Tiger Woods was still on the golf course as darkness settled into eastern Wisconsin on Friday at the 92nd PGA Championship.
Woods completed only six holes of his second round due to the fog in the morning that again delayed the start of action about three hours, just as it did on Thursday.
Tiger sits at (-1) through 24 holes, seven shots out of the lead. The cut could move as the second round unfolds on Saturday morning, but if figures to be in the (+2) range.
So what does Tiger need to do to improve play in rounds three and four and perhaps even contend for a fifth PGA championship?
Based on watching his first 24 holes, here are five things Tiger needs to focus on for to have any shot at contention at Whistling Straits—
1. Continue very good short game
In round one, Tiger hit the ball well tee to green. The short game was strong. Through the first six holes of round two, the short game has literally saved him. Four of six pars have been of the scrambling variety. He seems to have found the putting stroke, and his work around the greens and in the tall stuff has been sensational.
2. Stay focused
The only way a golfer as talented as Tiger Woods can finish a golf tournament 30 shots behind the leader and 18 over par is when that golfer totally loses focus. I won't say they give up, but they know it is futile and nothing is going their way and they want off the golf course.
Tiger can not let this happen to him this weekend. First of all, there is a cut, as was not the case last weekend, so he wouldn't be around for the final two rounds anyway if he is not sharp. Tiger is battling not only his game, but his confidence, something we never thought we'd see from him.
Staying focused also means staying confident.
3. Stay in the fairways
This is no great revelation, of course. Any winner of any given major championship has to be driving the ball accurately through the week, and it is certainly no different at Whistling Straits.
If anything, I'd have to say I'm a bit surprised thus far at most of the players' ability to score okay when they miss the fairways. Scoring seems better than it should be, which is perhaps a result of the early morning fog and the course being a little soft.
It is certainly the greenest looking links course I have ever seen, and I'm not sure the lushness of it is exactly putting all of it's teeth into the players. We'll see as the weekend progresses.
But, its safe to say Tiger, like everyone in the field, better hit more fairways than they miss.
4. Control his emotions
Similar to staying focused and confident, but slightly different.
Tiger has always played with emotions out there. It is part of who he is as a golfer. Asking him to suddenly abandon that would be foolish and certainly detrimental to his game. However, When a golfer is questioning himself and, at times, his swing, he needs all of his attention directed at combating those things.
For now, until his game returns to a level that he is used to, he might want to check the emotions at the first tee.
Ride the highs, but not too much. Overcome the lows.
5. Play to the golf course (If he can figure out what exactly it is this week)
Whistling Straits is long and it can be windy. It can show its teeth much more than it has Thursday and Friday. Tiger knows this. He knows how to play links courses as well as anyone in the field, and he knows how to win on them.
I thought maybe a bit on Friday he forgot this somewhat. Thursday he not only hit the ball well, but made the right decisions, playing to his strengths and weakening the golf course.
Tiger Woods knows how to weaken a golf course as much as anyone in the field. One thing that he might be battling is treating this course like a true links course. It has been hard for everyone in the field to do that so far. Whistling Straits has been stuck in this limbo between true links and modern-day American traditional.
Once the course figures itself out this weekend, one way or the other, the players will be able to adapt themselves. In the meantime, it's every man for himself.