CHASKA, Minn. — Forget being perfect or flashy. With the wind gusting and sauna-like heat, hanging on will do.
Tiger Woods regained the outright lead at the PGA Championship with back-to-back birdies Friday, getting an assist from playing partner and defending champion Padraig Harrington on the first one. Woods was at 6 under at Hazeltine National, two strokes in front of Harrington.
Graeme McDowell and Alvaro Quiros, who briefly had shares of the lead, are at 3 under. So are U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover (70), Brendan Jones (70) and Vijay Singh (par).
“I don’t think I have to validate anything,” said Glover, whose win at Bethpage Black was only the second of his career. “I’ve been out here six years, and had a pretty good career. It would just be nice to win another one. I’m not looking to prove anything to anybody else.”
Phil Mickelson, meanwhile, is in danger of missing the cut at the PGA for the first time since 1995 after a second straight 2-over 74. The cut was projected to be 2 over when Lefty finished, but was at 3 over midway through the afternoon.
“I don’t know if it will make it or not. I’m not going to beat many people putting the way I am,” said Mickelson, who has played sparingly this summer to be with his wife, Amy, and his mother, both of whom have breast cancer. “I’ve got to get this thing turned around.”
After playing blemish-free in the first round, Woods had a bogey on his first hole Friday after putting his first two shots in rough stuff and leaving an 8-foot par putt short. He also missed a birdie opportunity on the first par-5, leaving his approach shot 35 feet short.
But with the air hot and muggy and the wind blowing so hard it rattled the flagstick in the cup on the first hole, just getting through is a feat. The rounds of the day came in the morning, when Tim Clark and Ernie Els each shot 4-under 68. Club pro Grant Sturgeon gets a nod, too, for a 1-under par.
“I think I am very glad I played this morning,” Geoff Ogilvy said on Twitter. “Looks pretty tough right now.”
But Woods, looking for his first major of the year, is pretty tough, too.
He caught a break on the par-4 No. 6 when Harrington’s shot landed about 7 feet behind his on the green. Harrington’s birdie putt had the right distance but skirted too far left, giving Woods a perfect read for his own putt. Sure enough, it rolled straight into the cup for his first birdie of the day.
He added another on the next hole, rolling in a 5-footer.
Harrington is even for the day. He bogeyed the long par-5 No. 3, finding sand twice and missing a 10-footer for par. But he got the stroke right back on the next hole, a par 3.
Mickelson skipped the British Open to be with his wife and mother, and his appearance at Bridgestone last weekend was his first since the U.S. Open. The layoff is evident.
Mickelson sprayed his tee shots in the rough, the sand and the gallery — one on Thursday going so deep he could have grabbed a snack from a corporate tent. But it’s his putter that’s really hurt him. He’s been trying to tweak his stroke, but he hasn’t gotten used to it quite yet.
He made a bogey on 18 when he missed a putt, then missed a 3-footer on No. 1 for another bogey (he started on the back nine). He also missed one from 8-feet on the par-3 No. 4.
He did make an eagle on the par-5 No. 7 , then had a chance to pick up another stroke with a 15-footer on the eighth. But it ran long, and Mickelson waved his hands as if to say, “Come on!”
“I think the struggling on the greens is carrying over a little bit into maybe my focus on some other shots,” he said. “I don’t feel I’m hitting it bad, but I am hitting some bad shots.”