The third major of the year is upon us, and one man in particular will be hoping it goes more smoothly than the second.

World number one Scottie Scheffler saw his bid for a first PGA Championship crown unravel at Valhalla Golf Course, with Xander Schauffele ultimately edging out Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland for his first major crown.

Many expect the duo – currently the top two in golf's world rankings – to battle it out for glory on Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort this week, as the U.S. Open heads back to North Carolina. 

Rory McIlroy could have something to say about that, with last year's second-place finish at the U.S. Open the closest he has come to ending his decade-long major drought.

Ahead of the 124th edition of the tournament, which features the largest purse of any major at $20million, we run through the likely contenders, the storylines to keep an eye on and what to expect from the course.

The course

Pinehurst No. 2 is hosting the U.S. Open for the fourth time, having previously been used for the 1999, 2005 and 2014 editions. 

Since it first welcomed the event, the course has been home to the tournament more times than any other venue.

The course, which was renovated in 2011, is known for rewarding putting accuracy over driving excellence, and it has not always favoured home players in the past.

While Pinehurst No. 2's first staging of the U.S. Open produced a United States-born victor in Payne Stewart, New Zealand's Michael Campbell triumphed in 2005 and Germany's Martin Kaymer won by eight strokes in 2014. 

That was the second-largest margin of victory recorded at the U.S. Open since the World War II after Tiger Woods triumphed by 15 shots at Pebble Beach in 2000.

Expect four gruelling days. Indeed, across the previous four editions of the U.S. Open to be played at Pinehurst No. 2, only Kaymer in 2014 (-9) finished with a score better than one under par for the week.

The contenders 

Fresh off the back of his first major success, Schauffele will expect to be in the running again. He is one of four players to finish inside the top 10 at both of this year's majors to date, having ranked eighth at the Masters. The others to do so are Scheffler, DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa.

Five players have previous won both the PGA Championship and the U.S. Open in the same year – Gene Sarazen (1922), Ben Hogan (1948), Jack Nicklaus (1980), Woods (2000) and Brooks Koepka (2018).

The clear favourite once again, though, is Scheffler. 

He was arrested and charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving and disregarding traffic signals from an officer after attempting to pass an incident outside Valhalla ahead of his second round last month.

He finished the tournament in a share of eighth – an admirable effort, given the disruption – and saw his charges dismissed just 12 days after his arrest.

The incident has not done much to affect his form. Scheffler claimed his fifth title of the year at the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament last week, becoming just the second player – alongside Woods – to win the Players Championship, Masters and Memorial in the same year.

He has won five of his eight tournaments on the PGA Tour since March, finishing T2 twice and T8 once in the other three. 

Reflecting on the way he responded to his arrest at Valhalla, Scheffler said: "I call it compartmentalising parts of my life.

"So I have my off-course life and then I have my on-course life, when I'm out here practicing and playing tournaments. I don't show up to these tournaments just to play. I'm here to do my best and compete."

Besides Scheffler and Schauffele, McIlroy will be hoping to go one better after finishing one stroke behind champion Wyndham Clark at last year's U.S. Open.

Having fallen short at the year's first two majors, the Northern Irishman hopes the firm conditions expected in North Carolina will play into his hands. 

"After the Open Championship in 2019 I'd had a disappointing run in the majors, and I tried to change my mindset," he told The Telegraph.

"Since then I've come to love it when it is fast and firm. If you look at my results in the U.S. Open and some of the toughest tests from 2019 until now, I would say the U.S. Open has arguably been my best major in the last few years."

Morikawa should also be there or thereabouts, having been narrowly edged out by Scheffler on his most recent outing at the Memorial.

Alongside Ludvig Aberg, he has the most top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour this year without a victory (six). Might his luck turn this week?

The legends

The U.S. Open will also feature a couple of players attempting to recapture past glories, with Woods the one most fans are looking forward to seeing.

He missed the cut at the PGA Championship after carding scores of 72 and 77, subsequently admitting improvements are needed in all areas if he is to fare better on his first U.S. Open appearance since 2020.

"I need to clean up my rounds," Woods said after the PGA Championship. "Physically, yes, I am better than I was a month ago.

"I still have more ways to go, lots of improvement to do physically, and hopefully my team and I can get that done pre-Pinehurst."

