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Xander Schauffele keeps his nose in front at Valhalla

Xander Schauffele keeps his nose in front at Valhalla

Xander Schauffele remained on top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the US PGA Championship but he had 2020 champion Collin Morikawa breathing down his neck at Valhalla Golf Club.

Xander Schauffele

The American had started his week with a record-breaking 62 to lead by three but saw that advantage trimmed to one after 36 holes as a 68 moved him to 12 under.

Morikawa made five birdies in a row coming home to sign for a 65 and be the nearest challenger, a shot clear of fellow American Sahith Theegala and two ahead of home trio Bryson DeChambeau, Mark Hubbard and Scottie Scheffler and Belgian Thomas Detry.

Schauffele has enjoyed a spectacular 2024 so far, rising to third in the Official World Golf Ranking thanks to two runner-up finishes, six further top tens and no missed cuts.

He is still searching for a maiden Major Championship, however, to add to a collection that includes victories in the World Golf Championships, Rolex Series, Olympics and Ryder Cup.

The 30-year-old would have had a bigger lead had he taken all of his chances on Friday but he remained confident he could get over the line having led for three days last time out at Quail Hollow only to miss out on Sunday.

"When you haven't won a golf tournament in a few years, you have to be pretty resilient," said Schauffele, whose last win came at the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open.

"I'm just patient and trying to play the best golf I can and stay out of my own way. I know I'm playing really good golf right now and all I could do is focus on my process and my talk with (caddie) Austin (Kaiser) and that's about it.

"It's just 36 holes. It's a really good start to a tournament. I'm playing some really nice golf. That's kind of it.

"The more times I have a lead, the more comfortable I'll feel, the better I'll sleep. I think I'll just get more confidence the more I can do it."

There was a sombre start to the day with the sad news that John Mills, a man working at the event, was tragically killed in a traffic accident outside Valhalla. The start of play was delayed by an hour and 20 minutes as a result.

When play got under way in wet conditions, Morikawa made an unspectacular start, holing from 12 feet on the 13th and getting up and down for a birdie on the par-five 18th as he turned in 34.

He was still seven under stood on the fourth tee but he then found another gear, putting an approach to eight feet, following that with a 17-footer on the fifth and holing a lengthy effort from just off the green at the next to take the lead.

When he took advantage of the par-five seventh and left himself five feet at the eighth, he had made five birdies in a row but he dropped a shot at the ninth after finishing short of the green with his second.

That still had him two ahead of the other players in the morning wave but overnight leader Schauffele was quick to make a move in the afternoon.

He holed from nearly 40 feet on the third and then got up and down from the sand at the seventh, with a birdie from 16 feet at the ninth edging him back into the solo lead.

He had a two-shot advantage after getting up and down on the par-five tenth but a three-putt on the 11th cut the gap back to one.

Theegala made five birdies and a bogey in his 67, while DeChambeau carded a 65, World Number One Scheffler registered a 66 and Hubbard signed for a 68.

Detry was bogey-free in his 67, birdieing the fourth and 12th before putting his second at the last to eight feet to set up an eagle.

Norway's Viktor Hovland was then in the group at eight under, one shot ahead of defending champion Brooks Koepka, Scot Robert MacIntye and England's Matt Wallace.

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