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Tiger Woods goes low but will need to dig deep at PGA Championship

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Golfweek’s Geoff Shackelford describes how the rain has affected the greens and what tactics players should use for success.
USA TODAY

ST. LOUIS — Just as Tiger Woods stepped to the first tee Friday a bit before 2 p.m. local time to begin his second round in the PGA Championship, weather warning signs popped up around Bellerive Country Club.

Another cloud on Tiger’s horizon was the scoreboard — he was 10 shots behind leader Gary Woodland.

But against that backdrop, Tiger provided his own lightning to the thunderous approval of galleries that were so immense you had to wonder if all of St. Louis was in attendance.

Knowing he needed to go low, Woods did just that as he rammed home a birdie putt from 14 feet on the second hole, then stuck his approach with a pitching wedge on the third hole to 3 feet for another birdie.

It was a 180 from his start on Thursday, when he bogeyed his first hole, then made double on his second and looked defeated. He rebounded by going 3 under his last 10 holes, finishing with an even-par 70.

More: PGA Championship scoring record was in danger at Bellerive

More: Heavy rains halt second-round play, could help golfers Saturday

The momentum continued Friday as Tiger had pep in his step. He nearly produced magic on the fourth by coming within an eyelash of chipping in for birdie from 25 feet. Briefly angered but undaunted, he made his third birdie on the fifth hole from 10 feet.

Tiger was in full flight, and that is something to behold.

Even when Woods was in trouble, he thrilled the crowds and kept his card clean. On the sixth hole, he canned a 14-footer for par, then nearly chipped in again for birdie, this time from 17 feet on the seventh.

Tiger was humming and the crowds were roaring.

Then the skies opened up. And the clouds wouldn’t go away.

The only thing that got in Tiger’s way were storms that eventually suspended play for the day. The second round will restart at 7 a.m. CT Saturday, with the third round beginning 30 minutes after the conclusion of the second.

That means Tiger will put his fused back to the supreme test on Saturday. With expected temps reaching into the 90s, and with Tiger likely making the cut, he could play 28½ holes.

“I felt I was headed in the right direction,” Woods said shortly after play was suspended. “Tomorrow is going to be a long day for a lot of us.”

But there’s some good news.

“We’re going to have the greens prepared before we go back out there to finish up our second round,” Woods said. “It would have been quite a bit different if we had to go back out this afternoon and finish it up. But the greens will be freshly cut, so it will be just like it was when we played on Thursday.”

But challenges remain. Woods needs to regain his momentum starting in the middle of the fairway on the eighth hole, where he’ll have a wedge into the green for his third shot on the par 5 when play resumes.

He stands seven behind Woodland, who is at the top of a stacked leaderboard that also features Kevin Kisner at 9 under, two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka at 8 under and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson at 7 under.

Woods will be looking to peck away at that deficit as he searches for his fifth Wanamaker Trophy and 15th major. He’s in position to do it. Now he just needs to recapture the lightning and thunder he produced Friday.

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