PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — It has been more than 30 years since PGA National has hosted a major championship on the PGA Tour.
The conditions just feel that tough this week at the Honda Classic.
A steady 20-plus mph wind, crusty greens that look more like crusty browns, lush rough and a difficult setup have led to plenty of high numbers the first two days.
Smylie Kaufmann shot an 83 on Thursday. Friday’s cut was five over and the leading score was just three under. Only four players in the morning wave of the second round broke par.
Speaking of par, Tiger Woods, who teed off in the afternoon, played his first six holes in even and promptly climbed seven spots on the leaderboard. When he made the turn at just one under, he’d jumped 11 spots into a tie for 10th. By the time he finished in one over he was just four back and tied for 14th.
“It’s really difficult,” said Webb Simpson, who shot two over and was still tied for third just one back. “It doesn't let up.”
Daniel Berger, who shot two over Friday and is tied for seventh, put it another way: Getting punched in the face.
PGA National played more than three strokes over par on Friday, with the 190-yard 17th playing as the most difficult hole on the course. A day after there were 24 balls in the water there, the manmade lake swallowed up 38 more on Friday. It’s little brother, the 179-yard 15th, also over water, gobbled up 37 balls the first two days, including 21 on Friday.
Somehow, leader Luke List, who went out early in the second round, shot 66 with just one bogey.
“I had a weird lie in the bunker and made a bad swing,” he said of his lone blemish on seven. “But that's going to happen out here.
“I'm really pleased the way I played. A bunch of pars and just hanging on. This golf course is winning this week so far and I think whoever hangs on the hardest is going to come out on top on Sunday.”
Even when balls did find the putting surface there was a whole other challenge.
“There's no ridge structure,” Woods said of the greens after the first round. “You hit shots and you see this big puff of sand on the greens.”
Or As Rory McIlroy put it, “Some grass. Some grass would be nice.”
Added defending champ Rickie Fowler, who missed the cut, in about as sarcastic a tone as you’ll ever hear from one of the most polite players on tour: “Everyone is playing the same greens. I'll leave it at everyone is playing the same greens.
“It's unfortunate that the greens have changed this much in a year. I mean, they typically get slick and quick on the weekend because they dry out, but at least there's some sort of surface.”
Another player took it a step further, saying the tournament is in danger of losing the greens entirely.
The good news: Saturday’s forecast calls for a 40 percent chance of rain, with a shower or two expected in the morning.
The bad news: The wind is expected to blow again.