Singh keeps calm amid the havoc
THE BEAST awoke from its slumber, and how. As a stiff wind blew in with a vengeance off the Atlantic, the Ocean Course – a mere pussycat for the opening episode – was transformed. The result, if not carnage, was an examination that proved beyond many as the second round of the 94th USPGA brought some players to their knees, although two-time champion Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson contrived to contradict those who failed to cope.
Singh, with a hugely impressive 69, and Mickelson, who shot 71, were among a handful of players from the early wave who managed to record sub-par rounds. To his immense credit, Michael Hoey – playing on an invite from the PGA of America – was another to do so, his 70 providing an apposite response to an opening 78 for 178, four over, that ensured his survival into the weekend.
Even Mickelson was taken with Singh’s round, which came as winds gusted to 30 miles an hour. The havoc wreaked was evident in some of the other scores. The unfortunate club professional Doug Wade laboured to a 93. At least he finished. Among those to evacuate the property was Kevin Na, who retired in midstream with a shoulder injury, and Scott Verplank (hip injury).
Luke Donald also vacated another Major without a title of his own. The Englishman started his second round with a double-bogey and finished with a bogey which left him signing for a 76 for 150. “One of those weeks,” lamented Donald, who failed to adapt his game from the clam practice days to the different test presented once the wind blew.
As for British Open champion Ernie Els, there was to be no whinging or moaning. “It’s a great layout. I think Pete Dye is a genius,” said the South African, who shot 75 for 147. Some way off the pace, but nevertheless with a ticket into the weekend where, on this course and in these conditions, anything is possible
As Carl Pettersson – the overnight leader – maintained his solid play in the late wave and Tiger Woods used his putter as a saviour to keep his own hopes alive, Rory McIlroy dropped three shots in his opening 10 holes to drop onto the fringes.
But it was Singh who assumed the clubhouse lead with an impressively solid round that consisted of five birdies and two bogeys.
Of Singh’s round, Mickelson remarked: “These conditions here where you don’t have an option to go on the ground, (where) you have to keep it through the air, plays right to his strength. He hits the ball extremely solid and penetrates right through the air and he’s done that his whole career.