Tiger Woods ended with a level-par 70 at the US PGA Championship after poor start while Gary Woodland took a surprise one-shot lead into the second round
As Rickie Fowler delivered his latest statement of major championship intent Tiger Woods provided a reminder of the attribute that once made him so dominant in the same environment. Talent, after all, is nothing without fortitude.
At the position of three over par after two holes Woods was in danger of being a US PGA footnote. His latest tournament obituary was being penned.
Often lost in discussion of the 42-year-olds remarkable career is his ability to scrap like a seasoned street fighter. Woods retrieved all of his shots before signing for a levelpar 70 that will have him glancing towards the leaders on Friday as opposed to fearing a missed cut.
It kept me in the tournament, Woods said of his recovery. I could have easily gone the other way, being three over through two. A lot of things could happen, not a lot were positive but I hung in there and turned it around. I was able to grind out a score.
His determination was typified on the 15th, his 6th. Having found dense shrubbery twice he played a chip to within 3ft of the cup to save par. Rory McIlroys drive, clean approach and two putts appeared bland in comparison.
Fowler has been in this position many times. An opening round of 65 was notable for his accuracy as the 29-year-old hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation. By close of play, Fowler had been headed by Gary Woodlands 64. There was an element of surprise to that; Woodland has no top 10s in his last 27 major appearances.
If, as has been widely mooted, the course layout in Missouri more resembles a standard PGA Tour event than a major then Fowler has great cause for hope.
He is yet to win one of the big four but has far less trouble converting promise into tangible reward on standard tour weeks.
Cruel history, including at this event in 2014 when he was denied by McIlroy, has taught him not to look far ahead.
Im definitely happy but on Thursday you cant win the tournament, you can definitely take yourself out of it and lose it, so we took care of what we needed to take care of today and we move on, Fowler said.
Ian Poulter has the same aspiration as Fowler in seeking to crown years of eminence with a major triumph. His 67 kept the dream firmly alive. After a spell in Europe and having seen the dismal weather forecast for St Louis in the early part of this week, Poulter arrived a day before competitive action started.
I hadnt been home [to Florida] since the 20th of May, he said. So it was good to get back, have a rest, unpack, fill the fridge full of food, have a couple of nights sleep in my own bed and come up early on Wednesday morning. I feel refreshed after a couple of days at home.
Deep emotion would be attached to a Jason Day victory. The Australian was rocked by the pre-tournament news that his close friend and compatriot Jarrod Lyle had died from leukemia at the age of 36. Lyle and Day began competitive careers in the United States at the same time.
I received a text about Jarrod. Its hard because you sit there, you know him, hes a buddy of yours and hes not there anymore, Day said after his 67. Hes never going to come back. Thats the hardest thing to sort of come by.
I lived across the street from him when we first started out in Orlando. He was a good buddy of mine. Its heartbreaking. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and two kids.