16th June, 2012
Tiger Woods wrested an even-par 70 from an unforgiving Olympic Club course on Friday to seize a share of the US Open second-round lead alongside Jim Furyk and David Toms.
On a day when the testing conditions saw names rise and fall on the leaderboard in the blink of an eye, with even 17-year-old amateur Beau Hossler briefly taking the solo lead, it was a trio of battle-tested veterans who topped the leaderboard on 139 — the one-under total making them the only players under par after two rounds.
Woods, of course, is a 14-time major champion, while Furyk won the 2003 US Open and Toms won the 2001 USPGA Championship.
Olympic’s Lake Course, with its small, sloping greens firming up minute by minute in the sunshine and crisp breezes of the afternoon, made Woods work for the share of the lead he regained after birdies at the 10th and 13th.
At the par-five 16th, he saved par from a bunker, where he popped out to about 15 feet despite an awkward stance.
At the par-five 17th, his approach rolled like a rocket through the green and down a steep bank at the back.
He spun his third shot up to about 10 feet and two-putted for par.
At 18 he was again in the fairway, but from there found the front greenside bunker. He blasted out and made his par-saving putt.
“That was not easy,” Woods said. “Just had to stay as patient as possible and I did a really good job of that today.”
Furyk made his way methodically around the 7,170-yard course to a one-under 69, while Toms posted a 70.
“I feel good about the score,” Furyk said. “I kept the ball in the fairway pretty well… I feel solid and in control so far.”
Furyk, who teed off on nine, rattled in a putt at the par-four seventh for the last of his three birdies on the day.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, winner of the US Open at nearby Pebble Beach two years ago, led the group sharing fourth place, two strokes back on one-over 141.
Playing alongside Furyk, McDowell moved as low as two-under but bogeyed three of his last four holes for a two-over 72.
“That’s what this golf course can do to you in a heartbeat,” McDowell said.
McDowell was joined at one-over by Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, the Volvo World Match Play Champion who carded a 69, American John Peterson (70) and overnight leader Michael Thompson, who surrendered his lead with a bogey and double-bogey at his third and fourth holes — the 11th and 12th — and finished with two double-bogeys in a 75.
McDowell, a fan of testing US Open conditions, said the course was fast, fair but certainly no fun.
“My day was as equally un-enjoyable as yesterday,” he said. “It’s just a brutal test of golf.”
Woods, seeking his first major title since he hobbled to a playoff victory at the 2008 US Open, sent a jolt of electricity around the course when he jumped to the top of the leaderboard with a birdie at the par-three third.
But he strung together three straight bogeys from the fifth, his approach at the sixth hanging up in dense rough on the lip of a bunker and leaving him an awkward shot out.
After finding a bunker at the 288-yard par-four seventh, Woods ended up three-putting for a costly bogey on a hole that should have offered a birdie chance.
“I knew that pin was dicey,” Woods said of the seventh. “The practice rounds I had run that putt by… and I still missed it on the low side and it ran out and I missed the second putt.”
Woods moved back to one-under after birdies at 10 and 13.
His mis-cues on the front nine had opened the door for Hossler, who followed a birdie at 18 with a rare birdie at the 520-yard, par-four first to move atop the leaderboard.
Whether it was the excitement of seeing his name up there or the sheer difficulty of the course, the California high school student promptly bogeyed the second, and added a double bogey at the fourth.
His three-over 73 gave him a share of ninth, all the more impressive given the elite names that were laid low by the Lake Course.
Four-time major champion Phil Mickelson did enough, a birdie at 18 giving him a 71 for seven-over 147.
Masters champion Bubba Watson had two birdies in the last four holes for a 71, but that left him at nine-over, one outside the cut line.
England’s Luke Donald, the world number one who topped both the US and European tour money lists last season, was headed home after following a first-round 79 with a 72 for an 11-over total of 151.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy carded a 73 for 150, finding the hillside course a world away from the rain-softened Congressional layout where he marched to a record-setting US Open triumph last year.