Kiawah, Island, South Carolina -
Tiger Woods birdied two of his first four holes then held on in blustery conditions for a one-under 71 Friday to seize a share of the halfway lead at the 94th PGA Championship.
Woods, who is chasing his first major title since the 2008 US Open, got his round off to a flying start by one-putting three of his first four holes.
He reached a four-under 140 total and shares the lead with two-time PGA Championship winner Vijay Singh (69) and first-round leader Carl Pettersson (74).
“The putts were going in, so I felt good about that,” Woods said. “It was tough out there.”
The Kiawah Island Golf Resort course was playing several shots longer after the wind and rain kicked up, making for often severe playing conditions.
The scoring average was just over 78 - the highest ever in a PGA Championship by more than two strokes.
“It was hard staying steady a couple of times I got blown on my downswing,” Woods said. “The hard part is getting blown all over the place. There is no such thing as easy tap in.”
This is the first time the Ocean Course has hosted a PGA Tour event and at 7,676 yards (meters), it the longest course in major championship history.
Woods said the “sticky” grass on the ocean-side course was very different than usual.
“You can't run the ball up because the grass is too sticky,” he said. “We don't play golf courses like this. It is not a typical PGA Championship venue.”
Singh finished with five birdies and two bogeys as he teed off in the morning when the weather was worst. He won the event in 1998 and 2004 in a playoff at Whistling Straits.
“You know, after a while you don't really think about your score. You just think about each hole, each shot and just try not to mess up,” the 49-year-old said.
“Those two footers are important out here. On 16, 17, 18, it was so hard just standing on the greens trying to make a putt.
“It was one of my better rounds. I didn't strike the ball as good, but I scored really, really well, and I think that was the key.”
Like Woods, Pettersson had a late tee time, which allowed them to stay dry in the afternoon.
Pettersson, who began on the back nine, had a tough start and a shaky finish.
He began with bogeys on two of his first three holes then birdied 16, one and three, before making bogey on three straight beginning at No. 6. He parred the last hole to finish at two-over on the day.
“It was difficult the whole day,” said Pettersson, who was born in Sweden but recently became an American citizen. “I was glad I started on the back to kind of get those out of the way. But overall, I played pretty good.”
Ian Poulter was alone in fourth after shooting a 71 that matched Woods for the low of the day. Jamie Donaldson and Rory McIlroy, the 2010 US Open champion, are tied at two under.
Play was suspended at 8:16 pm (0016 GMT Saturday) with Joost Luiten as the lone player who didn't finish his round. He will return to play the 18th hole early Saturday.
Mother Nature took over on the par-five 579 seventh hole as a squall moved in on the marquee group of Ernie Els, Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson.
The strong winds - blowing in off the ocean - broke umbrellas and forced others to point them sideways into the driving rain.
The wind pushed Els's three-wood tee shot right into the rough, leaving him with 365 yards to go to the front of the green on his second shot.
Despite the challenging conditions, the reigning British Open champion managed to scramble and make par on the hole, finishing the day with a three-over 75.
South Africa's Els is tied for 37th, seven back of the leaders.
“We were on seven, and we got put on the damned clock,” said Els. “A bit of that rain came in, and man, I was just trying to put anything in play, and I took three-wood, and I hit it right.
“I made an unbelievable five on the par-five. But that's when I knew, hey, it's blowing a little bit.”
His playing partner and 2012 US Open champion Simpson shot an even-par 72 and failed to make the cut.
Other notables to miss the cut were Lee Westwood (77), Rickie Fowler (80), Davis Love (79) and Sergio Garcia (75).
Sean O'Hair, Kevin Na and Scott Verplank withdrew with injuries. - Sapa-AFP