KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. - In Friday's harrowing episode of "Survivor: Kiowah Island," 83 tribe members were voted off the island and many of them fled the exits like men just released from indenture.
In one punishing 24-hour turnaround, the 94th PGA Championship morphed from a fun-filled birdie-fest into one of the hardest days in major championship memory that left many of the dazed combatants feeling as if they had just crawled across 7,676 yards of broken glass and beaten to a pulp.
"That's because we were," co-leader Tiger Woods said. "Sometimes you have slow days but the conditions aren't brutal like this."
Amid the chaos prompted by 40 kph wind, a bit of rain and the PGA's sadistic set-up, 49-year-old Vijay Singh emerged as the king of the survivors, if not the leaderboard. Playing in the most difficult conditions early on, he grinded out a score of 69 that, under the circumstances, seemed more like 59.
Singh shares top billing with Woods and Carl Pettersson at four-under-par 140 heading into Saturday's third round. England's Ian Poulter is a shot back while Rory McIlroy and Jamie Donaldson share fifth place at minus two. A total of 10 players are in red figures after 36 holes.
For a little perspective, be aware that Thursday's opening round produced 24 scores in the 60's and 65 scores of par or better. Friday, only Singh scored in the 60's and only 13 others were at par or better. Also on Friday, the conditions produced 31 scores of 80 or higher.
As the day wore on, Singh's amazing round started looking even better and better.
"It's one of the toughest setups I've seen at a major championship," said Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell, who is at even par after shooting 76 on Friday. "It was a tough setup for a calm day and with a 30 mile-an-hour wind across the course, you've got a serious test of golf on your hands. Seventy-five or below is a decent score. Vijay's 69, now that's a serious score. A serious score."
In the end, 73 players made the cut at six-over-par or better and 83 were dismissed.
When he started off on his round, Singh was in a tie for 32nd place and admitted that, given the conditions "I would have taken a 72 right then."
When he came off the golf course at about 1 p.m., having shot the best round of the day in the most difficult conditions possible, he just shook his head.
"Yeah, sure, I shot 69 but if I had to go out there and play again, I don't know what I'd shoot," he said. "It's one of the tougher conditions I've ever played and put this golf course in the middle of it, it becomes more brutal."
Singh has three major championships on his resume, including two PGA titles, but the last one was accomplished eight years ago, in 2004. If he is able to hold things together this weekend and claim his third PGA crown, he would become the oldest major championship winner in history, eclipsing by a year Julius Boros, who was 48 when he won the 1968 PGA.
Many in Friday's field took their hats off to Singh.
"I'm not sure what course Vijay was playing today," said Rickie Fowler, after his 80. "That is impressive."
Woods had one of the five sub-par rounds at one-under 71, while Poulter, who shared the lead briefly after making a bird at 16, closed with a bogey at the 18th to fall into second place alone.
Pettersson began his afternoon round with the outright lead at six-under-par, got it briefly to minus-seven, but made three bogeys in his last four holes to fall back into a share.
"I hit some squirrely shots which is typical when it's blowing 30 miles an hour, but I hit some really good ones, too," Pettersson said. "It's just very difficult to get any rhythm in the round of hitting fairways and greens and my short game was good, which was nice on days like this.
Pettersson said he drew some inspiration from Singh's round, which was already in the books when Pettersson teed off.
"It gives you some hope, I guess, before you go out there," he said. "Days like today, you really can't have any expectations going out there. You've just got to grind away. You know it's going to be difficult."
And it was, with more grinding expected Saturday and Sunday.