger Woods at the 2007 USPGA.

Woods, 46, has already won his private battle by making the cut this week, despite apparent agony from the right leg he shattered in a life-threatening car accident 15 months ago.

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The 15-time major champion gritted his teeth and added a one-under-par 69 to his first 74 – and just like at Augusta, he booked his ticket for the final 36 holes.

Justin Thomas was delighted to hit a second straight 67 to take the lead in the clubhouse at six under par – despite finishing nearly an hour before McIlroy and Co’s tee shot and now three shots off the lead.

The consolation for the players who didn’t make the final pairing is that the top two at Southern Hills this time around are a couple of players who haven’t combined to a single win on the PGA Tour.

Zlatoris was already on the verge of choosing a Major as the perfect opportunity to open his winning tally as he finished runner-up in last year’s Masters. But despite showing he can mix it up in elite company, he’s still waiting for his first win.

Tiger Woods made the cut despite the obvious pain in his leg

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Tiger Woods made the cut despite the obvious pain in his legPhoto credit: Getty
Will Zalatorious leads with a score of nine under

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Will Zalatorious leads with a score of nine underCredit: AP

He will tee off alongside little-known Chilean player Mito Pereira in round three.

His main claim to fame so far has been to finish third in a seven-way tie at the 2020 Olympics, despite not winning the bronze medal in the m,as play-off.

Pereira shot 64 to get going while Zalatorius added a 65 to his first 66.

McIlroy will need to produce that kind of round today to chase this pair, although they have yet to show they can get over the line.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/5389274/rory-mcilroy-slips-pga-championship/ Rory McIlroy loosens the lines after a great start as he’s five shots from the lead in the PGA Championship

Aila Slisco

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