HAVEN, Wis. – Tiger Woods' (search) tee shot faded into the rough on the ninth hole Friday at the PGA Championship (search), and he slammed his club into the tee box. The world's top-ranked player knew he was running out of chances to avoid missing the cut in a major for the first time in his pro career.
Woods had opened with a 75 on Thursday and made a brief early charge in the second round with birdies on his first two holes. But the rally stalled with bogeys at Nos. 5 and 6, dropping him 3 over par for the tournament.
The projected cut was at 1 over and Woods was spraying his driver all over the course. He kept saving pars with his short game, but was still 3 over through 11 holes.
Ernie Els and first-round leader Darren Clarke (search) shared the lead midway through the second round at 9 under.
Els, the runner-up at the Masters and second at the British Open after losing a playoff to American Todd Hamilton, made three birdies but couldn't shake Clarke, who overcame an early double bogey. Briny Baird and Vijah Singh were at 8 under.
Woods opened his second round with back-to-back birdies but the momentum vanished when he reached the par-5 fifth, nicknamed the "Snake.".
Woods, who struggled with his putter in a round of 75 on Thursday, had plenty on the line. At stake are his streak of 331 straight weeks as the world's No. 1 player and his five-year run as the tour's player of the year.
After the two birdies, Woods hit his drive into a deep fairway bunker on the par-4 fourth hole, but blasted his second shot onto the green and made par. But he gave up a shot at No. 5, where me managed to get up and down from the fairway to save bogey.
Earlier, the "Snake" — featuring a pair of 90-degree doglegs on the narrow fairway that lead to the green — also took a bite out of Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson, looking to win his second major of the year, had things going his way until his second shot found the water on the par-5. He put his fourth shot 30 feet from the hole and then 3-putted from there for a double bogey 7.
Mickelson made bogeys at Nos. 7-8, then birdied No. 9 to finish at par-72. As much trouble as the fifth hole gave Mickelson, it was his putter that cost him birdies.
"For an eight-hole stretch my putter didn't seem to cooperate. I just gave away a lot of strokes there," Mickelson said.
Mickelson broke through for his first major title at the Masters. He finished second in the U.S. Open and third in the British Open, putting him in position to become the first player to finish in the top three in all four majors in one year. Mickelson, who opened the PGA with a 69, has shot nine rounds in the 60s at this year's majors.
But his back-nine troubles Friday may have hurt his chances. He pulled two within two shots of Baird before his problems down the stretch Friday. Baird, who went off early Friday, shot a 69 and was at 8 under heading into the weekend.
Baird, yet to win on the PGA Tour, is the latest surprise at the PGA. On Thursday, he matched his best round in a PGA Championship with a 67.
Baird came in having missed the cut in four of his last six tournaments. But he has played consistently well in previous PGA Championships, making the cut each of the last three years. His 67 was his fifth round in the 60s in this tournament.
"I took advantage of the good breaks," Baird said. "Tomorrow, I'm just going to try to keep doing what I've been doing the last couple of days. Keep it away from the bunkers and the tall grass."
Whistling Straits, which surrendered plenty of birdies Thursday, was playing longer Friday. The wind was up and tournament officials put the tees back that had been moved up in anticipation of bad weather that never materialized on Thursday.
"The course is definitely playing a little big tougher today," said Chris Riley after his second-round 70.
"What played really difficult was the length of the course," said Stephen Ames, who had a 71.
On Thursday, the longest course in majors history (7,514 yards) didn't put up much of a fight against the world's best players.
An opening round brimming with anticipation brought real surprises — not the players atop the leaderboard, but the scores next to their names. Clarke, Els, Leonard and a long list of others hammered the links-style course on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Clarke, from Northern Ireland, led the way with a 65. Els and Leonard shot 66s and Vijay Singh 67.