Ian Poulter (Getty Images)
Four Europeans were in the top five at the end of an eventful US PGA Championship second round at windy Kiawah Island.
England’s Ian Poulter sit just one off the lead, with Wales’ Jamie Donaldson and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy only two strokes behind the leading trio of Swede Carl Pettersson, Fijian Vijay Singh and American Tiger Woods.
One over for the day through six, Ryder Cup star Poulter’s short game was at its brilliant best as he went 11 holes without a bogey – gaining birdies at the ninth, 11th and 16th.
The only surprise was that he bogeyed the last for 71, but his three under par halfway total still had the 36 year old right in contention going into the weekend.
“It's just obviously very, very difficult,” he said, after a day when the average score was almost 78.
“It's very hard to put it in play, and you're fighting the course for so long, you're fighting the wind, and it's very tiring.
“It's enjoyable when you're at the top end of the leaderboard, as opposed to being down the bottom end or even fighting to make the cut. When you're in contention, then it's fun in a sick way, I guess.”
There were more rounds in the nineties than there were in the sixties - just a 69 from Singh - after fierce winds arrived early and stayed for the rest of the second round.
Joint 14th after an opening 69, four-time champion Woods made a significant move towards grabbing his 15th Major and regaining the World Number One spot with a battling 71.
It was spoilt somewhat by a closing three-putt bogey and that left him joint halfway leader - as he was at the US Open in June - with Singh, at 49 trying to become the oldest Major winner in history, and first round leader Pettersson.
Poulter would have been alongside them but for also three-putting the last for a 71.
Pettersson led by two after holing out from sand at the first - his tenth - but had a hat-trick of bogeys from the sixth and so had to settle for a 74.
World Number Three McIlroy and Donaldson, meanwhile, scored 75 and 73 respectively.
McIlroy, joint second overnight, needed to dig deep when he had four bogeys in the first 13 holes, but even though he dropped another stroke at the 15th it came either side of two birdies.
"It was tough," the 23 year old said. "It was hard getting the ball on the fairway and then onto the green - and then on the green is probably the most difficult bit.
"I could have been a couple of shots better, but I limited the damage and I'm in a good position."
Graeme McDowell, four under overnight, fell back to level par with a 76, while World Number One Luke Donald had the same score and after a long wait to learn his fate squeezed into the final 36 holes with nothing to spare.
"I actually played decent and got nothing out of it," Donald said. "I hung in there pretty well and I hit a lot of shots that I thought would give me a putt for birdie and I ended up taking bogey.
"The frustration builds, but I'm not making any excuses. There's still other things to look for and it makes me more determined to keep working hard."
Last year's Open champion Darren Clarke had a 76 for five over.
Play was suspended for darkness with Joost Luiten the only player left to complete his second round.
The Dutchman, who led the tournament on eight under par before finishing his opening round with four bogeys, had slipped to one over for the week and only had the final hole remaining.