Furyk in pole position but rejuvenated Rory ready to pounce

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Jim Furyk is the new 11/4 favourite for the USPGA Championship after overhauling fellow American Jason Dufner (3/1) on Day Three at Oak Hill.

Dufner’s record-breaking 63 had put him two ahead after Day Two, but Furyk’s two-under 68 gave him three shots on Dufner’s 71, with the 43-year-old finishing the day on nine under.

But, on another gripping day in upstate New York, there are a number of sub-plots forming that look like producing a thrilling finale to the final major of the year.

The leaderboard has an air of Smorgasboard in third and fourth place as Swedish pair Henrik Stenson (3/1) and Jonas Blixt (14/1) take up the chase, with both bidding to become the first Swede to win a major.

Look a little further down and there’s real intrigue closer to home too. Lee Westwood made up 15 places with a round of two under making up for some of the mistakes made during his four over second round, and few would begrudge the 40-year-old from Worksop his first major here following successive near-misses.

And near misses seem to be the running theme throughout the top half of the leaderboard, with only McIlroy and Aussie Adam Scott (7/1) joining leader Furyk of those in the top ten with a major to their name.

Few will forget Dufner blowing a five-shot lead and losing a play-off in this tournament in 2011, while Stenson finished second behind Phil Mickelson at this year’s British Open.

Steve Stricker (12/1), tied fifth with Scott on five under, is another who’s best memory of the USPGA is as runner-up, in 1998, while even leader Furyk might be forgiven for thinking more of his recent failures – he lead at this stage four times in 2012 and failed to win any – than his US Open win back in 2003.

It leaves last year’s overwhelming winner Rory McIlroy a very tempting punt at 20/1. With two majors to his name already, there’s no doubting he has the temperament, and after a round of 67 put him straight into contention six shots off the lead at three under, it looks like he’s rediscovered his form too.

With a scorecard that read five over after 11 holes in the second round and looking ready to be swallowed by the cut, it represents a remarkable turnaround for the Northern Irishman.

Last year in South Carolina, McIlroy won at a canter by an astonishing eight strokes, and while there’s no way he’ll repeat that feat this time round, having played his last 25 holes in six under, he’s in a similar confident mood. Should those at the top of the leaderboard begin to choke again, Rory is primed to take advantage.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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