Published August 18, 2006
MEDINAH, Illinois – Davis Love III has a busy weekend ahead of him, exactly the way he likes it at a major championship. Love shot a 3-under 69 at the PGA Championship on Friday, putting him one stroke behind Henrik Stenson and Billy Andrade. Better yet, it guarantees him of playing the weekend after missing the cut at both the U.S. and British opens.
"Who knows what they're going to shoot this afternoon," Love said. "But wherever I am, I'm in good position. Seven-under after two days, I'm excited about the weekend."
After a record 60 players had rounds under par in the first round, it was another day to go low at the Medinah Country Club. Stenson was at 8-under after his second striaght 68, and seventh-alternate Andrade had caught him after 10 holes.
U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy was getting the best of playing partners Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. With four straight birdies, Ogilvy made the turn at 7-under to join Love and Luke Donald.
First-round co-leader Chris Riley (72) held steady at 6-under, and the crowd at 5-under included Woods, who rolled in a 30-footer for a birdie and missed an eagle by about a foot.
Woods also caught a break on his first hole, the par-4 No. 1. His tee shot was hooking badly and appeared headed for trees when a fan reached out and knocked the ball down. It still landed in the rough, but it was in play and Woods saved par.
Mickelson was at 4-under after one of the more impressive recoveries of the day. He pushed his tee shot right and into the trees on No. 6, and his next lie was even worse. Though he was just off the green, he was behind both a bunker and a large tree.
Mickelson skimmed the branches and landed on the green, running it at least 30 feet by the hole. He made the putt and saved par.
"I think by the end of the day, 6-under will probably be fifth or sixth place. Maybe seventh or eighth, depending," Riley said. "It's out there. There's birdies out there, for sure. The greens are still pretty soft."
First-round co-leader Lucas Glover was hoping a good showing here would earn him a spot on the U.S. Ryder Cup team. But he was struggling Friday, losing two shots on the front nine to slip to 4-under.
Love needs a top finish here to earn a spot on the Ryder Cup team. He's been on every team since 1993 — the longest active streak for the Americans — and was fourth in the standings at the start of the year.
But it's been a rocky season, and he came into this week 15th. Fitting, then, that he's been all over the board at Medinah. He had the lead briefly Thursday until a triple bogey on the 17th dropped him back into the pack.
He followed an opening birdie Friday with three straight bogeys. He found sand on the par-4 11th, then three-putted on the par-4 12th. On the par-3 13th, he had a shot very similar to that one on 17 on Thursday.
Love went with the wrong club off the tee Thursday and it cost him when he pulled the ball into thick rough. He had a bunker in front of him and the prospect of Lake Kadijah if he hit the ball too hard.
Love was hoping for a flop shot, but he whiffed on the first try, went into the bunker on the second and then two-putted for a triple bogey.
This time, Love flipped his ball onto the middle of the green and two-putted for a more tolerable bogey.
What was he thinking about the bogeys?
"Just be patient and that things happen in majors," Love said. "You're not going to par every hole. It's going to be hard to hit every shot in tthe fairway and every shot on the green and you're not going to get a good lie every time you hit a shot. So you've just got to be patient."
He was back to even by the turn, thanks in part to holing a bunker shot on 16. Then he played the first six holes of his back nine at 3-under to jump into contention.
"I felt like if I would just get some good rhythm this week and be patient," Love said, "I could play well."
Medinah has been redesigned since the PGA in 1999 and, at 7,561 yards, it's the longest in majors history. It also has rolling hills, plenty of trees and tricky greens.
So far, though, it's been a pushover. The 60 players who scored under-par Thursday broke by two the previous PGA Championship record for any round, set in 1995 in the second round at Riviera.
And there was more of the same Friday.
Stenson opened with back-to-back birdies and was at 9-under by the 13th hole. He gave that stroke back with a bogey on the par-4 15th, but rebounded with a birdie on the par-3 17th before ending his round with a bogey after his tee shot landed in some trees.
"I had about 210 or something to the front, and I played a 6-iron to get up there," Stenson said. "I couldn't really hit the fairway if I hacked it out because you need to keep it low under the trees.
"I hit a good shot and gave myself a chance to save par, which unfortunately I didn't do," he said. "But you lose a few and you win a few."
A Swede has never won a major title, and no European-born player has won the PGA since Tommy Armour in 1930. Though Stenson has a long way to go, he'd be thrilled to snap both of those streaks.
"If you can win on tour, you can win a major championship," he said. "It's just going to be tougher. There's going to be better players and there's more pressure. But I think if I can put myself in good position on Sunday afternoon, then I'll have a shot at it."