By Mark Lamport-Stokes
LOUISVILLE Kentucky (Reuters) - Veteran American Jim Furyk and Australian young gun Jason Day took advantage of the favorable half of the draw at the PGA Championship on Friday to sign off with consecutive birdies to share second place.
Furyk carded a three-under 68 in wet conditions at Valhalla Golf Club while Day fired a sizzling 65, the best score of the second round, as they posted matching totals of eight-under 134 to trail leader Rory McIlroy by one stroke.
"Obviously we had a good draw, being in the afternoon," 2003 U.S. Open champion Furyk told reporters after sinking a 12-footer to birdie the 17th before getting up and down from the left side of the green for another at the par-five 18th.
"The guys in the morning had much tougher conditions. We had maybe 15 to 20 minutes of rain and wind in our face. That was when I played No. 10. The hole played long.
"I laid it up in the rough and hit a bad iron shot, wasn't able to get it up and down."
On a Valhalla layout playing ultra long due to the wet conditions, the 44-year-old bogeyed the par-five 10th, and also the 12th, but then played steadily over the closing stretch before finishing birdie-birdie.
"That back nine after 13 doesn't let up too much," said Furyk, a winner of 16 titles on the PGA Tour. "14, 15, 16, 17 are some pretty long tough holes, and I was able to grind it out, played pretty patient.
"It always makes dinner taste a little better," he said of his birdie-birdie finish. "You go away with good spirits. I'm just happy with two solid rounds, being able to shoot 66 yesterday and then 68.
"A good solid position in the tournament but we're only halfway done, a lot of golf left."
ROCKETED UP LEADERBOARD
Day, hunting his first major title after recording seven top-10 finishes in golf's blue riband events aged just 26, rocketed up the leaderboard at Valhalla with an outward nine of five-under 30.
"I played great," said the world number nine, who eagled the seventh after hitting a one-iron from 250 yards to 10 feet and sinking the putt. "I got off to a great start, but the last thing that I expected to shoot was 30 on the front nine.
"I put some good shots together out there to give myself the opportunities to really take advantage of the front nine.
"Obviously the back nine is just a little tougher. I was a little disappointed that I had one bogey on the back nine but I came home strong with a couple of birdies, at 17 and 18."
Like Furyk, Day was thankful for an afternoon teetime after the early starters, including McIlroy, who did superbly well to card a 67, had to contend with driving rain and a weather delay of 45 minutes.
"We got a little lucky on the draw," said Day. "We didn't get as much rain. We didn't really get a delay out there which was nice. The guys in the morning, I've just seen some pictures of some of the guys in the morning. It was pouring pretty hard."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)