Tiger Woods hasn't had a lot to smile about Friday at Whistling Straits. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tiger Woods hasn't had a lot to smile about Friday at Whistling Straits. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tiger fighting to make the cut, keep streaks alive

Tiger Woods has never missed the cut in a major as a professional, and he's gone a record 331 consecutive weeks ranked No. 1 in the world. But both streaks are in serious danger of ending as Woods heads for home at Whistling Straits late Friday afternoon needing a rally to make it to the weekend at the 86th PGA Championship.

HAVEN, Wis. (AP) -- Tiger Woods' tee shot faded into the rough on the ninth hole Friday at the PGA Championship, and he slammed his club into the tee box. The world's top-ranked player knew he was running out of chances to avoid missing the cut in a major for the first time in his pro career.

Woods had opened with a 75 on Thursday and made a brief early charge in the second round with birdies on his first two holes. But the rally stalled with bogeys at Nos. 5 and 6, dropping him 3 over par for the tournament.

The projected cut was at 1 over and Woods was spraying his driver all over the course. He kept saving pars with his short game, but was still 2 over through 13 holes.

Ernie Els and first-round leader Darren Clarke shared the lead midway through the second round at 9 under.

Els, the runner-up at the Masters and second at the British Open after losing a playoff to American Todd Hamilton, made three birdies but couldn't shake Clarke, who overcame an early double bogey. Briny Baird and Vijah Singh were at 8 under.

Woods opened his second round with back-to-back birdies but the momentum vanished when he reached the par-5 fifth, nicknamed the "Snake.".

Woods, who struggled with his putter in a round of 75 on Thursday, had plenty on the line. At stake are his streak of 331 straight weeks as the world's No. 1 player and his five-year run as the tour's player of the year.

After the two birdies, Woods hit his drive into a deep fairway bunker on the par-4 fourth hole, but blasted his second shot onto the green and made par. But he gave up a shot at No. 5, where me managed to get up and down from the fairway to save bogey.

Earlier, the "Snake" -- featuring a pair of 90-degree doglegs on the narrow fairway that lead to the green -- also took a bite out of Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson, looking to win his second major of the year, had things going his way until his second shot found the water on the par-5. He put his fourth shot 30 feet from the hole and then 3-putted from there for a double bogey 7.

Mickelson made bogeys at Nos. 7-8, then birdied No. 9 to finish at par-72. As much trouble as the fifth hole gave Mickelson, it was his putter that cost him birdies.

"For an eight-hole stretch my putter didn't seem to cooperate. I just gave away a lot of strokes there," Mickelson said.

Mickelson broke through for his first major title at the Masters. He finished second in the U.S. Open and third in the British Open, putting him in position to become the first player to finish in the top three in all four majors in one year. Mickelson, who opened the PGA with a 69, has shot nine rounds in the 60s at this year's majors.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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