Can they catch Tiger at Hazeltine?
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2009 US PGA Championship | Round Two | 15 Aug 2009
They chased and challenged but at the end of day two of the 2009 PGA Championship, Tiger Woods’ rivals could not get closer than four shots and the world number one had extended his lead in his chase for his 15th major title. Is it now a matter of by how far he will win?
Woods’ superb round of 70 in the trying afternoon conditions stretched his overnight one shot lead to four as the challengers came and went. Ross Fisher, Padraig Harrington and Alvaro Quiros all had a share of the lead at various stages but none could get past Woods, who bogeyed his opening hole but was back on track with birdies at the 6th and 7th.
A lengthy par saving putt at the 12th kept Woods in the lead and when he hit a brilliant fairway wood just off the back edge of the reachable par four 14th and got up and down for birdie, he had moved ahead. He then nearly holed his chip from behind the green for eagle at the 15th and then holed from 16 feet at the 16th to move to eight under.
He had separated himself from the field, putting a four shot gap between himself and Harrington and Lee Westwood who had fought his way back after slipping to even par through 8 holes.
A bogey from the middle of the fairway at the last gave his opponents a look in but Woods’ nearest rivals at that point, Harrington and Westwood would make mistakes of their own almost immediately. Harrington, who was playing with Woods, had also missed the green right and like Woods was unable to get up and down. Westwood double bogeyed the 17th after missing the green and then three putting from five feet.
As he walked from the 18th green Woods, at 7 under par, was four ahead of Harrington and Fisher and the early finishers on day two, Brendan Jones, US Open Champion Lucas Glover and Vijay Singh.
Westwood and Ian Poulter are at 2 under and share 7th position.
Despite his lead it had been a tough day and Woods knew it.
“It was a lot tougher today. The wind was not only blowing; it was changing directions; it was gusty. It was just hard to decide what it was doing, and then once you hit the shot, it could change. It was affecting putts a lot. The greens were bumpy. It was just a tough day all around.”
Woods is also aware of the dangers of getting ahead of himself.
“Just because I’m 12-for-12 doesn’t mean anything tomorrow. You’ve got to go out there and play those shots, those things I did 12 times doesn’t do a damn bit of good tomorrow. You have to place your golf ball around the golf course, you’ve got to play and execute and tomorrow is supposed to be just as windy, so again, another day of executing and being very patient.”
Harrington was disappointed with his finish after fighting his way back following a mid-round crisis.
“I’m a little bit disappointed with the finish. You know, it was always going to be a tough day. I struggled in the middle of the round a little bit. I hit a careless shot on the 11th hole and then went into the tough holes and made three bogeys in a row and struggled a bit.”
“I was happy to then make a couple of birdies. I was pushing hard to make another birdie coming home and was a little disappointed, one, that my chip shot ran by an 18 – I thought I chipped it up stone-dead – and then I hit a very awkward putt across the slope and it was disappointing to miss it.”
Jones leads the Australasians and after a consistent season in Japan where he has been second twice including a playoff loss at his last start in Hokkaido by Ryo Ishikawa.
Jones fought back well late in his first round of 71 yesterday but a bogey at the 6th today saw him slip to even par. At the 7th he hit a 7 iron for his second and all but holed his 25 footer for eagle. Then came a series of pars before a 4 wood to the reachable par four 14th to 15 feet set up an eagle chance which he holed.
“I played really well and didn’t do anything silly,” Jones told his website. “The conditions certainly got more difficult the further we went but having played a lot of my early golf in windy conditions on the south coast of NSW I don’t really mind it. You have to use the wind rather than fight it and I tried to do that today although a couple of drives got away on me.”
The next best of the Australasians is Robert Allenby, who followed his promising opening round with 75 today to be at even par and Geoff Ogilvy, neither are out the race for contention just yet.
Nathan Green fought back from his poor start to finish with 75 and at 3 over will play the weekend as will Richard Green, David Smail and Michael Sim who all made the cut on the number of 4 over.