PGA Championship 2012: Tiger Woods shares lead heading into weekend

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Six players were atop the leaderboard on this day of survival. Singh was the first to post at 4-under 140, and it didn’t look as though anyone would be able to even match that as the wind never let up on The Ocean Course.

Pettersson stayed in the lead as long as he could until a few errant tee shots cost him at the end of his round and he had to settle for a 74. Woods, playing on the opposite side of the course, showed early on that he figured out something with his putter.

Along with birdie putts of 15 feet and 40 feet on the opening four holes, there was a collection of big par saves — from 20 feet on the third hole, a pair of 8-foot par putts a few holes later. There were even two short par putts that swirled 360 degrees around the cup and dropped.

The only disappointment was the way it ended. After hooking a tee shot that rattled around the corporate tents and allowed him a shot into the 18th, he ran his birdie putt about 6 feet by the hole and three-putted for bogey.

It cost him his first outright lead in a major in three years, but this was not a day to complain.

“It was fun, but it also was tough,” Woods said. “You were getting blown all over the place. It was just a very difficult day.”

Poulter was tied for the lead until a bogey on his last hole, though he showed again that he can thrive in windy, demanding conditions. The last time he was in serious contention at wind-swept Royal Birkdale in 2008, when he was runner-up to Padraig Harrington.

“The golf shots this golf course asks you to hit time and time and time and time again … you really have to hit phenomenal golf shots,” Poulter said. “The room for error is so tiny, and when you get it wrong, you can be 15 feet below the level of the green in a bad lie with not much of a shot.”

The course played so difficult that the afternoon groups were delayed 20 minutes, and one player failed to finish — Joost Luiten of the Netherlands, who was 1 over for the tournament and will return Saturday morning to complete his round. The scoring average was 78.11. The previous record for the PGA Championship was 76.8 in the opening round at Llanerch Country Club in 1958.

Singh stood tall in the wind, however, even as he kept his head down.

“After a while, you don’t really think about your score,” said Singh, whose last major victory was at the 2004 PGA on the first visit to Whistling Straits. “You just think about each hole, each shot and just try not to mess up. It was one of my better rounds. I didn’t strike the ball as good, but I scored really, really well. And I think that was the key.”

There were 44 players under par after the opening day. Going into the weekend, there were only 10.

McIlroy didn’t make a birdie until his 14th hole — a tough par 3 that he has birdied both rounds — and had a 75. He was at 2-under 142, along with Jamie Donaldson of Wales, who had a 73 and was thrilled after his morning round. “That’s the best I can do,” he said.

Scott also had a 75 to join the group at 143 that included Aaron Baddeley (75), Blake Adams (72) and former Masters champion Trevor Immelman (72).

“I thought 2 over today was like shooting 2 under yesterday,” Pettersson said. “I hit some squirrely shots, which is typical when it’s blowing 30 mph. But I hit some really good ones, too.”

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