By Steve Keating
ROCHESTER, New York (Reuters) -Bryson DeChambeau was holding strong at the top of the PGA Championship leaderboard on Friday, as gusting winds added to Oak Hill’s already sturdy defences putting the breaks on potential challenges.
A slimmed down DeChambeau planted the LIV Golf flag top of the standings, returning a four-under 66 after a frost delayed first round and remained there as the early wave were unable to knock the 2020 U.S. Open champion from his perch.
Eric Cole had held the overnight lead getting to five-under before play was halted on Thursday due to darkness.
Leading by one stroke, the PGA Tour rookie got off to a nervous start by sending his first shot into the creek lining the par four sixth.
A missed short putt added to a wobbly start for the American, who took a six to drop into a tie for second with world number two Scottie Scheffler, former world number one Dustin Johnson and Canadian Corey Conners on three-under.
Cole steadied the ship by closing out with three consecutive pars to leave DeChambeau in front by one.
Right back out for his second round Cole’s problems continued with a bogey at the first and another double-bogey at the sixth to send him tumbling down the leaderboard.
The early starters had the best of the conditions as winds picked up dramatically turning the already treacherous East Course into a beast with just 12 players under par for the tournament.
Justin Rose was out among the early wave and took full advantage of the still conditions picking up three birdies on his opening seven holes to join DeChambeau at the top.
But the Briton, playing the back nine first, would bogey 18 to fall back.
Scheffler, who posted his first ever bogey free round at a major with a tidy 67, will go out among the later starters.
Also in the late wave are defending champion Justin Thomas, world number three Rory McIlroy and world number one Jon Rahm, who will need a super effort if he is to make the cut after an opening round 76.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Rochester; Editing by Ken Ferris)
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