- Associated Press - Friday, August 10, 2012

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — In the 55 years since the PGA Championship switched over to stroke play, there has never been a tougher round than Friday at Kiawah Island.

One score in the 60s, two in the 90s.

Of the 41 players who failed to break 80, nine of them could be found among the top 50 in the world ranking.

Through 11 hours of relentless wind, with gusts up to 30 mph that turned the Atlantic Ocean choppy with white caps, about the one thing that looked vaguely familiar was Tiger Woods making one putt after another. He had a 1-under 71, one of only four rounds under par on the Ocean Course, to share the lead with Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson going into the weekend.

Just like that, the major known as “Glory’s Last Shot” turned into one last chance for Woods to finally win another major.

“I thought going out today, anything even par or better was going to be a good score,” Woods said. “So I went out today and I accomplished that. It was a tough, tough day. It was blowing all day. I don’t think anyone had an advantage.”

Singh turned a remarkable round, the only player to break 70 with five birdies in his round of 69 that gave the 49-year-old Fijian hope that four years without winning could be about to end — at a major championship, no less.

Pettersson also made big putts, most of them for par and even one for bogey, until the mistakes caught up with him. He had a 74.

They were at 4-under 140, and while Woods and Singh are familiar faces, Woods wasn’t just trying to quell the anticipation by saying this major was a long way from being over. Remember, he had a share of the lead at the U.S. Open this summer until rounds of 75-73 plunged him into a tie for 21st.

Twenty players were within five shots of the lead, starting with Ian Poulter one shot back, and including the likes of Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell and even John Daly.

Mickelson and Poulter also had 71. The four rounds under par were the fewest for the opening rounds of the PGA Championship since there were only three sub-par rounds in the second round at Oak Hill in 1980.

There would have been five rounds except for a gutsy display of honesty by Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland.

Some six hours after his round, he reported a violation on himself. Hoey had an embedded lie in a sandy area on the ninth hole, brushed sand away to identify his ball, and then forgot to re-create the original lie by replacing the sand. He notified PGA rules official of his oversight. Because it carries a two-shot penalty, Hoey was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard.

For Woods, the PGA Championship is yet another chance to end four years without a major, and perhaps resume his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 professional majors. Woods won his 14th major in 2008 at the U.S. Open.

“I’ve been in this position many times over my career,” he said. “Again, we’re just at the halfway point. We have a long way to go.”

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