Tiger Woods has seen this script many times before. Now it is up to Woods to write a different ending than what he has experienced the past few years.
He could not have asked for a better start in his quest for a 15th major victory. Woods shot a 1-under 71 in the second round of the PGA Championship on Friday to grab a share of the lead after 36 holes. He is tied atop the leaderboard with Vijay Singh and Carl Pettersson at 4-under through two rounds.
If this situation seems familiar, that's because it mirrors how Woods started at the 2012 U.S. Open. His finish at the Olympic Club also offers enough of a reason for skepticism that he won't also crumble over the weekend at Kiawah Island. Woods has taken plenty of strides forward in 2012, but his comeback will only feel complete if he can end his major drought and win the PGA Championship.
One thing Woods needs to do is to mirror the form he has shown through the first 36 holes over the final 36. Woods put himself in an excellent position through solid putting and strong driving. Consistent putting proved to be his biggest asset in the second round. He made one putt after another in a stiff wind and ended up being one of just 10 golfers to stay under par through two rounds.
There is still some work for Woods to do in the final two rounds. He needs to hit more greens and rely less on his putting to keep him out of trouble. Woods has hit only 19 of 36 greens so far. He also needs to improve his iron play, which was average much of the day during the second round.
There is no guarantee that Woods will come out on top even if he holds steady. Singh looks as good as he has in years after posting the only score under 70 in the second round. Pettersson made one mistake after another, yet managed to retain a share of the lead after Woods bogeyed the final hole.
Still, Woods is at least in contention. His past track record atop the leaderboard is good. And, as Ernie Els showed at the 2012 British Open, sometimes all it takes is playing consistent golf when everyone else is struggling. The fact is that even in a prolonged slump without winning a major, Woods is still one of the world's top golfers.
Another major victory on Sunday will serve as the best evidence yet that his time has not passed.
John Coon enjoys getting in a round from time to time in the Salt Lake City area when he is not covering golf as a freelance sports reporter.