Who said you need to find the fairways to thrive at Oak Hill? Well, just about everybody to be honest. But what

do they know?

Veering off the straight and narrow at this week’s PGA Championship tends to leave you with the kind of agonising lie you’d get on a bed of nails.

Over 36 holes of this mighty major examination, Justin Rose has found just seven fairways. At one-under-par for the championship, however, the 42-year-old Englishman is still very much in the reckoning at the halfway stage of the second men’s major of the season.

“Smoke and mirrors, I guess,” chuckled Rose when asked just how he had managed to post a level-par 70 while missing more fairways than this correspondent at The Herald sports desk’s spring outing.

In total, he found the short stuff just twice from the tee yesterday. According to those US number crunchers who love a statistic, Rose is just the third player in the last 30 years at the PGA Championship to hit seven or fewer fairways through 36 holes and still be under-par. In the grand scheme of things, such a stat means hee-haw but we thought we’d just toss it in anyway.

“I got a few fair lies in the rough, to be honest,” added Rose of his eventful day at the office. “Advancing the ball up and around the green and a good short game helped. When I did catch a bad lie in the rough, I took my medicine and pitched out and tried to avoid the big number. I felt like making a bogey or two around here is no big deal. The fact that I made ten birdies [over two rounds] is remarkable considering how I’ve put the ball in play off the tee.”

In this game, of course, there are many ways to get that little dimpled ball into the hole. And Rose certainly found a way in the early part of his second round. Starting on the 10th, the 2013 US Open champion, rolled in a 15-footer for birdie to get off the mark, then trundled in a 25-footer on the 12th. When another raking birdie putt found the hole on the 16th, Rose was briefly perched at the summit. Rose handed those shots back, however, on the remaining holes but it was still an admirable shift from the former Olympic champion.

Rose’s one and only major triumph arrived a decade ago at Merion where his one-over aggregate was enough to land the bounty. Prior to this week’s showpiece, Rose felt that a four-under tally here would be good enough to win the PGA Championship. If he keeps plodding along at punishing Oak Hill, he may not be far away.

“I think historically I’ve won on harder golf courses, so I think this fits my profile,” he said. “This is right up there. This feels a little bit of a hybrid kind of PGA/US Open this week. I’m looking forward to the test.”

Rose won his first title since 2019 at Pebble Beach earlier this season and the Ryder Cup stalwart has taken plenty of encouragement from that success. “Just proving that you can win again was the biggest thing,” he said. “I felt very, very comfortable once I got into that winning position. This week is a whole other test, though.”

As a frontrunning posse, featuring Scottie Scheffler, Corey Conners, Keegan Bradley and Viktor Hovland inched through the turn last night, there was a sore one to stomach for Scotland’s sole representative, Robert MacIntyre.

Having made the cut in all 10 of the majors he had contested since a debut in The Open in 2019, the 26-year-old made an early exit from upstate New York with a 76 which left him on a 12-over tally.

After a first perusal of Oak Hill earlier in the week, MacIntyre admitted that it was the “hardest golf course I’ve played in my life.” He also described it as an “absolutely brutal course.” The Oban man may have been tempted to mutter one or two more colourful observations after making just one birdie in 36 holes but the young Scot took this particular dunt on the chin.

“I didn’t play as badly as the score suggests, but the way it was set up this week, you couldn’t get away with not being on your game,” he sighed. “It’s horses for courses and it’s not one for me just now.”

As MacIntyre departed, there were a few thoroughbreds vying for supremacy.