Justin Rose two off the lead as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods falter
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 09/09/18 1:52am
Justin Rose will head into the weekend of the BMW Championship just two off the lead as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods endured tough second days in Philadelphia.
Xander Schauffele holds the outright lead at the halfway stage as he bids for the final Ryder Cup wildcard place in Jim Furyk's US team, while Rose's bogey-free 63 hoisted him into outright second place on 11 under par.
But overnight leaders McIlroy and Woods were both unable to match the heights of their opening 62s, with McIlroy battling hard for a 69 to slip four behind Schauffele while Woods bogeyed the last two holes to sign for a disappointing 70.
Schauffele is likely to need a victory on Sunday to forge his way ahead of Tony Finau in Furyk's thinking for his fourth and final captain's pick for the Ryder Cup, and last season's PGA Tour Rookie of the Year went a long way to making the plane for Paris as he added a 64 to his first-round 63.
The 24-year-old was inches away from holing his approach to the second, and he then reeled off three straight birdies from the fifth as he coasted to the turn in 31, and Schauffele picked up a bonus birdie at 11 when he holed from outside 40 feet.
But a wayward drive at the next found a fairway bunker and left him unable to reach the green in two, a mistake that led to only his second bogey of the tournament, and he responded with back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17 as he claimed the clubhouse lead on 13 under.
And with McIlroy and Woods struggling to keep pace, Rose emerged as Schauffele's closest challenger as the Englishman looks to emulate his AT&T National win in 2010 on the same Aronimink course.
Rose birdied three of the first four holes and added another at the eighth, and he followed a further gain at the 12th with a remarkable 60-foot putt for an unlikely three at 13 which got him into double digits under par.
He did well to avoid a blemish when he scrambled a par from 15 feet at the 15th, and Rose converted an excellent bunker splash-out to six feet for his seventh birdie of the day at the next.
Rose safely parred in to stay one ahead of Ryder Cup team-mate Alex Noren, who closed out a bogey-free 66 with a sublime pitch-in for eagle at the ninth which broke a run of 10 consecutive pars for the solid Swede.
Noren shares third with Keegan Bradley (64), Hideki Matsuyama (64) and fan-favourite Rickie Fowler, who birdied three of the last five holes to card a second straight 65 on his return from a back injury.
McIlroy is one further off the pace after a tough day on the greens, missing early close-range chances for birdies over the first five holes before he finally got a putt to drop for a three at the sixth.
But the 2012 champion missed a four-foot par putt at the eighth and dropped another stroke at 12 before regrouping to birdie the 13th and 16th holes to claw his way back into the top 10 having shared the first-round lead with Woods.
Reigning FedExCup champion Justin Thomas and Jason Day are also four behind Schauffele at the halfway stage, while Woods - like McIlroy - endured a frustrating day on the greens and lost ground on the leader with his bogey-bogey finish.
And with Rose, McIlroy and Noren all flying high, there was further good news for European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn as Tommy Fleetwood carded a best-of-the-day 62, holing his eighth birdie putt at the ninth to complete a faultless round which saw him vault 37 places up the leaderboard.
Fleetwood was joined on seven under by Open champion Francesco Molinari, who gave Bjorn further reason to cheer with a seven-birdie 63, while Jon Rahm and Henrik Stenson will both look for fast starts on Saturday after they fired 69s to close on five under.