(Reuters) - American Dustin Johnson was metaphorically bruised and battered by brutal windswept conditions at the Wells Fargo Championship on Friday, slipping five strokes from the lead in the weather-delayed second round in North Carolina.
Four weeks after being literally bruised by a fall that cost him participation in the Masters, the elements went to work on world number one Johnson at Eagle Point in Wilmington.
He dropped two strokes in 13 holes to end the day equal 46th at even par, within sight of the leaders but not completely assured of making the cut, which is likely to fall at one-over when the round is completed early Saturday.
Johnson, back in action after five weeks off, is seeking to win in his fourth consecutive start.
He was among 68 players unable to complete the round after morning thunderstorms delayed the start of play by three hours. Competition will resume at 7.30 a.m. local time (1130 GMT).
Skies cleared but gave way to strong, gusty winds that left most players in survival mode.
Irishman Seamus Power (71) and American Billy Hurley III (69) had the clubhouse lead at five-under 139, while Italian Francesco Molinari (11 holes) and American John Peterson (12) were also five-under, one stroke ahead of a group including Spanish duo Jon Rahm and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
Power, a 30-year-old PGA Tour rookie from Waterford, was asked whether he had played well in the wind because of his background growing up near the coast.
“Here it’s much tougher when the wind blows like this,” the 2016 Olympian told reporters. “A lot of links golf you can at least run (the ball in to the green) and you don’t have to worry about landing it the perfect distance.
“It was tough to judge the wind. It’s swirling all over the place and it’s awfully strong. And greens like this that are firm and fast, you slightly get a gust the wrong way and all of a sudden you’ve missed the green in the wrong spot or you’re 40-50 feet away and really struggling.
“Every hole you can drop a shot on very quickly if you’re out of position, so overall pretty pleased.”
Co-leader Hurley was thrilled to sink a 10-foot par putt at his final hole.
“I’ve finished poorly in a lot of rounds of golf in the last month or so, so that was really big for me,” he said.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Larry Fine