Lee Westwood admitted he had been “kicked where it hurts” after a bad finish to his second round of the 95th US PGA Championship at a soggy Oak Hill.
Westwood had seemingly done the hard work by getting through 16 holes in level par for the day, despite playing the vast majority of those in heavy rain.
But the 40-year-old Englishman then ran up a double-bogey on the eighth and dropped another shot on the ninth to card a 73 that left him one under par at the halfway stage.
That was five off the clubhouse target set by US Open champion Justin Rose and a further shot behind Adam Scott.
Webb Simpson equalled the course record with a 64 to reach the halfway point at four under.
“I played pretty well,” said Westwood, who is still seeking his first major title at the 63rd attempt after letting a two-shot lead slip going into the final round of the Open at Muirfield last month.
“The course was playing really long, the par-four 17th was unreachable, and I was just ticking along before getting kicked where it hurts on the last two holes.
“I would like to have finished par, par but I am in red figures going into the weekend and still have a chance.”
Westwood teed off in light drizzle and made regulation pars at the 10th and 11th before the rain became progressively heavier to threaten another stoppage in play after Thursday’s 70-minute delay.
That did not stop the former world No 1 from rolling in a 25ft birdie putt on the 12th however, and although he was unable to birdie the par-five 13th for the second day running – he missed from four feet immediately after the stoppage yesterday – he did pick up a shot on the next.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy had safely made the halfway cut thanks to a brilliant recovery, the world No 3 adding a 71 to his opening 69 to finish level par.
McIlroy has been watching videos of his eight-shot triumph at Kiawah Island last year for inspiration but it did not look set to pay off when he covered the back nine in 39 after three bogeys and a double-bogey on the par-three 15th.
Another bogey on the first had the 24-year-old in real trouble but he birdied the third, fourth, seventh and eighth to avoid a second straight missed cut in the majors.
McIlroy, who won five times last year but has recorded just one top-three finish in 2013 since his controversial equipment change, said: “I was letting the round get away from me somewhat, but making four birdies on the last eight holes was nice to sort of redeem the round a little bit and keep myself in the tournament.
“Walking up the second hole, which was my 11th hole today, all I wanted to do is be here for the weekend.
“All of sudden, I’m somewhat back in the tournament. I get off to a fast start tomorrow and I’m right there.
“It makes me feel good because maybe in the middle of the season or a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have been standing up here.
“I would have been going home. It’s good to be able to do that and fight back and makes you feel good about yourself going into the weekend.”
American Woody Austin was yesterday given a four-shot penalty for having too many clubs in his bag during the second round.
Players are allowed a maximum of 14 clubs but Austin discovered he had 15 while playing the third hole and reported it to a rules official.
Rule 4-4 states: “The player must not start a stipulated round with more than 14 clubs.” The penalty is two strokes for each hole at which any breach occurred, with a maximum penalty of four strokes.
Austin added two strokes to his score for the first and second holes, turning a par and a bogey into a double-bogey six and triple-bogey seven respectively.
The 49-year-old had started the day just four off the lead after an opening 69 and despite birdies at the fifth and sixth, was now in danger of missing the cut after further dropped shots on the ninth and 10th.
His blunder rekindled memories of Ian Woosnam at the 2001 Open, with the Welshman penalised two shots while challenging in the final round after discovering an extra driver in his bag on the second tee at Lytham.
Earlier, Wales’s Jamie Donaldson withdrew before the second round got under way.
Donaldson, who struggled to a 10-over-par 80 on Thursday, cited a back injury for pulling out of the final major of the year and joined American Bo van Pelt on the sidelines.
Van Pelt, who also recorded an opening 80, withdrew with a hip injury immediately after completing his first round which had otherwise seen players take advantage of the soft conditions.