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Injury-hit Woods misses cut as Mickelson shines

Charlie Lemay
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Tiger Woods struggled as Phil Mickelson rallied around Valhalla © Getty Images
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Tiger Woods' back woes continued during his second round at the US PGA Championship on Friday as the four-time champion missed the cut at Valhalla Golf Club.

Woods' back issues began on the seventh hole, where he seemed to tweak something on his tee shot, during a disappointing round of 74 as the chasing pack ate away at Rory McIlroy's clubhouse lead of 9-under.

The 14-time major champion grimaced and limped his way around the course but battled through a tortuous 18 holes to eventually miss the cut, but ended on a positive with birdie at the last.

As a result, his Ryder Cup chances have taken a huge blow and a "stubborn" Woods admitted it was "probably not a good idea" to continue.

Speaking about his back, he said: "It was sore. It went out on me on the range."

Lee Westwood looked set to move level with Rory McIlroy before unravelling on the back nine © Getty Images
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Woods had no regrets about attempting to play this week.

"No, as I said, it's not where the surgery was," he said. "It's a different area. When I fell out of that bunker last week, it's the same feeling, the same pain and same spasms."

Asked if a long rest was necessary, Woods said, "I need to get stronger. As I said the other day, I need to get my glutes strong again, my abs and my core back to where I used to have them. They are just not quite there yet.

"Obviously by playing you can't burn the candle at both ends. I need to get stronger physically and be back to where I was.

"I couldn't make a back swing," Woods said. "I can't get the club back. Coming through is fine. I can't get the club back ... I've got to rely on timing, hands and hopefully I can time it just right.

"It's hard because you want the bigger muscles controlling the golf swing. I have got to rely on my hands to do it. The [club] face is rotating so fast through impact because I'm just not able to get my arms and the body in the correct spot."

Playing partner Phil Mickelson, however, put himself well in the hunt with an impressive round of 67. The American started slowly but his first birdie of the day, on the seventh hole, lit the fuse as he went on to gain shots at 9, 10 and 14.

A dropped shot at the par-4 520-yard 15th looked to have curtailed his round, but a superb iron shot into the green at the last gave him chance of an eagle. The 2005 champion was draining putts from every angle, though, and made it to move within three of McIlroy's lead.

McIlroy will be looking over his shoulder as the 44 year old looks to win a sixth major championship.

Jason Day flew up the leaderboard with a round of 65 to move within one shot following his second visit. Three birdies on the front nine accompanied an eagle on the seventh, and the Australian went out in 30, although his back nine was not quite as impressive, going out in 35.

The 26 year old has two PGA Tour victories to his name and five top-five finishes in majors and has put himself in a commanding position following back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18.

Jim Furyk is looking to win a second major championship, following his victory at the US Open in 2003, and he is in the hunt alongside Day at 8-under, after shooting a 68 in his second round.

His swing looks as bizarre as ever but it is effective and he looks confident on the greens, ramming home a host of important putts before completing an impressive day with a birdie on the 18th green.

Rickie Fowler had eight birdies on the card during his second round on his way to a score of 66, 7-under for the championship. The 25 year old was expected to do well following outstanding second-placed finishes at The Open and US Open. Playing partner Victor Dubuisson is also nicely poised on 5-under, along with Joost Luiten, following a marvellous 68.

Bernd Wiesberger made five birdies and two bogeys in his round of 68. Like Mickelson, Wiesberger is now three shots behind leader McIlroy ahead of moving day.

Mikko Ilonen finished strongly with successive birdies to move 7-under overall. One of the latest finishers of the day, Ilonen hit four consecutive birdies around the turn to propel himself up the leaderboard.

Two bogeys followed at 12 and 15 but, following the furore surrounding the big names, Ilonen gained shots at the final two holes to maintain his challenge.

Another on 5-under for the championship is Lee Westwood, who started strongly but unravelled on the back nine to shoot a round of 72.

The 41 year old looked in complete control of his game until he carded a double bogey on the 13th after sending a ball out of bounds. He then put one in the water at 15, walking away with bogey, before dropping another shot at 16. It was hard to watch at times but he still stands a chance if he can score well tomorrow and a birdie at the last will do every bit to improve his confidence.

Westwood has eight top-three finishes in his major career and it remains to be seen whether he has the mental belief to get over the line.

Ian Poulter will be disappointed with his day's work after carding a 73. The Englishman is now 1-under for the championship. It all went pear-shaped after a double bogey on the par-4, ninth hole, but Poulter recovered well on the back nine before ending with a birdie at 18.

He will return for the weekend along with Colin Montgomerie, who certified his place with a birdie at the last hole. A superb wedge into the 18th green left a tricky four-footer, but the Scot showed no signs of nerves to secure weekend action.

Selected others who missed the cut included Miguel Angel Jimenez, KJ Choi, Darren Clarke, Paul Casey, Padraig Harrington and current US Open champion Martin Kaymer, who were all below their best.

Rickie Fowler is well poised ahead of moving day at Valhalla © Getty Images
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