By: AFP/ Reuters
Former world number one Tiger Woods missed the cut at the PGA Championship, firing his second consecutive three-over-par 74 at Valhalla Golf Club here. Woods finished on six-over 148 for 36 holes on Friday, five back of the projected cut with too many people in the clubhouse ahead of him to have any chance at qualifying for the final two rounds.
The round ends a week of drama about the health of Woods, who withdrew from the final round at last week’s World Golf Championships event in Akron, Ohio, with a back injury. Woods, a 14-time major champion chasing the all-time record of 18 majors won by Jack Nicklaus, spent two days in Florida receiving treatment and evaluation, in doubt for the year’s final major tournament.
It was not until Wednesday afternoon that Woods arrived at Valhalla, played a nine-hole practice round and declared himself fit to play, saying his recent back issue had no connection to the back surgery he underwent March 31 to ease pressure on a pinched nerve. But Woods struggled on day one and by Friday afternoon was in a fight to make the cut.
Woods took a bogey at the fourth after finding a fairway bunker and sent tee shots way left on his way to a double bogey at the sixth and bogey at seventh, leaving him seven-over for the event and six strokes off the cut line. It was after his second shot at the par-5 seventh that Woods grimaced moments after hitting the ball, a sign that his back issues had returned. But Woods ran off seven pars in a row until making a 10-foot birdie putt at 15, going 25 holes between birdies for the event. He took a bogey at 16 but finished with a six-foot birdie at 18.
He failed to qualify for the US Ryder Cup squad that will face holders Europe next month, although American captain Tom Watson said he would select Woods with a captain’s pick if Woods were healthy.
He is almost certain to miss the season-ending US PGA playoffs as well, which could mean six weeks without competition heading into the trophy showdown at Gleneagles in Scotland.
Rory retains lead
While Woods struggled, Rory McIlroy, helped by a spectacular eagle on his ninth hole of the day, soared into a two-shot clubhouse lead in the weather-delayed second round. The British Open champion, in pursuit of a third consecutive victory on the PGA Tour, fired a four-under-par 67 on a wet, ultra-long Valhalla layout where play was suspended for 45 minutes earlier in the day due to water-logged conditions.
McIlroy, the pre-tournament favourite heading into the year’s final major, holed out for eagle from 30 feet in front of the green at the par-five 18th and also recorded four birdies and two bogeys to post a nine-under total of 133. He squandered a golden opportunity to add another eagle at the par-five seventh, where he hit a stunning second shot from 243 yards to just eight feet before missing the putt, but signed off with a birdie at the ninth where he drained a 16-footer.
That left three-times major winner McIlroy two strokes in front of American Ryan Palmer, who birdied his last two holes for a 70 after teeing off in the first group of the day in heavy, driving rain. “I wasn’t sure we should have teed off when we did,” said Palmer. “I could barely see the fairway on one. Fairways are not rolling at all. You are going to need a lot of mid to long-irons. Even par is a good round today, so it’s nice to get under par.”
England’s former world number one Lee Westwood and American Kevin Chappell, who had been tied for the overnight lead with Palmer after opening with 65s, were both at six under after completing just one hole in the second round.
Rose makes early splash
Early starters faced receptive, rain-softened conditions in the PGA Championship third round Saturday and former US Open champion Justin Rose was among those who took advantage.
The English world number five, who made the cut by just one shot, birdied four of the first seven holes to reach the turn in four-under-par 31 on a damp, muggy and overcast day at Valhalla Golf Club. Wielding a red-hot putter, Rose drained 30-footers at the first and third before driving the green at the par-four fourth and two-putting for his third birdie of the day. Rose, who won his first major title at last year’s U S Open, then sank a 16-foot birdie putt at the par-four 13th to get to five under for the tournament, four strokes behind leader Rory McIlroy.
Anirban Lahiri gave it all, but it was not enough to keep him for the weekend as he missed the cut by a fair margin. Lahiri added a second round 73 to the 72 he had on Thursday to get to three-over 145, but the cut was likely at even or one-over at the damp Valhalla Golf Club. Lahiri admitted making far too many mistakes and was clearly rusty.
“That’s no excuse. Yes, I have not been 100 per cent but even then I should have played much better. Five bogeys in a round is way too many,” he added. (PTI)