Blustery conditions shook up a leaderboard that started the day with Carl Petterson in the lead and ended with Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson tied at -4, one stroke ahead of Ian Poulter. Rory McIlroy and Jamie Donaldson of Wales, who plays on the European Tour, are both at -2.
While winds are usually calm along the southeast coast during the dog days of August, a tropical system that migrated up from Florida continued wreaked havoc on play at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island on Friday. Carnage was everywhere.
Only five golfers were under par for Round 2, and one of them Phil Mickelson, who finished tied for 12th at even par. The others under par for the day were Woods, Singh, Ian Poulter and Michael Hoey.
“The tough part is you are getting blown all over the place,” Woods said after he finished. “You have to allow for wind on putts and chips.”
Woods had just 48 putts through the first two rounds. Had his putting stroke been a bit more consistent, he might have had a two-, three- or four-shot cushion on the field. He bogeyed the last with a three putt.
On the 16th, his eagle putt from the fringe exploded in his hands and sailed all the way across the green to end up in a collection area. However, he had two putts during the round that went at least 360 degrees around the hole and then dropped in.
The wind was torturous. “Most every hole is a direct crosswind,” Mickelson said, “and you're not able to really play the ball on the ground here. You have to play it through the air, because the greens all repel off. You can't really roll a shot up.”
At the end of the day, shots hit at the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th sometimes ended up in the water. Keegan Bradley was a victim there. Pettersson felt he held his own.
“I was glad I started on the back to kind of get those out of the way,” Pettersson said, adding that he was two‑over from the 10th through the 14th. “I thought that was probably playing even par.”
Singh, who finished early in the day, said, “If I'm within four shots or so heading into the weekend, that's a really good position where I can actually feel my game get better as the week's gone on.” Singh could become the oldest golfer to win the PGA Championship. Julius Boros won the PGA when he was 48. Singh turned 49 earlier in the year.
Rory McIlroy is within striking distance.
“It could have been a couple shots better, of course, but I limited the damage as much as I could,” he said. “You can't get aggressive with this weather. You don't even care where the pin is, you just try to hit it on the green somewhere.” He expected another tough day on Saturday.
Jamie Donaldson of Wales added his two cents: “You think you have a chance towards the end where it's blowing downwind, but the wind was so strong, you just couldn't get near flags or greens,” he explained. “Just a brutal test of golf.”
Now the question is, what will the third round bring? Most likely it will be a shaking out to determine who is on this week and who is not. Golfers within eight or 10 shots of the lead still have a chance to win, depending on conditions and how well they play.
If the weather is similar to either day one or day two, the leaders will have the worst of the wind. Those with early tee times may be able to make up shots on Saturday and watch the leaders tumble from the comfort of the clubhouse. That may provide another Sunday where the overnight leader does not win.
As if to prove the point, Tiger Woods warned, “On a Pete dye golf course there’s no where to go. It’s not hard to make doubles and triples here.”
Interestingly, one who did not think the wind was as intense as past British Opens was that newly minted champ, Ernie Els. At +3 he is a distant T-37, but has not given up hope.
“I'd like it more if I was making frigging putts. But I like it,” Els said about the course. “I'm hitting it as good as I did at Lytham. Great layout. I think Pete Dye is a genius. Some really difficult holes on the back nine. The front nine is the scoring nine.”
Course Stats: The cut was at +7, which is more like a U.S. Open number than a PGA Championship number. Through two rounds the 13th hole played toughest with 76 bogeys and 26 doubles. The 16th and the second were the easiest, with 99 birdies each. Both are par fives which played downwind. The average score of the field for the second round was 78. There were two scores in the 90s.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.