PGA Championship: Kiawah Shows It's Teeth on Day Two

Kevin Casey@kevincasey19Contributor IAugust 11, 2012

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC - AUGUST 10:  Keegan Bradley of the United States hits off the sixth tee during Round Two of the 94th PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on August 10, 2012 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

On the first day of the 2012 PGA Championship, some had to question Kiawah Island's fierce reputation.

The Ocean Course, which had brought many a player to his knees during the 1991 Ryder Cup and ranked No. 1 in Golf Digest's toughest courses in America, was, in fact, a ballpark for birdies on Thursday.

Under perfectly calm conditions, a whopping 42 players finished the day in red figures and a Dutchman named Joost Luiten got all the way out to 8 under par at one point (and within striking distance of that ever-elusive major championship 62), before limping to the finish.

However, on a track flanked by the Atlantic, the wind can't stay dormant for long, and when it picked up on Friday, the Ocean Course lived up to the hype.

A day after circles lined many players' scorecards, only five souls managed to break par in blustery conditions, and at a measly 3-under-par 69, Vijay Singh put up the round of the day.

Indeed, on Friday the scoring average soared to 78, making Singh's round reminiscent of the 66 Paul Casey put up during the second round of the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont where the day's scores averaged out at around 76.

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Brit Michael Hoey put together a 70 and three world-class players, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter, came in at 71, but they were the exception in a day characterized by the victims.

First-round standouts who waltzed their way around the 7676-yard layout like it was a Tuesday night stroll on a local muni, dropped like flies on day two.

Rory McIlroy posted a 75, as did Adam Scott. Graeme McDowell struggled to a 76, and long-bombers Keegan Bradley and John Daly faltered to 77.

Yet, they weren't even the ones to feel Kiawah's worst bite.

Gary Woodland, who briefly held the outright lead at 6 under par early in round two, proceeded to play a six-hole stretch at seven over par, and collapsed to a Friday 79.

Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson could only match that number, as their hopes likely blew away in the brisk ocean breeze.

Still, others fared worse.

Rickie Fowler, who probably should've been working on his game rather than jumping into swimming pools, shot 80 and missed the cut badly. Nick Watney and Matt Kuchar couldn't do better than 82 and the aforementioned Paul Casey signed his card for an 85.

In fact, if it weren't for the wide fairways and soft greens, a viewer might have mistaken today's play for that of a U.S. Open (I cringe at the thought of the USGA ever getting their hands on this course).

So for those who expected the shootout that has been common at the PGA over the years, the Ocean Course served notice on Friday.

While 42 players breaking par in round one was surprising, this was astonishing: 41 failed to break 80 in round two.

That's right, more than a quarter of the field couldn't even stay in the 70s, and two competitors even failed to break 90.

Overall, Kiawah is as tough as advertised. Of the 42 who started the day in red numbers, only 10 remain and expect that number to continue to dwindle with winds (and possible rain) in the forecast over the next two days.

It took 18 holes for it to show, but the Ocean Course can make even the best in the game look downright foolish.

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