Kiawah Island, South Carolina: For most of Friday’s second round at the PGA Championship, the old Tiger Woods was back, front and centre, as he holed a series of clutch putts and maintained a steady course in gusting winds.
On a gruelling day at Kiawah Island in the year’s final major, he one-putted seven of his first nine holes while carding two birdies, then moved one stroke in front of the field until he three-putted for bogey at the last.
Though he was annoyed with his untidy finish, Woods was delighted to hold a share of the lead with Vijay Singh (69) and Carl Pettersson (74) at four-under 140 after achieving the target he had set himself.
“Going out today, anything even par or better was going to be a good score,” four-times champion Woods told reporters after totalling just 26 putts in a one-under-par 71. “That was my goal, so I went out today and I accomplished that.
“It was a tough, tough day. The ball is oscillating, the wind is blowing the putter all over the place and the starting lines are crazy out there off these tee shots.
“But it was blowing all day, for the morning guys and the afternoon guys, so I don’t think anyone had an advantage.”
Though Woods has produced good form in fits and starts this year, winning a season-high three times on the PGA Tour, he has always judged the true success of his golfing campaigns by the number of majors won.
He was in contention going into the weekend at the last two majors before fading, finishing joint 21st at the US Open and tying for third at the British Open.
“Hey, I’m right there with a chance, and I like that,” said Woods, whose most recent major victory came at the 2008 US Open. “So I’m playing better to where I’m going to give myself chances in major championships.
“I’ve been in this position many times over my career, and again, we are just at the halfway point. We have a long way to go and I don’t know what the forecast is for tomorrow.
“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.”
On the toughest day ever for scoring at a PGA Championship with winds gusting up to 38 miles per hour, Woods looked like the Tiger of old, who many regard as the greatest pressure putter of all time.
He sank birdie putts from 4.5 metres and 12 metres at the second and fourth, sandwiching a par save from 6 metres at the third.
Woods also rammed in a 3-metre to salvage par at the 530-metre seventh and came agonisingly close to chipping in for birdie from below the green at the ninth, his ball settling on the edge of the cup.
“I putted great on the weekend at Akron,” he said, referring to last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where he tied for eighth. “I was rolling the ball the way that I know I can roll it, and I just basically carried it over to here this week.
“There were a couple of times today that I got blown and the putter was wavering all over the place, and I adjusted on the downswing and got a feel for it and timed it up perfectly and ended up making it.
“But then there were times when I didn’t time it right, the wind blew me or it let up and my path changed or my body position changed and I missed it.”
In pursuit of his 15th major title, Woods carded one of only five sub-par rounds at wind-buffeted Kiawah Island on Friday.
The scoring average was 78.11, the highest ever at the PGA Championship and eclipsing the previous record of 76.8 set in the opening round of the first strokeplay edition in 1958 at Llanerch Country Club.