McIlroy has a lot of work to do to catch Stricker

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (AP) — Just about any other week, Rory McIlroy would’ve already been heading for home.

Not this one.

Even with an aching right wrist, he’s not giving up on chasing down Steve Stricker.

McIlroy struggled through the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday with his injured wrist all taped up. A 3-over 73 — which included a triple bogey — left a daunting deficit heading to the weekend.

Stricker had not even teed off by the time McIlroy finished, having extended his advantage on the U.S. Open champion without hitting a shot.

But sweltering Atlanta Athletic Club was showing its teeth Friday.

Stricker, who opened with a bogey-free 63 and just missed the lowest score in major championship history, bogeyed two of the first six holes in the second round. He was still at 6 under, but D.A. Points, Adam Scott, Jerry Kelly and Scott Verplank were all within two strokes of the lead.

The 44-year-old Stricker was bidding for his first major title. He’s 0-for-52 in his career but keeps making a run at it, having finished in the top 10 at all four of golf’s biggest events.

Stricker had a shot at the first 62 in major championship history on Thursday. A 10-foot birdie putt at his final hole skidded by the right edge of the cup.

In the second round, Points posted the best round from the morning starters, a 67 that pushed him to 4-under 136 at the midway point. Scott, coming off a win at Firestone with Tiger Woods‘ former caddie Steve Williams on the bag, was 3 under through 11 holes.

“It feels great,” Points said, “but it’s only Friday. It’s going to feel a lot better when it’s Sunday.”

What about Woods?

He was trying desperately to make the cut. His score climbed to 9 over when he plugged a wedge in the bunker at the par-5 fifth, leading to bogey, and took another with an ugly three-putt at the seventh.

But Woods closed the front side with back-to-back birdies, moving within three strokes of the projected cut line. He’s failed to make it to the weekend in a major only twice in his professional career: The 2006 U.S. Open and the British Open two years ago.

Just making it through the first two days was an accomplishment for McIlroy, given what he did on his third hole of the tournament. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland strained a tendon when he foolishly took a swing with his ball sitting against a thick tree root.

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