After dealing with treacherous, lightning-fast greens on Saturday, Tiger Woods almost thought he was playing in a major.
We were kind of joking out there today, theyre tying to audition for a major championship down the road, Woods said after shooting a 2-under 70 to remain in contention.
The only difference is theres no rough right now. You add rough, make it a par-70 and there you go.
The rough was cut from a normal 4 inches to 2 for this tournament, but the greens were made much faster. With no rain until Saturdays late-day thunderstorm ' which came after Woods had finished his round ' things only got quicker.
Man the greens were fast, Woods said. They were hard, fast and crusty. Any putt above the hole, you didnt have a good chance of making it because it was going to wobbling all over the place. You had to hit your irons well, hit it below the hole, to give yourself a putt at all.
Woods had 29 putts Saturday that included a three-putt on 17 in a bogey-bogey finish that dropped him from the lead.
But Woods, who won here in 2007, made clear he wasnt complaining about the major-like conditions.
Yeah, I kind of like major championships, he said.
LEFTYS LETDOWN: So much for another Tiger-Phil Sunday showdown.
After their electric pairing and surged up the leaderboard on the final day of the Masters, Woods and Phil Mickelson were poised for a similar finish at Quail Hollow heading into the weekend.
Mickelsons 3-over 75 on Saturday ended those thoughts.
Its disappointing to play that round, said Mickelson, who fell to 3-under. I was playing much better than that.
Mickelson played the first six holes at 2-over before consecutive birdies gave him confidence. Then his round came undone with double bogey at the par-5 10th.
Ten killed me, Mickelson said. I had 5-iron in there, and if I just missed it left of the pin I should make 4. Instead I hit it in the bunker and make 7. That was where the turning point was. I felt like I tripled a hole and just didnt get it going from there.
Mickelson closed with seven pars and a bogey for his worst round since he missed the cut at the Houston Open last month.
Well, Im not really in contention to win, Mickelson said. But Im going to try to get out (Sunday) and play a good round and carry a little bit of momentum for next week.
ADOPTED HOMETOWN: Brendon de Jonge put himself into a contention with 5-under 67 that brought smiles to the fans of his adopted hometown, far from the troubles of his native country.
After leaving Zimbabwe to attend Virginia Tech, de Jonge stayed in the United States, moving to Charlotte 3 1/2 years ago. He earned his PGA Tour card after spending last season on the Nationwide Tour.
He had a large following in a round that included had eight birdies and three bogeys to move to 8-under.
Several family members have joined de Jonge in the U.S., but his parents still live in the Africa country where political unrest has led to a nearly worthless currency, crippling poverty and critical shortages of food and basic goods.
I try to make a point to get back once a year, at worst once every two years, de Jonge said. The political situation is obviously deteriorating terribly with the hyperinflation and everything thats going on.
You know its just said because it was a great place to grow up. Its a wonderful lifestyle.
His parents still lead a decent life, de Jonge said, and they dont want to move.
LEES WEEKEND DEBUT: U.S. Amateur champion Danny Lee is assured his first professional paycheck. Stumbling over the final two holes on Saturday may cost him money.
The 18-year-old New Zealander made his first cut in his second tournament after turning pro and was at 9-under on the 17th tee. But Lee hit his tee shot into the water for a double bogey on the par-3.
Lee then missed a 5-footer for par on 18 to finish with a 70. He sat at 6-under.
IN YOUR LAP: Now thats an unplayable lie.
Jason Dufners opening tee shot Saturday sailed left and into the crowd, landing in the lap of 18-year-old Miranda Cooper of nearby Shelby, N.C.
By the time Dufner reached the scene, all the fans had shuffled out of the immediate area except Cooper, who was still sitting in her folding chair, ball in her lap and her hands covering her face in embarrassment.
Youve got to play it where it lays, PGA Tour rules official Tony Wallin jokingly told Dufner.
Wallin then put a marker under Coopers chair. She got up and Dufner got to drop the ball in that spot without penalty. He reached the green, then three putted for bogey.
Dufner recovered to shoot 71 and was at 7-under.
DIVOTS: Anthony Kims hopes of defending his title were squashed with a 78 that included a 42 on the front nine. Y.E. Yang of South Korea, who won the Honda Classic earlier this year, bogeyed the first hole before recovering for a blistering 66, the best round of the day. He was at 7-under. After making his second cut in his first full season following knee surgery, Brad Faxon shot 80 to drop to 7-over. The thunderstorm delayed play for 1 hour, 12 minutes with only the final two groups still on the course.