KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Tiger Woods has been here twice before – this season.
But he doesn’t have a major championship to show for it.
What is that they say about the third time being the charm?
Woods fired a 1-under 71 on Friday at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course to share the PGA Championship lead at 4 under with Vijay Singh (69) and Carl Pettersson (74).
Woods will play with Singh in the final pairing at 3 p.m. EDT.
Woods played in the final group on Saturday at the U.S. Open only to fire a 5-over 75 to effectively take himself out of the tournament. He was also in contention at the Open Championship, but went 70-73 over the weekend to finish T-3.
The good news? The odds are on his side at the final major of the year: Woods has held or shared the lead at a PGA Championship three times, and went on to win in two of the cases (2000, 2007) and finish second in 2009.
“I’ve been here before. I’ve been in this position many times over my career, and again, we are just at the halfway point,” said Woods, who needed 26 putts (including 11 one-putts) on Friday, a day after an impressive 22.
“I don’t know the forecast, I haven’t looked at the forecast for tomorrow, but if it’s anything like it was today, it’s going to be tough.”
The wind – gusting up to 30 mph at times – seemed to get to Woods early on, striping an iron off the first tee, only to leave his wedge short of the green. Let’s just say he wasn’t too happy with himself after that shot – especially when your second shot of the day makes you “whisper” at yourself. And then he hit a poor chip to about 12 feet past the cup.
But then he drained the putt to save par.
And that was a common story on his front nine, making a 6-footer for birdie on No. 2, a 12-foot par save at No. 3, then a 30-foot bomb at No. 4 that had him pointing at the hole, a great two-putt from 80 feet at No. 6 to save par and a 9-footer for par at No. 7.
He had eight putts in his first seven holes. Not too shabby for a guy that has struggled mightily with his flatstick this season.
“I just grinded my way around this golf course,” said Woods, who hit 10 of 14 fairways but only 9 of 18 greens in regulation.
“. . . the putter was wavering all over the place, and I adjusted on the downswing and got a feel for it and timed it up perfectly and ended up making it.”
Woods pointed to his work with driver to the brightest part of his day, hitting 5 of 8 fairways when using his big club, although a wayward one at No. 18 gave him a run for his money. He’d hit the green from the trampled-down rough, but three-putted from 35 feet for a closing bogey – only his second of the day.
“I’m swinging (the driver) well. The thing is, is that all year my strength has been my driving, actually,” said Woods. “People probably don’t think so, but the stats, that’s what they are. I’ve been driving the ball well all year, and I’ve been putting streaky all year.
“Finally I’ve married the two together, and it’s working out.”
That used to be Woods and the majors – nearly joined at the hip. And this weekend, Woods hopes to reconcile with the Wanaamaker Trophy.