Tiger Woods among PGA leaders after brutal, gusty day at Kiawah
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- The wind blew them backward one by one, birdies giving way to bogeys, pars giving way to double-bogeys and worse. If the second round of the 94th PGA Championship at Kiawah's Ocean Course were an Olympic event, it would be Synchronized Suffering.
The judges had plenty to consider, not including the round of the day by 49-year-old Vijay Singh, a three-under-par 69 in the morning that put him at four under and in a tie at the top with Tiger Woods (71) and first-round leader Carl Pettersson (74). Ian Poulter was a shot back after a one-under 71.
"It was a tough, tough day," said Woods, who had the lead alone until three-putting 18 for bogey. He took "crazy start lines" off the tees to accommodate "drift" in the wind, he said, but that strategy extended to the putting surfaces, too, where Woods said he was playing as much as a foot of break for crosswinds.
(Related Photos: Round 2 at wind-swept Kiawah)
For many, the tournament didn't so much unfold as it did unravel on Friday.
Gary Woodland was leading at six under when, playing into the teeth of a 25 mile-per-hour wind, he suddenly went eight over par in a stretch of eight holes. He pulled his white cap over his eyes and left it there for a few beats after putting out for 79.
Miguel Angel-Jimenez made a quadruple-bogey 8 on the third hole, shot 77 and yet still comfortably made the cut. Paul Casey shot 85 and did not. Jason Day, Rickie Fowler and Nick Watney were among the 41 players who failed to break 80. The scoring average for the day was 78.11, almost five shots worse than Thursday.
Even the day's big winners had horror stories. Rory McIlroy, who shot what some considered par for the day, 75, and was at two under, inexplicably hit a 30-foot birdie putt only 10 feet and made bogey. Pettersson, the immovable object who won at nearby Hilton Head in April, came back to the field with three straight late bogeys. Defending champion Keegan Bradley (77, one over) had four straight bogeys during one stretch.
"You can't get aggressive with this weather," McIlroy said. "You don't even care where the pin is. You just try and hit it on the green somewhere. I'll just keep playing how I am and see how this thing unfolds."
To a man, the players said the challenge was that Kiawah is a links course, with links wind and links beach grass framing the holes to swallow up stray shots, but it doesn't allow for links-style shotmaking. With its cereal bowl greens, the Pete Dye course calls for approach shots to be played through the air, not along the ground as on a true links.
"You know, after a while you don't really think about your score," said Singh, who will be eligible for the Champions tour in less than a year. "You just think about each hole, each shot, and just try not to mess up."
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The best way to make a move Friday was to stand still. Phil Mickelson shot 71 and moved up 55 places into a tie for 11th. Mickelson? Nobody was talking about Mickelson when this PGA began. He WD'd from the Memorial, hit his first shot into a tree at the U.S. Open, and completed his descent into golf oblivion with a missed cut at the British. But at even par here, he's just four off the lead.
"We had about a five- or 10-minute spurt there where the wind just started gusting 35 or so and it started raining," said Mickelson, who birdied his first two holes of the day, the 10th and 11th, which played dead into the wind. "And we hit three just really kind of funky shots that were all pretty solidly struck."
When the second round began there were 44 players under par. By the time the day ended the number was 10: Singh, Woods and Pettersson; Poulter a shot back; Jamie Donaldson (73) and McIlroy (75) two behind; and Aaron Baddeley (75), Adam Scott (75), Blake Adams (72) and Trevor Immelman (72) three back.
"We have a long way to go," said an exhausted Woods, his shirt soaked with sweat as he spoke in the media tent. "I don't know what the forecast is for [Saturday], if it's going to blow like this or not blow like this, but if it's anything like this over the weekend, with no rain, it's going to be tough. It's going to be tough to get the ball close to these holes."
He sounded spent, looked in need of a shower, and walked into the night in search of a square meal and some sleep. But after 23 one-putts so far, Woods was in a three-way tie for the lead. This is what winning looks like at Kiawah.