SHEBOYGAN, Wis. – A 50-foot birdie putt late in his second round Saturday gave Matt Jones a 7-under 65 and a two-shot lead at the halfway point of the PGA Championship.
Jones, a 35-year-old Australian whose lone PGA Tour title came last year in Houston, is at 11-under 133, two clear of fellow countryman Jason Day.
“It’s hard to say you ever feel a week like this coming,” said Jones, who had just one top-10 finish in his last 11 starts entering this week. “I’m a streaky player, I know that. But I’m just managing my golf ball better this week than I probably have in previous years on Tour and I’m putting well this week.”
The second round was completed Saturday morning after severe weather blasted Whistling Straits and forced a suspension of play at 7:30 p.m. ET. Play resumed at 8 a.m.
The third round began at 10:15 a.m. ET, shortly after the 36-hole cut was made. Jones and Day were scheduled to tee off at 4:06 p.m.
Day shared the lead when play was called for the day Friday. He birdied the par-5 16th to become the first player to reach double-digits under par, but he dropped a shot on the difficult 18th.
This spot is nothing new to Day; he has been within three shots of the lead following eight of his last nine major rounds.
“I’ve put myself in the position,” he said, “so the only thing I have to change is the end result. That has to wait until Round 4, late in Round 4.”
Jones, who finished his second round on the front nine, birdied the sixth hole and then dropped a 50-foot bomb on the eighth to take the two-shot lead.
Before the PGA, he had never been positioned better than T-17 through 36 holes of a major.
“It’s amazing to be in the lead at a major,” he said. “I’ve been in the lead in a Tour event, but a major is a different story.”
Among those lurking a few shots behind is Justin Rose, who made par on the only hole remaining in his second round (No. 18) to sit at 8 under.
Memorial champion David Lingmerth, rookie Tony Finau and two-time European Tour winner Anirban Lahiri are among the group at 7 under.
Jordan Spieth, trying to join Ben Hogan (1953) and Tiger Woods (2000) as the only players to win three majors in a season, is five shots back after two rounds. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, in his first start since injuring his left ankle, will begin the third round nine behind.
Just like at St. Andrews, Tiger Woods made it to the weekend at another major, but he didn’t stick around for long. He missed the cut by two at 4-over 148, his third consecutive early exit at a major.