Tiger Woods reads the green on the 18th hole during the second round of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course of the Kiawah Island Golf Resort. (Joshua S. Kelly-US PRESSWIRE)
By Steve DiMeglio, USA TODAY
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (USA TODAY) - Tiger Woods got on a roll early with his putter in Friday's second round of the PGA Championship. Then he used everything he had in his arsenal just to hold on at the end.
And now he's in prime position, just 36 holes from winning his 15th major championship and first since the 2008 U.S. Open.
Woods holds a share of the lead entering the third round of the PGA Championship after managing a 1-under-par 71 on the windswept Ocean Course at Kiawah Island to move to 4-under-par 140. He is joined at the top of the leaderboard by Vijay Singh (69) and Carl Pettersson (74). Ian Poulter (71) is alone in fourth, a stroke back.
"It was tough out there. Wow," Woods said. "You can't take anything for granted. A simple tap-in is not a simple tap-in. The putter is oscillating all over the place and the ball is oscillating, and you know you have to make an adjustment. At least I was on my downswing and my putts, because the putter is being blown all over the place.
"Your start lines, holy cow, we are starting balls so far off line (on tee shots) to have it come back in. There's so much drift to this wind. It was just a tough day."
As winds whipped to 35 mph on the seaside course, Woods, who had 12 one-putt greens in his first-round 69, needed only one putt on five of his first seven holes in the second round to take the outright lead.
Solid ball-striking kept him near the top of the leaderboard after a bogey on the eighth hole as he made a birdie from 5 feet on the tough 12th hole and made pars amid the brutal stretch of holes 13, 14 and 15.
From there it was a struggle for Woods.
Woods blasted his eagle putt from just short of the 16th green well past the hole, off the green and into a collection area. He was able to get up-and-down to save par. On the next hole, he left his long birdie putt 10 feet short but canned the par putt.
On the final hole, using a 3-wood, Woods hit his tee shot off the grandstands to the left of the fairway of the 501-yard 18th. He struck a mid-iron to the middle of the green but then three-putted from 25 feet and made bogey, missing a 3-footer for par.
"I just grinded my way around this golf course," Woods said. "It's a golf course in which it's a seaside, linksy-type course, but you've got to throw the ball up in the air. With this wind and the way it's blowing and the way it's moving the golf ball, it's tough.
"But I'm very pleased. I'm very pleased to be able to shoot under par today. That was the goal, anything par or better today was going to be a great score, and I was able to accomplish that. I'm swinging it well. The thing is, all year my strength has been my driving, actually. People probably don't think that. I've been driving the ball well all year, and I've been putting streaky all year."
Woods held a share of the 36-hole lead in the U.S. Open before faltering on the weekend and falling to a tie for 21st. In last month's British Open, he couldn't make a move in the final round and finished in a tie for third.
"I've been in this position many times over my career, and again we are just at the halfway point," Woods said. "We have a long way to go. I don't know the forecast; I haven't looked at the forecast for tomorrow. But if it's anything like it was today, it's going to be tough."
The forecast doesn't let up for the next two days, either. There's a 40% chance of thunderstorms and winds reaching 20 mph Saturday and a 30% chance of thunderstorms and winds reaching 15 mph Sunday.