Only four players – Willie Anderson, Bobby Jones, Hogan and Nicklaus (four apiece) – have bettered Woods' three U.S. Open triumphs, and his most recent victory at the event was the last to be decided by a playoff, seeing off Rocco Mediate in 2008.

While Woods has enjoyed plenty of success at the U.S. Open, the same cannot be said for Phil Mickelson.

It is the only major he has not won in his 32 attempts, 30 as a professional and two as an amateur, and his six second-place finishes at the U.S. Open are more than any other player.

The first of those came 25 years ago, at Pinehurst No. 2.

The history 

For all the big names on show, the U.S. Open does have a tendency to throw up surprise victors.

Indeed, since Woods triumphed at Torrey Pines in 2018, 12 of the next 15 U.S. Opens have produced a first-time major champion. That includes the last five editions, with Gary Woodland, DeChambeau, Jon Rahm and Matt Fitzpatrick triumphing before Clark.

Clark could become just the fourth player since World War II to retain the U.S. Open title, after Hogan (1950 and 1951), Curtis Strange (1988 and 1989) and Koepka (2017 and 2018). 

Last year's victory at Los Angeles Country Club remains his only top-30 finish at a major – he missed the cut at this year's Masters and PGA Championship.

The U.S. Open was formerly known as a real test of endurance, but things have changed somewhat in recent years.

From 2005 to 2013, six of nine editions produced an even/over-par winning score, but nine of the last 10 have been won with an under-par score, the exception being Koepka's 2018 victory at Shinnecock Hills (+1).

What kind of score will be required this time out? If Scheffler maintains his outstanding form, he will take some beating. 

Scottie Scheffler is unsure whether his arrest on Friday was a factor after a disappointing Saturday led to him finishing tied for eighth at a "hectic" PGA Championship.

On Friday, world number one Scheffler was arrested outside Valhalla Golf Club ahead of his second round.

It subsequently emerged that he faces charges of second-degree assault of a police officer, third-degree criminal mischief, reckless driving, and disregarding traffic signals from an officer directing traffic.

Scheffler shot a five-under 66 in the delayed second round, one stroke better than his first round, but a two-over 73 on Saturday all but ended his hopes of back-to-back major wins.

Xander Schauffele ultimately claimed his first major title at 21 under, eight shots ahead of Scheffler.

Speaking after Sunday's final round, in which a run of seven birdies in 10 holes helped him card a 65, Scheffler said he was proud of the way he finished the event. 

"I think 'hectic' would probably be a good description," Scheffler said. "I'm fairly tired, definitely a lot more tired than I have been finishing some other tournaments.

"I'm proud of today how we went out there and fought. I got off to a slow start and I was able to get some momentum and post a good round.

"Yesterday obviously was quite frustrating and a bit of a different day, but overall proud of how I fought this week. Was fortunate to be out here competing, doing what I love."

Asked whether his arrest had an impact on his performance, Scheffler said: "It's hard to tell. I think I would attribute it mostly to a bad day. 

"I think when you come out here to compete, you're doing what you can throughout the course of the round to post a score and I wasn't able to get that done yesterday.

"Did I feel like myself? Absolutely not. Was my warm-up the way it usually is and the distractions the way they normally are? Absolutely not. 

"I got arrested Friday morning and I showed up here and played a good round of golf. So I've been good throughout my career at leaving the off-course distractions at home and keeping a pretty quiet personal life.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that I played poorly yesterday because of what happened on Friday. I just had a bad day out on the course and was proud of how I came out here and bounced back today."

Xander Schauffele says that he captured the moment during his PGA Championship win after handling the big moments better than he had in the past.

Schauffele won his maiden major victory with a dramatic one-shot win at Valhalla, Kentucky on Sunday, making history as he finished 21 under, the lowest 72-hole score in men’s major history.

He held off late challenges from Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland to secure the Wanamaker Trophy after carding a 65 on the final day.

"It feels amazing," Schauffele told reporters after his win.

"Winning, I said it earlier, is a result. This is awesome, it's super sweet, but when I break it down, I'm really proud of how I handled certain moments on the course today, different from the past."

"I was pretty nervous. I don't really remember it [the birdie putt] lipping in, I just heard everyone roaring and I looked up to the sky in relief.

