Kiawah toughens up for Friday's second round
KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. –This is what the PGA Championship came to remote Kiawah Island for. One day after the season’s final major played more like the John Deere Classic, the wind blew in off of the Atlantica and showed the Ocean Course’s true colors.
High winds and occasional rain challenged players throughout Friday’s second round. “On a day like this, if you’re off your game it’s painful,” said Wales’ Jamie Donaldson. He got to see first-hand, as his playing partner, Doug Wade, shot 93.
Donaldson scrambled to 73, and at 142 was just two strokes back of Vijay Singh, the leader among those in the morning wave with a score of 140 (71-69). “Nobody is used to winds like this,” said Singh, who won the 2004 PGA Championship at another Dye design, Whistling Straits. “If I had to go out there and play again, I don’t know what I’m going to shoot.”
Fortunately for him, he doesn’t have to go back out there. Half the field does, though. Friday’s afternoon wave looks like it will have to deal with the same winds and possibly some rain.
Adam Scott shot 75 Friday, but felt like that was a level-par round. At 1-under 143, he’ll be in contention heading to the weekend, giving himself a chance to make amends for the Open Championship. “It’s just a hard golf course because it doesn’t really invite you to play many low shots in the wind,” Scott said. “So you’ve got to put your ball up in the air and rely on the wind doing its job.”
It wasn’t just the club pros who struggled Friday. Matt Kuchar shot 82. Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan, both of whom were trying to earn Ryder Cup roster spots this week, each shot 80. Luke Donald, the world’s No. 1 player, shot 76. All were likely to miss the cut.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano’s 78 was 11 shots higher than his opening round. Alex Noren, who shot a first-round 67, played his final five holes Friday in 1 under par...to shoot 80. Justin Rose went 69-79. Graeme McDowell, who seems to embrace tougher conditions, followed his first-round 68 with a 76.
“I’m trying to think of the last time I remember a golf course playing this difficult,” McDowell said, “because it’s a links wind, blowing across a golf course which is super soft, with some of the most difficult pins on the course out there.
Just hitting greens in regulation, especially on downwind holes, was something of an accomplishment, said Donaldson, winner of this year’s Irish Open at the famed links of Royal Portrush. He called it “borderline” whether play should have continued. Balls oscillated on greens, and the nearby Atlantic Ocean churned white one day after calm conditions made for an enjoyable day on the coast for most of the field.
Donaldson hit a 6-iron 240 yards, 50 yards farther than normal, over the green on the par-3 17th. He hit driver, 4-iron to the green on the par-5 16th one day after a driver and 6-iron left him with a 100-yard third shot. On the par-4 15th, he hit sand wedge to the green one day after needing a 7-iron to reach the putting surface.
“The whole thing is very difficult, and frustrating at times,” Donaldson said. “It’s just a brutal test. It was a very, very difficult day of golf.”