Tiger grabs share of lead at PGA
Vail, CO Colorado
TULSA, Okla. ” Tiger Woods moved into the lead at the PGA Championship on Friday and the rest of the field came closer to reckoning with one of the more intimidating records in golf.
Woods is 7-0 in majors when he heads into the weekend with at least a share of the lead. If he could keep at least a portion of the lead for four more holes at Southern Hills, he would have his chance to make it 8-0.
Woods made seven birdies and a fist-pumping par save from 30 feet as part of a remarkable second round that put him at 5 under for the tournament, tied with 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, who had two holes to go.
Scott Verplank, who shot 66, was in second place at 4-under 136.
Another shot back was Stephen Ames, who shot 69. Three off the lead was Woody Austin, who shot 70.
Ernie Els, Adam Scott and John Daly were all at par, but everyone knows who the favorite is. Another daunting statistic: All six previous major winners at Southern Hills have entered the weekend with at least a share of the lead.
“If I’m one back, I hope it’s not very good,” Verplank said of that statistic. “But if I’m leading, then I hope it holds true.”
Earlier in the week, Tiger said no year, even one like this with four victories, could be considered good if none of the victories were majors. He finished second at the Masters and U.S. Open, 12th at the British and is one more “loss” away from getting shut out of golf’s biggest tournaments for the first time since 2004.
Austin knows not to bet against him.
“When you’re someone in my position who has never won a major, never won one of these big events, you can’t throw away all these opportunities,” he said, lamenting a bunch of missed putts that kept his score from going lower. “I don’t have that luxury. There is somebody that has that luxury but it’s not me.”
That somebody would be Woods, and he certainly wasn’t throwing anything away during this round.
He opened the day at 1-over, but made birdie on the downhill first hole. He got to red numbers with a 25-foot putt on No. 4 that brought a trademark fist pump. He birdied the par-5 fifth, as well, after an amazing shot out of a fairway bunker with a twisting, Arnold Palmer-like follow through, accentuated because he was trying to work the shot left to right and didn’t want to turn over the club face.
His best putt, however, was the 30-foot par save he made on No. 12 after a tough shot onto the green from a fried-egg lie in the sand.
He’ll be the player to watch this weekend and probably won’t have to share the stage with Daly if the 1991 PGA winner doesn’t right his own ship.
Going off the back nine, Daly waited for the green to clear on the 366-yard par-4 10th hole, then gripped it and ripped it.
His shot landed about pin high but well right of the green, just off a cart path and buried in the rough near a medical trailer.
Daly bumped the ball over the green into the edge of the opposite rough, chipped on, then missed a 6-foot par putt, the start of what figured to be a wild day for golf’s favorite high-wire act. He teed off into a bunker on the next hole for a more traditional bogey, then made a string of five straight pars, followed by a birdie-bogey finish on 17 and 18.
Overall, it was a nice exhibition of stopping the bleeding; nobody would’ve been surprised if he’d missed the cut after such a bad start. But he somehow avoided big numbers despite hitting driver all over the course that practically begs big hitters to tone things down.
Verplank, meanwhile, is the anti-Daly ” a straight hitter who hits lots of greens and, when the putter is working, can be very dangerous.
He’s hoping to add this major to his victory earlier this year at the Byron Nelson Championship ” a tournament he considers his personal major because it’s his hometown tournament, named after one of his childhood favorites.
This tournament also felt like a home game for Verplank. Southern Hills is just down the highway from where he starred in college, Oklahoma State, and he heard plenty of “Go Pokes,” as he walked the fairways.
“I’m in my own world out there, but it’s always nice to know that people are pulling for you,” Verplank said.
The way things were shaping up, he was in line to be playing second fiddle to Woods for the weekend. If so, Verplank certainly won’t be alone.