On the toughest scoring day in PGA Championship history, Woods made putts from one end of Kiawah Island to the other Friday for 1-under 71 that gave him a share of the lead with Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson going into the weekend.
“It was tough out there –wow,” Woods said.
In a relentless wind that began at sunrise and whipped up the Atlantic waters with 30 mph gusts, par never looked better in this championship. There were more rounds in the 90s – two of them by club pros – than in the 60s. More than 30 players failed to break 80, including Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar and Hunter Mahan.
Singh, a three-time major champion who hasn’t won in nearly four years, scratched out five birdies in a remarkable round of 3-under 69. Only three other players broke par in the second round – Michael Hoey at 70, and Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter at 71.
It’s the second time this year that Woods has had a share of the lead in a major going into the weekend. He missed one chance at Olympic Club in the U.S. Open, when he stumbled to a 75-73 to tie for 21st. He was in the penultimate group at the British Open until a triple bogey on the sixth hole of the final round took him out of the mix.
“I’ve been in this position many times over my career,” he said. “Again, we’re just at the halfway point. We have a long way to go.”
Six players were atop the leaderboard on this day of survival. Singh was the first to post at 4-under 140, and it didn’t look as though anyone would be able to even match that as the wind never let up on The Ocean Course.
Pettersson stayed in the lead as long as he could until a few errant tee shots cost him at the end of his round and he had to settle for 74.
Woods, playing on the opposite side of the course, showed early on that he figured out something with his putter.
Along with birdie putts of 15 feet and 40 feet on the opening two holes, there was a collection of big par saves – from 20 feet on the third hole, a pair of 8-foot par putts a few holes later. There were even two short par putts that swirled 360 degrees around the cup and dropped.
The only disappointment was the way it ended. After hooking a tee shot that rattled around the corporate tents and allowed him a shot into the 18th, he ran his birdie putt about 6 feet by the hole and three-putted for bogey.
It cost him his first outright lead in a major in three years, but this was not a day to complain.
“It was fun, but it also was tough,” Woods said. “You were getting blown all over the place. It was just a very difficult day.”
Poulter was tied for the lead until a bogey on his last hole, though he showed again that he can thrive in windy, demanding conditions. The last time he was in serious contention at wind-swept Royal Birkdale in 2008, when he was runner-up to Padraig Harrington.
“The golf shots this golf course asks you to hit time and time and time and time again ... you really have to hit phenomenal golf shots,” Poulter said. “The room for error is so tiny, and when you get it wrong, you can be 15 feet below the level of the green in a bad lie with not much of a shot.”
The course played so difficult that the afternoon groups were delayed 20 minutes, and one player failed to finish – Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, who was 1 over for the tournament and will return Saturday morning to finish his round. The scoring average was 78.11. The previous record for the PGA Championship was 76.8 in the opening round at Llanerch Country Club in 1958.