KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. — Once the 12-foot par putt found the bottom of the cup on the 18th hole at the Ocean Course, Keegan Bradley glanced skyward, wiped his forehead, and exhaled deeply, looking like he had just slogged through a 10-round heavyweight fight.
Bradley may have absorbed a few body blows, but he was still standing. The defending PGA champion signed for a 5-over-par 77 on Friday, but was still within striking distance, five shots behind the co-leaders halfway through the 94th PGA Championship.
“That was without a doubt the hardest golf course or round I’ve ever played in my life. There’s not one shot that’s easy,” Bradley said. “This wind, I’m sure that’s what everyone wanted to see, it coming up like this. I mean, Tiger [Woods] shot 1 under today, and it’s about one of the best rounds I’ve ever seen.”
Woods, Carl Pettersson, and Vijay Singh are tied for the lead at 4 under. Bradley, who opened with a 68, is tied for 15th at 1 over.
A birdie on No. 2 pushed Bradley to 5 under and within a shot of the lead, but four consecutive bogeys, starting at the 11th, were part of the seven he made. Everyone was making bogeys, though; the challenge was to limit the damage.
“Oh man, I felt like I was hanging on the whole day,’’ Bradley said. “At any moment, I could have just blew up, so I did a very good job of shooting the number that I did. I never thought I’d be happy shooting 5 over par, but in a weird way I feel relieved. I’m still right in it. The lead’s at 4 under, I’m only five back.”
In captain’s hands
If Hunter Mahan or Rickie Fowler want to make the Ryder Cup team, they’ll need to convince Davis Love they’re worthy, because his captain’s picks are now their only option. Both began the week outside the top eight on the points list — Mahan ninth, Fowler 12th — and both missed the cut. The top eight after the PGA automatically earn spots on the team that will face Europe at Medinah next month.
Mahan’s position is a bit curious, because he’s won two tournaments this year, is fourth on the FedEx Cup points list, and fifth on the PGA Tour money list.
“We’ll have the next few tournaments to make an impression,” said Mahan, who shot a second-round 80 and was 8 over for 36 holes. “Where I am in the FedEx Cup and the money list, it seems kind of crazy that I wouldn’t be in the top eight.
“It isn’t a one-tournament pick. I’ve been on the last five [US Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup] teams, and had some success there. Unfortunately, over eight months of golf you’re not going to play well every week. You’re not going to play well when you want to.”
Mahan did attend a dinner Thursday night that included Love and a number of other players who may wind up on the Ryder Cup team.
Fowler also shot 80 and finished 10 over. The players who were 10th and 11th on the Ryder Cup points list — Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk — both made the cut and will have a chance to work their way into the top eight.
One down, one out
A highly-ranked Englishman looking for his first major championship — No. 2 Lee Westwood — will have to wait eight more months to resume the chase. But another, top-ranked Luke Donald, will squeeze into the weekend on the number. Donald (76) finished two rounds at 6 over, Westwood (76) at 7 over.
“I hit a lot of good shots today that I thought I’d have a good putt for birdie and ended up making bogey,” said Donald. “It’s tough out here.”
Early wake-up call
Joost Luiten was the only player in the field who did not complete his second round. Luiten, part of the final threesome off No. 1, chose not to hit his tee shot on No. 18 as darkness set in. He’s at 1 over (5 over on his round) and will return at 7:30 a.m. Saturday . . . Adam Scott was pleased with his 3-over 75 — “I consider 75 kind of a par round of golf out there today” — but was concerned about the female spectator he hit with an errant drive on No. 7. The ball ricocheted back toward the fairway (a good break) but Scott didn’t take advantage, making a bogey. He’s at 1 under . . . The last thing Angel Cabrera was expecting as he stood over his ball on the seventh tee was that someone else’s golf ball would come flying his way. But that’s what happened, with Peter Hanson sending his approach shot to the sixth green way right and at Cabrera. It made contact with a golf bag and finished at his feet. Hanson chipped on from the tee and saved his par at No. 6. Cabrera, perhaps unnerved (but likely not), bogeyed the par-5 seventh . . . John Daly, tied for sixth after an opening 68, bogeyed his first three holes and shot 77 . . . Charley Hoffman, who made a quadruple bogey on his first hole Thursday, opened with a triple bogey in the second round and shot 76 . . . None of the 20 club professionals made the cut . . . Third-round television coverage will be shown Saturday on TNT from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with CBS taking the baton from 2-7 p.m. . . . Kevin Na (shoulder) and Scott Verplank (shoulder) withdrew. Both players shot first-round 75s . . . , and both were 6 over on their second rounds when they withdrew . . . Michael Hoey was disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard, failing to account for a penalty he was assessed during his round.