"I really did not want to go into a play-off with Bryson. Going up 18 with his length, it's not something that I was going to have a whole lot of fun with.

"I was able to capture that moment there... I just kept telling myself I need to earn this, earn this and be in the moment, and I was able to do that."

Despite lifting the trophy, Schauffele believes that he still has work to do to reach Scottie Scheffler.

The world number one had a turbulent week, which saw him arrested ahead of the second round on Friday, and he finished joint-eighth.

"All of us are climbing this massive mountain and at the top of the mountain is Scottie Scheffler," Schauffele added. "I won this today, but I'm still not that close to Scottie Scheffler in the big scheme of things.

"I got one good hook up there in the mountain up on that cliff, and I'm still climbing. I might have a beer up there on that side of the hill there and enjoy this, but it's not that hard to chase when someone is so far ahead of you."

Xander Schauffele secured a maiden major victory with a dramatic one-shot win to make history in the PGA Championship.

Schauffele held off late challenges from Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland to finish on 21 under at Valhalla – the lowest 72-hole score in men’s major history.

Hovland had briefly taken the lead after six birdies in eight holes, but Schauffele pulled it back with birdies on the 11th and 12th.

DeChambeau then birdied the last hole to card a 64, drawing level with his fellow American and setting him up for a nervy finish.

However, Schauffele, who led the tournament after equalling the best round at a major when he carded 62 in round one, claimed the Wanamaker Trophy with his final shot, putting a six-foot birdie.

"I was emotional after the [winning] putt lipped in," said Schauffele. "It's been a while since I've won – I really did not want to go into a play-off with Bryson.

"My dad is in Hawaii, and I managed to call him, but I had to hang up quickly because he was making me cry."

Justin Rose and Shane Lowry, who brilliantly equalled Schauffele’s 62 on Saturday, finished 14 under in joint-sixth.

Two-time major winner Collin Morikawa went into the final round as joint-leader alongside the PGA Championship winner, but a disappointing Sunday meant he finished five off the pace.

World number one, Scottie Scheffler ended a tumultuous week in joint-eighth, meanwhile, Rory McIlroy finished outside the top 10 on 12 under.

The Northern Irishman had been hotly tipped to end his long wait for another major title, yet he found the water with approach shots on the 13th and 15th.

McIlroy was just ahead of Kentucky native Justin Thomas, who carded a bogey-free 68 on the final day.

"It was wild. I've never felt so loved, I've had a lot of fun this week," Thomas told Sky Sports.

"That was pretty special walking up 18. I obviously wish I had a chance to win, but it was just so much fun. I can't put it into words. It's special.

"I'm glad I could do this and play in my home town."

Rory McIlroy believes "the stars are aligning" for him as he approaches this week's PGA Championship on the back of a fourth triumph at the Wells Fargo Championship.

McIlroy hauled in leader Xander Schauffele to win in Charlotte with a fine finish to his final round, surging clear with a run of four birdies and two eagles within eight holes.

That saw the Northern Irishman – who also won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2010, 2015 and 2021 – card a six-under 65 as he won by five shots.

Max Homa, in 2019 and 2022, is the only other player to have won the Wells Fargo Championship more than once. 

McIlroy has now claimed back-to-back PGA Tour titles, having won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans alongside Shane Lowry last month.

With the PGA Championship beginning at Valhalla Golf Club on Thursday, the course where McIlroy captured his last major crown in 2014, he feels he is building up a head of steam.

"I really got some confidence winning in New Orleans with Shane," McIlroy said after his final round.

"Coming into this week, at a golf course I am comfortable with, my golf swing feels more comfortable than it has done.

"Going to a venue next week where I have won, it feels like the stars are aligning a little bit. But I have a lot of golf to play and a lot of great players to try to beat.

"I am going into the next major of the year feeling really good about myself."

Even with a double bogey on the 18th hole, McIlroy played the final 11 holes at six under, leaving Schauffele with no way to respond.

"He's Rory McIlroy, you know?" Schauffele said. "He hits it 350 yards in the air downwind and he has shorter clubs into firm greens than anyone else. 

"When he's on, he's on. Hats off to him for winning. He played unbelievably well."

Davis Riley and Nick Hardy earned their first PGA Tour wins on Sunday by securing the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with a tournament-record score of 30 under par.

