KIAWAH ISLAND — Not noted for signing autographs, Tiger Woods signed two while playing the fourth hole Saturday in the PGA Championship.
Woods hit spectators on his first and second shots on No. 4, presenting a signed glove to each victim. Then, he bogeyed that hole and two of the next three, quickly dropping out of the lead.
That’s why Woods’ mood was as dark as the skies over the Ocean Course when play was suspended due to a thunderstorm Saturday afternoon. He’ll be tied for 11th and five shots back of Vijay Singh and surging Rory McIlroy when play resumes this morning.
“I got off to a rough start today and couldn’t get anything going,” said Woods, seeking his 15th major title and first since 2008. “I’ll come back (today) and see what happens. There are a lot of holes left to play.”
That much is true.
Woods and Singh, who were tied with Carl Pettersson for the halfway lead, will have to finish 11 holes starting at 7:45 a.m before the final 18 begins at 11:44 a.m.
Players will go out in groups of three on both the first and 10th tees for the final round, with the last group set to tee off at 1:45 p.m.
If all goes well, the PGA Championship, also known as “glory’s last shot” for being the final major of the year, won’t be forced to a Monday finish. The last time the PGA finished on a Monday was in 2008 at Oakland Hills in Michigan.
“There is a chance of lingering showers in the morning,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s director of championships.
“But following that, our weather people say we can expect a very good day with winds slightly less than they have been (Saturday).”
Momentum would seem to belong to McIlroy, the young Irish star who won the U.S. Open last year. McIlroy saved par after his drive on No. 4 lodged in the branch of a tree, and went on to make five birdies and a bogey while shooting 32 on the front.
“Playing 27 holes (today), I definitely don’t mind,” McIlroy said. “I don’t mind if it takes a while to get it done.”
On No. 3, a driveable par-4 at 317 yards, McIlroy’s tee shot stuck in a branch of a greenside tree. No one could find the ball at first.
“We’d been looking for maybe three minutes when one of the guys that was working for TV came over and said it’s actually stuck in the tree,” McIlroy said.
“I’m like, how can it be stuck in this thing? There’s no branches, no leaves for it to be stuck in. But it had wedged itself between the tree bark and the actual tree.”
McIlroy took a drop, pitched on the green and made the putt for a par.
“I thought it was very important to do that,” he said, “especially after birdies on the first two holes.”
Woods may have caught a break with the weather. His round went south after he missed a short birdie putt on No. 3.
After hitting two spectators for bogey on No. 4, he hooked a tee shot on No. 5 for bogey, then had to crouch low to hit out of a sandy area off the fairway at No. 7 for a third bogey.
Tiger’s struggles were all the more surprising since early scores indicated the Ocean Course was there for the taking.
After the hardest scoring day in PGA Championship history Friday, Steve Stricker, Bo Van Pelt and Jimmy Walker carded early 67s, 5-under-par. Euros David Lynn and Padraig Harrington shot 68 and 69, respectively.
“I was looking to get off to a great start,” McIlroy said.
“I saw that a few guys early in the day got off to good starts and I wanted to try to do that, too.”
He wasn’t the only one. Adam Scott shot 32 on the front to get to minus-5, good for solo third. Petterson is fourth at minus-4, with Van Pelt and former Masters champ Trevor Immelman a shot back and tied for fifth.
Today will be a long one for all 72 players who made the cut, but only one will hoist the Wanamaker Trophy at the end of it.
“The way I look at it, I’m going into the final day of the final major of the season tied for the lead,” McIlroy said.
“I mean, I can’t ask for much more. I don’t care if it’s 27 holes, 18 holes, 36 holes. I’m just happy to be going in there in a good position.”