Kuchar Leads PGA as Darkness Stops Play; Woods 7 Shots Back

Matt Kuchar holds a one-shot lead over Nick Watney in the second round of the PGA Championship as darkness suspended play for the second straight day.

Kuchar, 32, birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th holes at Whistling Straits golf course in Kohler, Wisconsin, to get to 8-under par at the season’s final major tournament. With three birdies and a bogey in his second round after a 5-under 67 opening round, he’s three shots in front of seven other players. Tiger Woods, at 1-under overall, has 13 holes remaining in his second round.

“It feels good,” Kuchar said. “I’m enjoying my time out here. There aren’t many people that ever get the chance to be up here, so I’m excited to have the opportunity to do something great over the weekend.”

More players than usual will be sticking around for the start of the weekend after fog delayed play for the second straight day. Woods is among 78 players who will return to the course tomorrow and resume their rounds at 8 a.m. New York time.

Kuchar, a two-time winner on the U.S. PGA Tour, missed the 36-hole cut in his previous two PGA Championship appearances. Although he’s a 10-year professional, he’s most known for his amateur career. After winning the 1997 U.S. Amateur championship, he finished as the low amateur at the 1998 Masters Tournament and U.S. Open.

He turned pro in 2001 and captured the 2002 Honda Classic. His performance slipped in the following years and he played in 2006 on the Nationwide Tour, a professional circuit one level below the PGA Tour.

‘Golf’s Beauty’

“That’s the beauty of the sport of golf,” he said. “There’s no guaranteed contract. You have to perform. Sometimes paying the price and having to dig yourself out of things makes you a better person, a bigger person, and hopefully more prepared to do well in events like this.”

Kuchar’s second win didn’t come until the 2009 Turning Stone Resort Championship, seven years after his first title.

“I went out and had a win straightaway and thought it would be smooth sailing, yet here I am 10 years into it,” he said. “Maybe there really is a 10-year learning curve.”

Jason Dufner, Bryce Molder, Dustin Johnson, Seung Yul Noh, Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson and Simon Khan are all 5-under at the course that sits beside Lake Michigan.

After the fog lifted today, the first round was completed at 2:02 p.m. New York time, nearly two hours after second-round play began.

Late Start

Woods, seeking his fifth PGA Championship title and 15th major tournament victory, began his second round at 6:45 p.m.

Tournament favorite Phil Mickelson is 2-under after a scrambling round of 3-under par 69 today.

“This is a penalizing golf course to not play from the fairway,” Mickelson said. “And I certainly explored a lot of areas here. I grinded pretty hard and you just never know what can happen in a major. I play like I know I can, I can make up some ground. I feel like I’m within striking distance.”

Play resumed today following a 2-hour, 40-minute delay for fog. That came after more than three hours of interruptions yesterday before the fog cleared, keeping 78 golfers from completing their opening rounds.

Woods, winless in eight starts this season, had five straight pars to start his second round. He missed a four-foot birdie putt on his final hole today before leaving the course. A day earlier, Woods snapped a career-worst streak of seven straight rounds without breaking par with an opening score of 1-under 71.

The world’s No. 1 player according to the Official World Golf Ranking, Woods is seeking to rebound from his worst performance as a professional. He finished next-to-last at the U.S. PGA Tour’s Bridgestone Invitational last week at 18-over par, 30 shots off the lead.

Woods’s last victory in a major championship came at the 2008 U.S. Open.

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