The American duo shot scores of 64 and 63 in their four-ball rounds on Thursday and Saturday, and they also excelled in the foursomes format, posting 66 on Friday before closing with a seven-under 65.

With five birdies from their last eight holes, Hardy and Riley broke two strokes clear of the chasing pack, eclipsing the scoring record of 29 under set by the team of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele just last year.

For their efforts, Hardy and Riley earned $1.24million each, along with a massive jump into the top 40 of the FedExCup rankings.

Two strokes behind in outright second place was the Canadian team of Adam Hadwin with Nick Taylor, who posted a final-round 63 to tie the tournament's foursomes scoring record, which Cantlay and Schauffele set on Friday.

Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler enjoyed an outright third finish at 27 under, while defending champions Cantlay and Schauffele were joined in fourth at 26 under by Matthew NeSmith with Taylor Moore.

The team of Keith Mitchell with Im Sung-jae came into Sunday's play at 25 under and finished the same way, blowing a golden opportunity to threaten the leaders, while the impressive young South Korean duo of Tim Kim and Kim Si-woo banked a top-10 finish at 23 under.

Wyndham Clark and Beau Hossler retained their lead at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with a third-round 62 in Saturday's four-ball.

The duo carded a 10-under 62 to be 26-under overall heading into the final day, leading by one stroke from Keith Mitchell and Sung-jae Im at TPC Louisiana.

The three teams are tied for third at 23-under overall, in Vincent Norrman and Matthias Schwab, Matthew NeSmith and Taylor Moore, and Nick Hardy and Davis Riley.

Clark and Hossler produced a bogey-free round with 10 birdies, including three in a row to start the back nine.

Clark birdied the 18th to ensure their solo lead from Mitchell and Im, who also went without a bogey for the round with the South Korean providing six front-nine birdies.

Matt and Alex Fitzpatrick also managed a third-round 62 to be 21-under overall, tied for seventh alongside two other teams.

Reigning champions Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay could only manage a six-under 66 on Saturday to slip down the leaderboard at 20-under overall.

Charley Hoffman, playing alongside Nick Watney, provided a highlight with a hole-in-one on the par-three ninth hole. The duo are back at 17-under overall.

The stroke play tournament concludes with the alternate shot format on Sunday.

After a disappointing opening round, the defending champion team of Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele shot Friday's best round to climb into the top five at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The highest-ranked duo in the field, world number four Cantlay and world number five Schauffele made the foursomes format look easy, posting a nine-under 63 in the alternate shot style. It set a new tournament record for a foursomes round.

It comes after they finished Thursday's first round outside of the cut-line as they could only muster a five-under 67 in the easier four-ball format, but they were three strokes better than every other team on their second trip around TPC Louisiana.

They are two strokes off the outright leading pair of Wyndham Clark with Beau Hossler, following their 61 with a solid 67 to be the only team at 16 under heading into the weekend.

One stroke behind in a tie for second are the teams of Im Sung-jae with Keith Mitchell and Doc Redman with Sam Ryder, while the Cantlay/Schauffele team are in a five-way tie for fourth.

The highly-rated team of Sam Burns and Billy Horschel are at 11 under in a tie for 20th, where they are joined by strong South Korean duo Tom Kim with Kim Si-woo, and also the Fitzpatrick brothers – Matt and Alex.

One of the favourites coming into the tournament, the team of Max Homa and Collin Morikawa missed the cut at eight under.

Matt Fitzpatrick and his brother Alex shot a four-ball round of 62 on Thursday at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans to sit one stroke off the lead through 18 holes in the unique format.

The only duos event on the PGA Tour calendar, the pairs of Wyndham Clark with Beau Hossler and Sean O'Hair with Brandon Matthews took the first-round lead with 11-under 61s as each member played every hole, with only the best score from each hole counting towards their team's score.

Hossler contributed seven of his team's 11 birdies, while Matthews had five birdies and an eagle for his pairing.

The Fitzpatrick brothers poured in five birdies each to earn a spot in the five-way tie for second place, joined by the teams of Keith Mitchell with Im Sung-jae, David Lipski with Aaron Rai, Henrik Norlander with Luke List, and Noh Seung-yul with Michael Kim.

Last year's runners-up Sam Burns and Billy Horschel are three strokes off the pace in a logjam at eight under, while one of the strongest teams in the field featuring world number 13 Collin Morikawa and world number seven Max Homa are tied for 43rd at six under.

