Robert Streb became the 28th player to fire a 63 in a major as Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson crashed out of the 98th PGA Championship on an enthralling second day at Baltusrol.
Streb carded eight birdies to reel in long-time leader Jimmy Walker as both equalled the record for the best halfway score in the tournament on 131, nine under par, while Jason Day mounted an incredible charge with a run of seven birdies in eight holes around the turn. The world No 1 is just two shots off the lead heading into the weekend alongside Emiliano Grillo, while Henrik Stenson maintained his bid for back-to-back majors with a second consecutive 67 as he staged a fine recovery from two early bogeys.
But US Open champion Johnson, who had finished no lower than ninth in six of the last seven majors, finished among the bottom 10 players on nine over, while McIlroy looked likely to scrape into the weekend until a poor second to the par-five 18th and a pair off duffed chips added up to an ugly bogey six and a round of 69 – three over for the tournament.
Stenson set the early clubhouse target at six under, turning his fortunes around with a stunning three-wood to three feet at the 18th which set up an eagle, and he followed that with birdies at the first and third before another at eight took him a shot head of 2010 PGA champion Martin Kaymer. But overnight leader Walker continued his excellent form and holed from 12 feet at the fifth and the eighth in a solid, outward 32, and he reeled off three consecutive birdies from the 12th – the highlight being a huge 40-foot putt for a three at the 13th.
The American looked primed to set a new 36-hole scoring record, but he scrambled a par at the long 17th after hooking his drive into the stands, and another pull from the 18th tee found water and he missed from five feet for par to take a little gloss off his 66. Streb produced the best round of his career and was dialled in with his irons from the start, setting up tap-in birdies at 11, 14 and 15 before suffering his only blemish of the day at the next when he pulled his tee shot into the left trap.
He got back on track with a birdie at 18 and he picked up further shots at the second and sixth before draining a monster 45-foot putt for another at seven, and he holed another from just short of the green at the ninth to tie Walker for the lead.
Day slipped back to level par for the tournament when he three-putted the seventh to run up a double-bogey six, but he responded in sensational style and got both shots back at eight and nine to turn in 34 and his putter heated up further when he holed from 18 feet for birdie at 10. The Australian found the target again at 12 and 13, and he was fist-pumping with delight after nailing a 40-footer for another gain at the 14th before extending his run with a precise approach to five feet at 15, although his composure deserted him at the long 17th and 18th and he had to settle for a 65.
Grillo raced to eight under with four birdies in seven holes on the back nine, including a 40-footer for a three at 15, but he had to scramble a number of pars on the outward half and dropped a shot at the eighth after tugging his approach long and left.
Jamie Donaldson leads the British charge as a 67 lifted him to four under alongside Rickie Fowler, while Jordan Spieth started with a pair of birdies and made good strides up the leaderboard to three under after handing in a 67.
Masters champion Danny Willett (+1), Open runner-up Phil Mickelson (+1) and world No 11 Justin Rose (+2) were among those to scrape into the weekend with little to spare, but McIlroy and Johnson will endure an unscheduled two days off. McIlroy’s long game once again looked in prime order, but he again struggled on the greens and missed a series of chances to add to his four birdies, including a 33-foot putt at 17 which appeared to have extended his tournament. But after a perfect drive at the last, he pushed a five-iron into a horrid lie in the thick rough and chunked his first chip, found the fringe with his second, and his pitch for par shaved the left edge of the hole.