PGA Championship: Fleetwood finds groove, Woods struggles simply to make cut

Tiger Woods, who got under par on Day 1 of the PGA Championship, ended up in a battle simply to make the cut in the second round.

Tiger Woods watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at TPC Harding Park.   -  AP

After Friday’s barrage of misreads, short misses and rim-outs on greens he could not figure out, Tiger Woods might want to go back to his old putter. And find a new sand wedge while he’s at it.

Woods, who got under par on Day 1 of the PGA Championship by swapping his usual putter for one that was a little longer, ended up in a battle simply to make the cut in the second round. He shot 2-over 72 to finish at even par at the midway point at Harding Park. He is eight shots behind leader Haotong Li.

Most of the problems had to do with his putting.

"I really struggled with getting the speed of the greens today," he said. They looked faster than what they were putting. They were firm coming into the greens, but they weren’t putting as fast as they looked. And then as the day wore on, they got a little more fuzzy and got even slower.

On Day 1, he made 141 feet worth of putts. On Day 2, the grand total was 52 feet, and that was with the help of 12 footer on No. 16 that looked more like 50 considering the way the rest of the round had gone.

The rough putting day contributed to an 0-for-5 performance in the sand-save category, which brought him to 0 for 7 for the tournament.

A day that began with legitimate thoughts of Woods capturing his 16th major ended with him needing to play the last three holes at even par or better simply to make the cut.

He did, but there are eight shots and more than three dozen players separating himself and Li. An improbable gap to make up under the best of circumstances. Impossible if he keeps putting like that.

"You give it a run, but it’s just not rolling out," Woods said.

He complained that the practice green has been rolling faster than the greens on the course all week.

Sure enough, the trouble started right away. On the first hole, he lined up an 8-footer, expecting it to move slightly to the right as it approached the hole. It stayed dead straight. It was the first of five misses from 12 feet and closer on the day.

He needed 17 putts over the front nine, and made the turn in 2-over 37. At that point, he hadn’t made a putt longer than 3 feet.

His sand wedge was no help. In two days, he hasn’t left himself closer than 7 feet out of any of the seven greenside bunkers he’s found.

But when asked if he thought he could still win this tournament, Woods responded as expected: "Yeah," he said.

He was happy with his driver. He hit nine fairways, which was three more than the day before. But for the second straight day, he could not make both things work at the same time.

Woods said he was trying a different putter this week so he didn’t have to bend over as much to make the stroke — another small way of alleviating pressure on his surgically repaired back.

It will be interesting to see if he sticks with the same flat stick for the weekend. Either way, maybe the best thing he’s got going for him Saturday is an early tee time.

"Hopefully I can get it going, drive the ball like I did today, hit my irons a little bit more crisp,” Woods said, and be a little bit more aggressive on the putts.

Fleetwood finds groove

Tommy Fleetwood delayed restarting his season after the COVID-19 outbreak for logistical purposes and the lack of competitive rounds as a result have done no harm as the Englishman soared up the Championship leaderboard on Friday.

Fleetwood, who only returned to competition on the PGA Tour two weeks ago, fired a superb six-under-par 64 in the second round at TPC Harding Park to put him firmly in striking distance as he chases a maiden major title this weekend.

Tringale disqualified

Cameron Tringale was disqualified from the Championship for signing a score lower than what he actually made on the par-three eighth hole, tournament officials said.

The American signed for 2-under 68 for his second round at TPC Harding Park, putting him at one-over par for the tournament and close to the projected cut line.

After his scorecard was officially certified, he left the scoring area but returned to notify the referee of his error.

He was disqualified since the error improved his score.

Had he signed for a higher score, that score would have stood and he would have been allowed to continue playing this weekend, provided he made the cut.

It was unclear what his actual score was on Friday.

Li surprised by resurgence

Li Haotong did not think he had any chance of being a contender but on Friday he came out of nowhere with a bogey-free second round and suddenly has an opportunity to become the first Chinese man to win a major.

Li, who is 114th in the world rankings, birdied five of his first 10 holes at TPC Harding Park en route to a five-under-par 65 that moved him to a total of eight-under and left him at a loss for words to explain how he did it.

“I didn't even think I could play like this this week ... got no confidence,” said Li, who only hit four of 14 fairways during his round.