Former world No.1s and fierce rivals Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh have pushed into a tie for the lead after the second round of the US PGA Championship in South Carolina.
In extremely windy conditions, Woods fired a one-under par 71 to move to four-under for the tournament, joining Singh (69) and overnight leader Carl Pettersson who fell back after a 74.
Singh’s three under gem was all the more impressive given the field averaged 78 on a brutal day on the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island.
Englishman Ian Poulter was fourth alone at three-under with Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy a shot back.
Australian’s Adam Scott and Aaron Baddeley both shot 75 on Friday but are just three shots off the pace in a tie for seventh and well within striking range.
Woods started the day three back and went on a putting hot-run over the first nine holes, one-putting seven out of nine greens to make two birdies and several clutch pars.
His flatstick wasn’t as cooperative on the back nine but in his quest to reclaim the world No.1 ranking and grab a 15th major championship, Woods had just two blemishes in the entire round.
He took a bogey on the par-three eighth and a three-putt on the final hole to give up the outright lead.
“It was tough out there. Wow!” Woods said.
“It was fun but it was tough.
“I just grinded my way around the this golf course.”
Starting the day two off the lead, the Australian pair battled the conditions but limited the damage enough to be in the mix.
Scott started on the 10th hole, hitting into the teeth of the wind, and struck his first speed bump three holes in.
He carded back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 but having turned downwind, the Queenslander started a rollercoaster run of holes at the par-five 16th.
He gained a shot back after a magical sand shot but lost it again on the 18th with a short par-putt miss.
Scott rolled in an eight-foot birdie on the first, kept the momentum with a clutch 12-foot par save on the second but couldn’t repeat from 10 feet at the third and carded his fourth bogey of the day.
Further bogeys on seven and nine dropped him back in the pack.
“It’s very tough. I think I played pretty well. I could have saved a couple shots but it’s very easy to let shots slip out on this golf course,” Scott said.
“So I consider 75 kind of a par round of golf out there today. It’s really very tough.”
Baddeley was also left to rue a late stumble.
With just the one birdie and four bogeys through his opening 15 holes Baddeley was hanging on and the Victorian shot back amongst it with back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17.
But a costly double bogey on the last ensured he’d join Scott three off the pace.
Marc Leishman (+2), Greg Chalmers (+2), Geoff Ogilvy (+2), John Senden (+3) and Marcus Fraser (+5) all made it to the weekend while Robert Allenby (+7), Jason Day (+8) and Brendan Jones (+10) joined big names Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Webb Simpson, Sergio Garcia and world no.1 Luke Donald in missing the cut.