On top: Kevin Kisner at the 18th hole on Friday
St. Louis (AFP) - British Open runner-up Kevin Kisner birdied six of his first nine holes Friday to charge into the lead early in the second round of the 100th PGA Championship, while Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy prepared for an afternoon start.
Kisner’s sizzling back-nine start at Bellerive Country Club left him on 9-under par after an opening 67 and one stroke ahead of fellow American and playing partner Gary Woodland, who eagled the par-5 17th to reach 8-under.
Kisner, whose two PGA wins came in 2015 at home on Sea Island and last year at Colonial, shared seventh in last year’s PGA and that had been his best major showing until his British Open success.
Last month at Carnoustie, Kisner opened with a 66 to lead and shared the lead after the second and third rounds before a closing 74 left him trailing Italy’s fast-finishing Francesco Molinari.
Stung by the loss, Kisner attacked early on Friday, a three-foot birdie at 10 followed by an approach inches form the cup to set up a birdie at 11.
He made a 3-footer at the par-3 13th and a nine-footer at 15 for birdies, put his approach to two feet ahead of a birdie at the par-5 17th and sank a 14-foot birdie putt at 18 to seize the outright lead.
South African Brandon Stone, coming off a victory in last month’s Scottish Open, was third on 6-under, one stroke ahead of Molinari, US Open winner Brooks Koepka and afternoon starter Rickie Fowler.
Another pack on 4-under included 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose of Britain and 2013 Masters winner Adam Scott of Australia.
Woodland, who has never finished better than 12th in 27 major starts, put his second shot inches from the cup at 17 for an eagle.
Woods, a 14-time major champion in his comeback season after spinal fusion surgery, drew Thursday’s largest crowds in a supergroup with McIlroy and world number two defending champion Justin Thomas.
But Woods and McIlroy grinded out par 70s to share 48th place with Thomas little better on 69.
They figure to command attention again as the fifth-to-last group off the first tee.
World number nine Fowler, this year’s Masters runner-up, has eight top-five major finishes without a victory but matched the low major round of his career with a 65.
He starts in the fifth afternoon group off the first tee with Britain’s Ian Poulter, in the group on 67, and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, another shot back.
Three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, ranked eighth, can complete a career Grand Slam with a victory this week. But the 25-year-old American stood on 1-under after two early birdies Friday.