Reigning champions Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay were disappointing, two strokes outside of the cut-line at five under, but they will hope to claw their way back into things when the format switches to alternate shot foursomes on Friday.

Last week's Masters champion Jon Rahm shook off his poor opening round and rebounded with Friday's best score, while Jimmy Walker opened up a three-stroke lead at the RBC Heritage.

Rahm had a bit of a hangover following his second major victory, beginning his week at Harbour Town Golf Links with a one-over 72, before showing the field how it was done with a seven-under 64 on his second trip around the course.

He birdied holes two, three, four and five to kick-start a bogey-free round with seven birdies overall, jumping from the wrong side of the cut line to a tie for 18th at six under.

Meanwhile, at the top of the leaderboard it was Jimmy Walker who raced clear of the pack, posting his second 65 in a row to head into the weekend at 12 under.

Walker, 44, is a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, but his last victory came at the 2016 PGA Championship, and he came into this event with only four made cuts from 12 starts this season.

He has his work cut out for him to hold off a star-studded chasing pack, with world number two Scottie Scheffler joined by major champion Justin Rose and world number six Xander Schauffele at nine under.

Fellow top-10 talents Patrick Cantlay and Viktor Hovland are one stroke further back at eight under, where they are joined by English duo Aaron Rai and Tommy Fleetwood in a tie for fifth.

Jordan Spieth is tied for 10th at seven under with a group that includes Rickie Fowler and former RBC Heritage champion Matt Kuchar, and Rahm is joined at six under by reigning U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

Young South Korean phenom Tim Kim missed the cut by one stroke, while Max Homa had a week to forget, finishing at three over to miss the cut by five strokes.

Play was suspended in Thursday's opening round of the RBC Heritage with Viktor Hovland clinging onto the outright lead following his seven-under 64.

It was a great first trip around Harbour Town Golf Links for the Norwegian, going bogey-free with seven birdies.

Hovland, 25, is coming off some terrific results, tying for third at The Players Championship in March before a tied-seventh finish at the Masters last week.

He leads by one stroke from Jimmy Walker, Aaron Rai and Brian Harman, although Harman is the only of the trio to have finished their round, with Walker still having two holes to play, while Rai has three more to try and track down Hovland.

There is a logjam tied for fifth at five under including major champions Matt Fitzpatrick, Zach Johnson and Justin Rose, with Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele a further shot back at four under.

Defending champion Jordan Spieth is joined by world number two Scottie Scheffler and three-time champion at this event Stewart Cink at three under, while top-10 talents Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay headline the group at two under. 

Last week's Masters champion Jon Rahm shot a disappointing one-over 72, and world number seven Max Homa (two over) is also on the wrong side of the cut-line heading into Friday.

Jon Rahm birdied the last hole of his first round to join Viktor Hovland in a share of the Masters lead.

Hovland held a three-shot advantage at one stage as he started the first major of the year with a magnificent seven-under 65 on Thursday.

Rahm matched the Norwegian's round to become the co-leader at Augusta National after starting with a double bogey.

The 2021 U.S. Open champion eagled the par-five eighth to go three under and fire a warning to the rest of the field.

Rahm birdied the 13th, 15th and 16th before rolling in a short putt for another gain at 18 following a brilliant approach shot.

Hovland had earlier signed for his lowest Masters round and his joint-best in a major, ending his day without a solitary bogey in great conditions.

Cameron Young and Brooks Koepka are just two shots behind the leading duo, with fellow American Sam Burns also five under through only eight holes.

Jordan Spieth, Shane Lowry, Xander Schauffele, Adam Scott, Joaquin Niemann and Sam Bennett are well poised on four under.

Bennett matched the record for the best front nine by an amateur in the Masters, hitting the turn in 32.

Defending champion Scottie Scheffler was two under approaching the turn, while Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are one over and two over respectively in Georgia.

Will Zalatoris withdrew from the prestigious event due to injury.

Jon Rahm was the major casualty from the WGC Match Play on Friday as Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay all advanced with perfect records.

The Spanish second seed was dumped out after losing 5 and 4 to 2021 WGC Match Play winner Billy Horschel in their final Group 2 match at the Austin Country Club in Texas.

