After jumping to a third-place start at the PGA Championship on Thursday, former Kansas Jayhawk Gary Woodland said improved putting would be key to moving up at Quail Hollow.
Not only did Woodland’s putting fall off in Friday’s rain-delayed second round, his signature iron accuracy was also missing en route to a 3-over round of 74. The Topeka native fell to even-par for the tournament and stands eight strokes behind co-leaders Karl Kister and Hideki Matsuyama heading into the weekend.
“It’s frustrating because I drove the ball pretty good today and gave myself a lot of chances,” Woodland said. “My iron game killed me and I misread a couple putts coming down the stretch.”
Woodland carded four bogeys and only one birdie, which came on the par-5 10th hole — his first hole played Friday. After landing just short of the green from 306 yards away, Woodland got up-and-down, sinking an 8-foot birdie putt.
In position at 4-under par and just four strokes behind leader Kisner, Woodland settled for par after missing a three-footer for birdie on the par-4 14th, then bogeyed the par-5 16th hole with a flubbed chip shot and missed 8-footer after nearly reaching the green in two.
Woodland nearly found a greenside creek on the par-5 18th before his approach shot left him 45 feet short of the hole, where he two-putted en route to his second bogey.
A pulled 8-iron from 171 yards out left Woodland in a greenside bunker on the par-4 first hole, where he failed to get up and down for par. His final bogey, on the par-4 8th, came thanks in part to a heavy 9-iron from 140 yards out that landed over the green.
His 33 putts Friday came after he used the flat stick only 25 times on Thursday.
“Unfortunately I have to sleep of some anger, he said. “It was very frustrating.”
Despite his short-game struggles, Woodland improved on his driving accuracy Friday, ranking near the top of the 156-player field. He found 10 of 14 fairways in Friday’s second round after hitting nine on Thursday.
That lone silver lining in an otherwise difficult round will give Woodland, the 44th-ranked player in the world, some measure of confidence going into the weekend as he seeks his first major victory.
“Fortunately I played well enough where I can sleep on this and come back strong tomorrow for hopefully a big weekend,” Woodland said.