The final hole left a sour taste in his mouth, but once again Tiger Woods has positioned himself to challenge for a 15th major title.
After grinding hard Friday in brutal conditions, and making countless clutch putts, Tiger three-putted the par-4 18th hole for a bogey to finish with a 1-under-par 71. He is tied for the lead in the 94th PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Resort in Kiawah Island, S.C.
Woods has a 36-hole score of 4-under 140 and is knotted with Carl Pettersson and Vijay Singh.
"I'm very pleased to be able to shoot under par today," Woods said. "That was the goal; anything par or better today was going to be a great score, and I was able to accomplish that."
Woods produced one of only five under-par rounds on the day, when the average score was just above 78, two strokes higher than any previous PGA Championship.
"I mean, your start lines, holy cow, we are starting balls so far off line, to have it come back in," Woods said. "There's so much drift to this wind."
A late starter with Keegan Bradley and Martin Kaymer, the trio battled gusting crosswinds of more than 30 mph on the treacherous Pete Dye-designed links course adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. It was a far cry from Thursday's first round, when players took advantage of soft, windless conditions to decimate par.
Friday, players were in survival mode, just trying to keep the ball in play and avoid big numbers. Tiger did that early by pouring in putts from everywhere, one-putting seven times on the front nine.
It started at the 389-yard, par-4 first hole, where he came up short of the green with his approach shot and saved par with a 10-foot putt.
At the downwind, 546-yard, par-5 second, he reached the green in two with an 8-iron and ran his eagle attempt from 45 feet nearly 10 feet past the cup. Woods made the comebacker for birdie.
At the 391-yard, par-4 third, Tiger hit a poor wedge over the green and was left with a difficult uphill chip and no green to work with. He knocked his third shot 20 feet past the hole and made the putt, pumping his right fist.
Woods did even better at the 463-yard, par-4 fourth, where he hit his second shot 45 feet below the cup and swished the uphill birdie putt dead-center.
Tiger came up short of the green with a 6-iron at the 184-yard, par-3 fifth, the ball catching a gust of wind and winding up in a sandy waste area. He blasted eight feet from the hole and buried the par putt.
At the 479-yard, par-4 sixth, Woods two-putted for a par from about 65 feet. He made another nice par save at the par-5 seventh, where he missed the green with his third shot from 130 yards, chipped 10 feet left of the cup and made the putt.
The magic ended at the 186-yard, par-3 eighth, where Tiger found a sandy waste area with a 6-iron, blasted just over the green and two-putted for a bogey from 15 feet.
He also missed the green at the 476-yard, par-4 ninth, a poor drive in the right rough leaving 234 yards to the hole. Woods did well to scoot a fairway wood over the back of the green, then hit a great pitch that somehow stopped one roll short of going into the cup for a birdie.
Still, the tap-in par helped him make the turn in 1-under 35. Tiger hit only three of nine greens but used just 11 putts.
Embarking on the toughest stretch on the course, Woods two-putted the par-4 10th hole, but made it exciting when his two-foot par putt took a victory lap around the cup and fell in. He also two-putted the par-5 11th hole for a par.
At the 419-yard, par-4 12th, Tiger punched a perfectly judged 8-iron five feet from the cup and made the birdie putt. He made a nice two-putt par from off the front of the green at the difficult par-4 13th, then made another scrambling par at the 207-yard, par-3 14th. There, Woods missed the green left, then pitched to within five feet of the cup. With the wind howling during his attempt, the ball caught the hole and did a 360 before falling in.
Tiger two-putted the par-4 15th hole from about 30 feet, failing to take advantage of a big drive and wedge to the green. He also gave himself a great birdie opportunity at the 582-yard, par-5 16th, where he hit another big drive and came up just short of the green with a 4-iron.
Woods elected to putt to the back-left pin position from about 60 feet, but misjudged the speed and ran the ball off the back of the green into a water drain. After getting relief, he hit a beautiful pitch within a foot of the hole to salvage par.
At the always scary, 217-yard, par-3 17th, Tiger flagged a 7-iron that released about 45 feet past the hole. Putting back into the wind, he left his birdie try nearly 10 feet short but saved par, pumping his right fist.
Woods pulled a driver into a sky box at the 509-yard, par-4 18th, but received a free drop. Hitting from an area trampled by spectators, he flushed a 6-iron from 195 yards into the middle of the green, 25 left of the hole. His left-to-right birdie putt slid about six feet past the hole, and he failed to convert for par.
"It was tough out there, wow," Woods said. "You can't take anything for granted; a simple tap-in is not a simple tap-in. The putter is oscillating all over the place. It was just a tough day."
Woods will play in the final twosome at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday with Singh. In June, he shared the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Open at Olympic Club.
"Well, I've been here before," he said. "I've been in this position many times over my career, and again, we are just at the halfway point. We have a long way to go. I haven't looked at the forecast for tomorrow, but if it's anything like it was today, it's going to be tough."