Horschel went 1-up with a par on the second hole and never relinquished the lead, with Rahm failing to register a birdie throughout the day's play.

The 36-year-old American pulled away with birdies on the 10th and 11th holes followed by a 21-foot birdie putt on the 14th to clinch a spot in the round of 16 against Cameron Young.

Horschel progressed in a tight group with a 2-0-1 record ahead of Rickie Fowler (2-1-0), Rahm (1-2-0) and Keith Mitchell (0-2-1).

Top seed and reigning champion Scheffler advanced after beating Tom Kim 3 and 2 to round out a 3-0-0 group stage record.

Kim came out strong with birdies on the first two holes to go 2-up, but Scheffler rallied back immediately winning three of the next four holes.

Third seed McIlroy topped Group 3 unblemished after beating Keegan Bradley 3 and 2, while fourth seed Cantlay beat Brian Harman 2 and 1 to top Group 4 with a 3-0-0 record.

Kurt Kitayama won a three-way sudden death playoff over Tony Finau and Adrian Meronk to progress atop Group 10.

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes produced an upset to advance via Group 12 from Taylor Montgomery who he beat 6 and 4. Jordan Spieth, who beat Hughes on Thursday, missed out after losing to Shane Lowry 2 and 1.

J.J. Spaun also pulled off a surprise by topping Group 11 with a 3-0-0 record, downing Min Woo Lee 2 and 1 to seal his progress.

Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Andrew Putnam, Matt Kuchar, Sam Burns, Lucas Herbert, J.T. Poston, Jason Day and Young also all progressed into Saturday's last 16 knockout stage.

Jon Rahm's brilliant recent run came to a dramatic halt in windy conditions as he slipped down the leaderboard on day two at the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Friday, with Kurt Kitayama taking a two-stroke lead.

Rahm, who has claimed five wins from his past nine starts worldwide, had led the event after an opening-day seven-under 65 but carded a four-over round of 76 on day two to be six strokes off the pace at three-under overall.

The Spaniard's round saw him come back to earth, falling away dramatically late with three bogeys and a double bogey in his final five holes at the Bay Hill Club and Lodge in Florida.

Rahm's struggles opened the door for Kitayama, who had been joint second after the first day. Kitayama backed that up with a four-under 68 with five birdies and one bogey to be nine-under overall.

Kitayama has led three events this season after 36 holes and is yet to convert any into victories.

Over Kitayama's shoulder is three-time major winner Jordan Spieth who found his putting groove to card a three-under-par 69, sitting two shots off the lead at seven-under overall. Spieth might have been closer if not for a bogey on the 18th after a poor drive.

Xander Schauffele and Corey Conners are tied at six under, with Davis Riley, Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatrick and Justin Thomas behind them at five under. Conners carded the day's best round with a six-under 66.

Last month's Honda Classic winner Chris Kirk was tied for second after the opening day but also dropped away with a day-two 75 that included two double bogeys.

Among those to miss the projected cut, with play suspended with two players left on the course, were Collin Morikawa, Tom Hoge and Hideki Matsuyama.

Jon Rahm lived up to his billing as the hottest talent in professional golf after starting his week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a seven-under 65 on Thursday.

Rahm, the world number one, boasts five wins from his past nine starts worldwide and has not finished an event outside the top 10 since finding himself in a tie for 15th in August's Tour Championship.

Coming off a victory in his most recent outing at the Genesis Invitational, Rahm is looking to secure another of the PGA Tour's new elevated events, with the increased prize pool drawing 44 of the world's top-50 players to the famous Bay Hill course.

He certainly made a promising start in Florida, heading into day two with a two-shot lead at the top of the leader board.

Rahm began his day with three consecutive birdies and finished with another two on 17 and 18 having carded an eagle on the par-five 16th.

His sole bogey came on hole eight, failing to recover a par after a wayward tee shot.

Another competitor coming off a win in his most recent start, last week's Honda Classic champion Chris Kirk is tied for second at five under with Cameron Young and Kurt Kitayama.

Not a single player finished their round bogey-free, but Kitayama and Max Homa (two under) made it through 17 holes before their first blemishes came on the 18th.

The group tied for fifth at four under includes some of the game's biggest stars, with world number two Scottie Scheffler joined by three-time major winner Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele and resurgent fan favourite Rickie Fowler.

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