JOHNS CREEK, GA - AUGUST 12: Tiger Woods wipes his face during the second round of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on August 12, 2011 in Johns Creek, Georgia. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\120940938.jpg
Updated: November 16, 2011 1:25AM
JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — If Tiger Woods ever resumes his quest for Jack Nicklaus’ record for major wins, he might look back on this brief stay at the 2011 PGA Championship as the low point of his career.
The 14-time major winner followed a dismal first-round 77 with a messy second-round 73 on Friday, low-lighted by back-to-back double bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12. On the 11th, he hit a green-side bunker shot into the water. On the 12th, he drove it in the woods, punched out and then drilled the ball right back into the woods.
He finished 10 over, missing the cut by six shots. It was only his seventh missed cut in 260 tour events, and just his third missed cut as a pro in a major.
A man who once had the most admired swing on the planet now looks so lost with a club in his hand that even those who consider him a pariah because of his sexual escapades might feel sympathetic.
And yet, Woods, while disappointed, said the problem is a lack of reps with his new swing — a swing in which he remains confident.
“I showed signs I can hit the ball exactly how I know I can,’’ Woods said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t do it enough times. The changes I’m making, I’m hitting the ball further. The ball is now coming off cleaner, faster. I’ve got to get used to that.’’
Woods, who declined to play in Greensboro, N.C., next week, doesn’t qualify for the four-tournament FedEx Cup playoff. He isn’t scheduled to play again until the Australian Open, which begins Nov. 11.
“Now I’ll have nothing to do but work on my game,’’ he said, looking forward to working with new swing coach Sean Foley. “That’s going to be good.’’
Get ready for a shootout. Rookie Keegan Bradley, who shot 64, and Jason Dufner, who shot 65, share the 36-hole lead. But 23 more players are within four shots of the leaders, including eight who are within two shots.
And 50 players are within six shots of the lead. Considering that first-round leader Steve Stricker shot a second-round 74 after an opening 63, anything can happen from here.
“There’s tons and tons of guys that can play golf out here,’’ Dufner said. “The networks and the media focus on the bigger names for a reason. That’s who people want to see. Tiger Woods. Phil Mickelson. But there’s other guys that can really, really play out here.’’
No roar from Rory
U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy was able to play through a strained right wrist, but doesn’t seem on the verge of adding a second major after shooting a second-round 73 that leaves him 3 over, eight shots back, heading into the weekend.
“It was very frustrating,’’ said McIlroy, who struck a tree root with his club Thursday. “I’m worried about it because I don’t feel as if I can’t play to the best of my abilities with it. But I’m not worried about it long term. It should take a few weeks just to heal.’’