Woods cruises clear at Hazeltine
Tiger Woods saw off challenges from Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher to take control of the US PGA on Friday.
Tiger Woods saw off challenges from Padraig Harrington and Ross Fisher to take control of the US PGA Championship heading into the weekend at Hazeltine National Golf Club.
Woods sank three birdies in a row on the back nine of his second round but closed with a bogey en route to a two-under-par 70.
The world number one now leads the field by four shots having once again won his duel with defending champion Harrington, who suffered three bogeys in a row on his back nine and also bogeyed the last for a one-over 73.
England’s Fisher had made it a three-way battle in the Minnesota heat but faded with a bogey, bogey finish for a 68 at three under alongside Ireland’s Harrington, Fiji’s two-time winner Vijay Singh (72), US Open champion Lucas Glover (70) and Australian Brendan Jones (70).
England’s Lee Westwood had got to four under after a 12-foot birdie putt at the 15th but a double bogey at the 17th sent him to a 72, two under for the tournament.
Woods has won all eight majors he has led at the halfway stage and with a four-shot lead the odds are shortening on a 15th major victory of his career to move closer to Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18.
Asked if he was now in a position to run away from the field over the final two rounds, Woods replied: “I don’t know, there’s a long way to go, 36 holes. I’ll just keep plodding along.
“That’s what I did today, I got off to a poor start but I just hung in there and that’s what I’ll do tomorrow and we’ll see what happens.
“It was a tough day out there, the wind was blustery, the greens were bumpy and it was a little bumpy all round.”
Woods had held a one-shot overnight lead over Harrington having shot an opening five-under-par 67 at the 7,674-yard Minnesota course, with Singh a further stroke behind at three under in a group tied for third.
A morning level-par round of 72 by the Fijian in favourable conditions left Woods still in charge as they began in the later wave of starters with the wind picking up considerably.
Woods and Harrington were trading blows for the third day in a row, the American having prevailed on the last day of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and the first day at Hazeltine.
Three-time major winner Harrington, though, was quickly back on level terms on Friday as the four-time US PGA champion bogeyed the first.
Graeme McDowell and Alvaro Quiros both joined the lead at four under as Harrington dropped a shot, bogeying the first par-five of the day, the 633-yard third, before rebounding with a birdie two at the fourth.
Both Northern Irishman McDowell and Spaniard Quiros faded while Woods moved back into the outright lead with a 15-foot birdie putt at the sixth.
Harrington birdied the ninth to close the lead on Woods, who then fell back into a tie with the Irishman at five under after leaving his approach shot at the 10th short on the lower tier of the green, from where he three-putted.
England’s Fisher had started well, getting to two under after he birdied three of his first four holes to go out in 33 and he added three more at the 13th, 14th and 16th to get to five under and into a tie with Woods, only to fall off with his poor finish.
“In some ways I’m disappointed, but overall delighted,” was Fisher’s verdict.
“I felt like I hit the ball fantastically well today.
“At the same time, to finish bogey, bogey always leaves a little bit of a sour taste. But I’m still in there with a good shout with 36 to go.”
Harrington’s three bogeys in a row left him at two under but he staged a rally that began with a birdie at the 14th and when they got to the 642-yard par-five 15th, the Irishman sent in a magnificent three-wood approach shot from a fairway bunker 300 yards out to within 15 feet of the hole.
Woods was relentless, though, his birdie taking him to minus seven while Harrington’s eagle putt agonisingly lipped out and his birdie kept him three shots back but in outright second place.
Then came the closing bogeys, Woods retaining his four-shot lead in the process.
England’s Ian Poulter fought his way to a 70, leaving him on two under at the halfway stage of the tournament, with Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy on level par after a 73, McDowell and Quiros both falling away dramatically to finish at one over after a 75 and 76 respectively.
South African duo Ernie Els and Tim Clark both shot the day’s low score of four-under 68 among the early wave. Els moved to one under par, Clark to level par.
World number two Phil Mickelson shot a second consecutive 74, his four-over-par total enough to make the halfway cut.
Safe, too, on four over, were Scotland’s Alastair Forsyth, who shot a second-round 75, and Luke Donald of England, who added a 77 to his opening 71.
European 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie shot a 78 to finish at nine over for the tournament, his American rival Corey Pavin getting into the weekend at level par following a 71.
All the second round scores & totals in the US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP, Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota, United States of America.
(USA unless stated, par 72):
137 Tiger Woods 67 70
141 Vijay Singh (Fij) 69 72, Ross Fisher (Eng) 73 68, Lucas Glover 71 70, Brendan Jones (Aus) 71 70, Padraig Harrington (Irl) 68 73
142 Ian Poulter (Eng) 72 70, Lee Westwood (Eng) 70 72
143 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 73, Ernie Els (Rsa) 75 68, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 73 70, Y.E. Yang (Kor) 73 70
144 Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 74 70, John Merrick 72 72, David Toms 69 75, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 71 73, John Mallinger 73 71, Hunter Mahan 69 75, Kenny Perry 74 70, Grant Sturgeon 73 71, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 71 73, Robert Allenby (Aus) 69 75, Corey Pavin 73 71, Tim Clark (Rsa) 76 68, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 73 71
145 Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 70 75, Ben Curtis 73 72, Kevin Sutherland 73 72, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 69 76, Hiroyuki Fujita (Jpn) 71 74, Dustin Johnson 72 73, Michael Allen 74 71, Ben Crane 70 75, J J Henry 72 73, K J Choi (Kor) 73 72, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 73 72, Stephen Ames (Can) 74 71
146 Jeff Overton 72 74, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 76 70, Oliver Wilson (Eng) 74 72, Woody Austin 73 73, Tom Lehman 72 74, Stewart Cink 73 73, Angel Cabrera (Arg) 76 70, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 70 76, John Rollins 73 73, Camilo Villegas (Col) 73 73
147 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 74 73, Francesco Molinari (Ita) 74 73, Chris Wood (Eng) 74 73, Scott McCarron 75 72, Zach Johnson 74 73, Steve Flesch 74 73, Greg Bisconti 75 72, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 70 77, Chad Campbell 74 73, Nathan Green (Aus) 72 75, Anthony Kim 73 74, Sean O’Hair 74 73, Rich Beem 71 76, Thomas Levet (Fra) 72 75
148 David Smail (Nzl) 75 73, Soren Hansen (Den) 72 76, Bob Estes 74 74, Justin Leonard 73 75, Boo Weekley 74 74, Alastair Forsyth (Sco) 73 75, Michael Sim (Aus) 73 75, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 77 71, Bob Tway 72 76, Fred Couples 74 74, Phil Mickelson 74 74, Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn) 74 74, Kevin Na 73 75, Charlie Wi (Kor) 72 76, Jim Furyk 73 75, Paul Goydos 70 78, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 75 73, Richard Green (Aus) 75 73, Luke Donald
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