KIAWAH ISLAND — Dustin Johnson will be around for the weekend in the 94th PGA Championship.
After making five bogeys in his final six holes on a blustery and arduous Friday afternoon on Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course, he’s not quite sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
“I won’t answer that,” Johnson said, managing a smile despite his struggles.
Johnson shot a 7-over-par 79 on a day when the average score was over 78 and made the cut on the number at 6-over 150. He’s 10 shots out of the lead shared by three players, including Tiger Woods.
“I mean, it’s so windy,” Johnson said. “I didn’t hit bad shots, but you had to be spot-on today. Or if you miss it you just have to miss it in the right place. I did that well on the front but on the back I didn’t. I misjudged the wind a couple times and got it in the wrong spot for easy bogeys. And I missed a couple short putts. It was just a tough day.”
Johnson birdied the par-5 second to reach 2 under for the tournament and threaten the top 10, then triple-bogeyed the par-5 seventh hole to fall to 1 over. He was just to the right of the green after his second shot and pitched over the green into a sandy area, and later had a chip come back toward him from the edge of the green.
“[The lie] was fine, I just hit a terrible shot, hit it too hard over the green,” Johnson said. “Then once you get in these bunkers, some are good and some are very tough. I hit two bad shots, a poor chip shot and missed a putt for 7. That equals an 8.”
The Coastal Carolina alumnus considers a wayward drive to the left on the 15th hole to be his only poor drive of the round. Yet he made five consecutive bogeys from holes 13-17 before a par on 18 got him into the weekend.
He avoided missing his second consecutive PGA Championship cut. He missed the cut last year at Atlanta Athletic Club after missing out on a playoff in the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits because of a two-stroke penalty on the 72nd hole.
Back in the game
Rory McIlroy appears to be out of his mid-season funk.
McIlroy, who won last year’s U.S. Open at Congressional by eight strokes, didn’t finish outside the top-five in his first five events of 2012, including a win at the Honda Classic, and took over the No. 1 ranking in the world.
He slumped with three missed cuts in four PGA Tour events through the U.S. Open, but tied for fifth last week in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
“I was working very hard on technical stuff for the last few weeks, and then a slight mental adjustment, as well,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I was maybe hitting too many balls on the range. I just needed to go out there and play a bit more on the course and see shots.”
McIlroy followed up a 67 Thursday with a 3-over 75 Friday, but played his final five holes 1 under with a pair of birdies and a bogey and enters the third round tied for fifth at 2-under 142, just two shots out of the lead.
“It could have been a couple shots better of course,” McIlroy said, “but I limited the damage as much as I could and I’m in a good position going into the weekend, so I can’t really ask for much more.”
McIlroy will take a guarded approach into the weekend if current conditions continue. “You can’t get aggressive with this weather,” McIlroy said. “You don’t even care where the pin is, you just try to hit it on the green somewhere.”
The entire Ocean Course played difficult Friday, but the two-hole stretch of the 13th and 14th holes played ridiculously tough. The leader on Sunday will have his work cut out for him to avoid dropping a stroke or two on those two holes.
The par-4 13th played 445 yards Friday and the par-3 14th played 207, down from 249 Thursday. They surrendered just five birdies each on Friday, while combining for 99 bogeys, 29 double bogeys, and four others. Less than 7.7 percent of the field – 12 of 156 players – hit the 13th green in regulation, and some players considered the 14th to be more difficult.
“All the par-3s were just really difficult,” said Vijay Singh, the only player to break 70 Friday with a 69. “I don’t know what [course architect Pete] Dye was thinking when he made 14. He must have been asleep or something. But it’s one of the hardest par-3s I think anywhere. I don’t know anyone who is going to be happy playing that hole today. I hit a good shot and made bogey.”
S.C. shut out
It doesn’t appear any of the eight players who either call or have called South Carolina home will win the first major ever played in the state.
Only former Myrtle Beach resident Dustin Johnson, Greenville’s Bill Haas and former Clemson player Michael Hoey of Northern Ireland made the cut, but none are near the lead. Haas and Hoey are tied for 47th at 4-over 148, and Johnson is tied for 67th at 150.
William McGirt (152), Jonathan Byrd (152), Lucas Glover (155), Kyle Stanley (158) and Tommy Gainey (158) all missed the cut.
Back to work
None of the 20 club pros in the field made the cut. Bob Sowards of Dublin, Ohio, was the low club pro at 8-over 152.
Pinehurst Resort instructor Kelly Mitchum, the lone representative of the Carolinas PGA, tied for seventh among club pros at 13-over 76-81—157 in his fourth PGA Championship.
Contact ALAN BLONDIN at 626-0284.