SAN FRANCISCO – As the first two rounds of the 112th U.S. Open have shown, positive progress requires a two-step formula of survive and conquer.
Tiger Woods patiently dealt with the fast and often ferocious Lake Course, using birdies on Nos. 10 and 13 to card an even-par 70 second round and grab a share of the 36-hole lead with Jim Furyk and David Toms on Friday.
“Well, that was not easy,” Woods said, content – considering the circumstances – with the round of 70. “That golf course is some kind of quick. It was tough. It was really tough. If the wind wasn’t blowing it wouldn’t have been so bad.
“I just had to stay as patient as possible and I did a good job of that today.”
Round 2 sent the players through the ringer once more. But Woods’ patience paid off on the front nine, as he endured a string of potentially round-debilitating bogeys at Nos. 5, 6 and 7 that dropped the three-time U.S. Open champion to 2-over for the day and 1-over overall.
“It was a tough little stretch, but I figured there were a lot of holes left,” Woods said. “Being patient is something we have to do at Majors. You have to stay patient, got to stay present, and you’re just playing for a lot of pars.”
Woods regrouped, and after getting back to even with a birdie on No. 10, he drained a birdie at the 13th moved him into the red again at 1-under.
He missed a golden opportunity to get to 2-under, sliding a 12-foot putt just wide of the cup on the short par-5 17th. He played an up and down from the bunker on 18 to get into the clubhouse.
“Even though I didn’t miss a shot in the last three holes, I ended up with three pars. But it was just one of those days where you just had to be so patient.”
Furyk partnered an opening-round 70 with a 1-under 69 (three birdies, two bogeys) on Friday.
“…I played very beautifully on the front and was able to make a couple birdies on the way in and get it to 1 under today,” Furyk said.
Toms (69, 70) withstood a 2-over opening nine holes and played the back nine at 2-under to claim his piece of the lead.
“I was fortunate to make a couple birdies there on the back nine and just hung on after that and had a nice round of even par, which (I) certainly would have taken that when the day started,” Toms said. “I’m pretty confident that I can play the golf course well. But you still have to go out and execute, and I’ve done that for a couple days.”
But while Woods, Toms and Furyk managed to navigate the twists and turns of Olympic and the ebbs and flows of their rounds, it wasn’t uncommon to see players shaking their heads in pure puzzlement.
Among some of the notable names to miss the cut: Defending champion Rory McIlroy (+10), Stewart Cink (+12), the world’s No. 1-ranked Luke Donald (+11), this year’s Masters champion Bubba Watson (+9) Geoff Ogilvy (+10), Casey Martin (+9) and Dustin Johnson (+9).
Phil Mickelson, who was grouped with Watson and Woods, made birdie on No. 18 to guarantee himself the weekend. Mickelson is 7-over, which ended up being the cut number, for the tournament.
“I barely made the cut,” Mickelson said. “My goal was to shoot under par. I had multiple chances and I was fractionally off on the greens. I just didn’t make any until the last putt.”
Seventeen-year-old amateur Beau Hossler out of Mission Viejo caused a stir early in the day. Starting on the back nine, Hossler made eight pars to begin the round. Two birdies in three holes put him into the lead at 2-under. However, the young American struggled coming home and finished with a 73. He is 3-over for the championship and tied for ninth.
“I felt I was getting into a little bit of a zone,” Hossler said. “Unfortunately, I kind of lost it coming in. I was able to salvage (a birdie) on (No.) 7 with that chip in, but it was pretty solid overall. Just really glad to get it to 2-under through 10 holes.”
Michael Thompson, who led after the first round at 4-under, shot a 5-over 75 and is one of four players who are ate 1-over for the tournament. That list includes the 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell.
If anything else, Saturday and Sunday will be excruciatingly frustrating and exciting all at once.
The microscope will be on Woods, naturally. He hasn’t won a Major since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, but appears to have his swing under control and has navigated the Olympic Club with a certain precision. The crowds are definitely on his side, too.
“I like (being in the lead.) It’s a wonderful place to be,” Woods said.
Check out some of the notes taken during the second round here.
View the full leaderboard here.