SPRINGFIELD, New Jersey, July 29 (Reuters) - British Open champion Henrik Stenson remained in sublime form, shooting a three-under-par 67 to claim Friday’s early second-round lead at the PGA Championship on rain-softened Baltusrol.
The Swede, who fired a sensational final-round 63 to outduel Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon two weeks ago and set a British Open scoring record with a 20-under total, held a one-stroke lead in the clubhouse with a total of six-under 134.
Tied for second on five-under were 2010 PGA winner Martin Kaymer of Germany (69), Patrick Reed (65) and his fellow American overnight leader Jimmy Walker, who was teeing off in the afternoon.
The second round began ominously when pouring rain led to a 41-minute suspension of play a little more than an hour after the first tee shots of the day.
That downpour followed an inch (2.54 cm) of rain overnight that made the tricky Baltusrol greens more receptive for approach shots and a touch slower for the putter.
Thirty-five players bettered par in the opening round and the early starters kept up that pattern, crowding the leaderboard before the afternoon wave, whose tee times were pushed back 45 minutes due to the rain delay.
Stenson, who started at the 10th, struggled at first with bogeys at 12 and 13 but he did not stay down for long, snapping back with an eagle-three at the par-five 18th.
Three birdies over his second nine gave him his second successive 67 and the inside track to a second successive major title.
Knotted at four-under among the later starters were Ross Fisher of England and Argentina’s 23-year-old Emiliano Grillo, who posted opening rounds of 66.
Others in the afternoon wave included world number one and defending champion Jason Day (68), Phil Mickelson (71) and Rory McIlroy (74).
Another prominent player making a move in the benign early conditions was Jordan Spieth, who got off to a sizzling start with three birdies in his first four holes with a bogey in between after starting the day from the 10th.
Back-to-back birdies on the par-fives at 17 and 18 lifted the world number three to four-under for the day and the tournament, but he gave a stroke back to finish with a 67 for a three-under 137 total.
Tied with Spieth was Japan’s Yuta Ikeda, who also shot 67 on Friday. Afternoon starter Hideki Matsuyama quickly joined his compatriot on three-under with a stunning eagle-two at the par-four second hole where he spun his approach shot into the cup. (Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)