Woods, Singh Shine on Brutal Day at the PGA Championship
by Alex Urban | University of GeorgiaImage courtesy of VijaySinghGolf
Day 2 of the PGA Championship, and the names at the top of the leader board are vintage 2003.
On a brutal day at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island that saw only five players break par, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh were able to claim a share of the lead at the 2012 PGA Championship. The two will play in the final pairing on Saturday.
They lead at 4-under 140, along with first round leader Carl Pettersson.
The Ocean Course proved to be vulnerable yesterday when there was a negligible amount of wind. Today it proved the exact opposite.
After a relatively benign opening day where the course surrendered 44 under-par scores, the most since 60 players were under par in the first round of the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah, the wind decided to turn the Ocean Course into a slaughterhouse and the scoring average almost six full strokes over par.
The forecast last night called for calm conditions in the morning with the wind picking up in the afternoon. Apparently the wind decided not to listen to the forecast. When the players showed up this morning, it was already blowing 20 mph sustained, and it never let up. According to the Kiawah Island Resort, the strongest gust of wind today was 38 mph.
The scores, along with the wind, went way up on Friday as well. Only five players were able to shoot under par in the second round, 39 less than yesterday. Those five players? Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Ian Poulter and Michael Hoey.
“I’m very pleased to be able to shoot under par today,” Woods said. “That was the goal, anything par or better today was going to be a great score, and I was able to accomplish that.”
Woods said he has been pleased with his putting and driving through two days at the Ocean Course. He has 22 one-putts through two rounds.
“I’m swinging it well. I’ve been driving the ball well all year, and I’ve been putting streaky all year,” Woods said. “Finally I’ve married the two together, and it’s working out.
49-year-old Vijay Singh was able to record the best score of the day with a brilliant 69 (3-under).
“I just tried to make my pars and miss it in the correct spot if I was out of position,” Singh said.
With a golf course that is already difficult, Singh talked about how much harder it gets when you add 30 mph of wind.
“It’s one of the tougher conditions I’ve ever played,” Singh said. “Put this golf course in the middle of all that, and it becomes even more brutal.
It isn’t uncommon for wind to blow this hard at a British Open site, but to see it on a course in the United States is different. With the paspalum grass at Kiawah combined with the rain, the ball is not running like it would on a British links course. That makes it more difficult, because players have to fly the ball, exposing it to more wind than if they played it on the ground. This is especially true on shots around the green.
2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell remarked on the strength of the wind following his 4-over 76, which leaves him at even par for the championship.
“The wind was affecting the ball 30 to 40 yards,” McDowell said. “It is a stiff test of golf. You really have to be on putting and chipping because you are going to miss greens.”
Despite the tough conditions, it was possible to shoot a good score today. Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson matched Woods’ mark of 1-under par, moving them into a good position heading into the weekend.
First-round leader Carl Pettersson is also tied for the lead heading into moving day and likes the way he grinded on a tough day.
“I thought 2 over today was like shooting 2 under yesterday,” Pettersson said. “It was just a very difficult day to get any rhythm. You can’t have expectations out there on days like today.”
The wind is expected to blow again tomorrow, but not as hard — though with what happened today, the forecast may not be a good indication of what the wind will actually do. If it continues to blow, expect the superior shot makers to continue to shine, especially because the course is playing soft.
One thing is for sure, the familiar name at the top of the leaderboard looking for his 15th major championship and first since the 2008 U.S. Open likes his position.
“I’m right there with a chance,” Woods said. He then paused and added a wry smile. “I like that.”Alex Urban is a NGJ Voices Contributor and Public Relations Master's student at the University of Georgia. He graduated from Clemson University in 2011 and was the editor of Clemson's school paper's (The Tiger News) opinions section. He is interested in a wide range of topics from international relations to sports and pop culture.