Lee Westwood is perfectly placed to challenge for his first major title after posting a second round 68 to lie on 138, six under par. Westwood held the clubhouse lead at lunch on the second day of the 81st USPGA Championship, but was overtaken in the afternoon by American Jay Haas, Canadian Mike Weir and Tiger Woods, as the last major of the century headed into the weekend.
Spanish teenager Sergio Garcia added a one over par 73 to his opening 66 to remain well placed among the leaders, a shot better than compatriot Miguel Angel Jimenez. European Tour Number One Colin Montgomerie shot a second round 70, two under par, to join Sweden’s Jesper Parnevik and Gabriel Hjertstedt on 142.
No European-born player has won the USPGA crown since Tommy Armour in 1930 - and he was an American citizen by then - but at lunchtime Garcia and Westwood looked down on the rest of the field.
Westwood, winner of his last two tournaments, holed from eight feet to save par, but then three-putted the difficult short second. Forced to putt across the fringe his 35-foot attempt raced 20 feet past and he missed the return.
The 26-year-old, who led the Masters with nine to play in April, quickly hit back, however. He was on in two at the 530-yard fifth and two-putted for birdie, then struck a two-iron to 12 feet on the 206-yard eighth and made that for another.
He then birdied the tenth, holing from 55 feet and followed that by hitting a nine-iron to within inches of the cup at the 407-yard 11th. His fifth birdie of the day came on the 389-yard 15th and he finished with yet another.
"This is the first time I haven't had to play much catch-up in a major and I'm enjoying it,” said Westwood. "I probably didn't play as well as I did for my 70, but I holed more putts. I've won 16 times and I suppose the next step is a major. I'm feeling very confident."
Open champion Paul Lawrie, who began his first-ever tournament in America by grabbing four birdies in five holes and leading before falling back, shot a one over par 73.
Eighteen European Tour Members qualified for the weekend including the seven players who occupy positions eight to 14 in the Ryder Cup Points Table - Jean Van de Velde, Robert Karlsson, Andrew Coltart, Bernhard Langer, Garcia, Mark James, and Alex Cjeka.
American Jay Haas leads after improving a stroke on his opening 68 to stand nine under, just a stroke behind was Canadian left-hander Mike Weir after his second successive 68 - and then two back came title favourite Tiger Woods, who gave himself another chance of a second Major by matching Haas's 67 as heavy rain returned late in the day.