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SAN FRANCISCO: Tiger Woods regained a share of the U.S. Open lead in a second round of rapidly changing fortunes.
Woods birdied three of five holes to move into a tie with David Toms and clubhouse leader Jim Furyk at 1 under with three holes to play. Furyk carded a 1-under 69 on Friday morning. Toms had five holes left.
Woods held a one-shot lead earlier in the round before three straight bogeys sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. That’s when 17-year-old qualifier Beau Hossler made birdie putts on two of three holes to briefly take the lead.
Then Hossler dropped three shots on two holes, including a double on the par-4 fourth with a tee shot that landed between the towering cypress trees that clog the undulating Lake Course’s tight, twisting fairways.
Hossler’s last birdie came on the par-4 first — which played tougher than any hole on the course in the opening round — and had the gallery roaring for somebody other than Woods. He was 2 under through 11 holes and the championship with eight to play, seemingly ready to become the next out-of-nowhere leader until it all unfolded.
Michael Thompson, who held a three-shot lead after the opening round, was 6 over through 15 holes. The 27-year-old was a 2007 U.S. Amateur runner-up at Olympic and is playing in his first U.S. Open as a pro.
Top-ranked Luke Donald and defending champion Rory McIlroy were likely going to miss the cut in what would be swift and stunning exits.
Donald came to the U.S. Open with six wins in the past 18 months, more than any other player. Last year, the 34-year-old Englishman pulled off an unprecedented feat by topping the money lists on both the PGA and European tours.
Now he’ll probably miss the weekend for the third time in nine U.S. Open starts.
Donald followed his birdie-free 79 — which even 14-year-old qualifier Andy Zhang matched Thursday — with a less erratic second round. He had five bogeys and three birdies to card a 72, leaving him at an eye-popping 11 under and still without a major.
“That’s the one part of my golfing resume in the last few years, especially, that I need to continually address and continually improve,” Donald said. “I want to win one more than any of you guys know.”
McIlroy’s slide might be even more startling.
He mixed five bogeys — including one on his final hole — with a pair of birdies for a second-round 73. The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland shattered U.S. Open records last June at rain-softened Congressional, finishing at 268 to break the 72-hole record by four shots, and his 16-under total was four better than Woods’ mark at Pebble Beach in 2000.
What a pushover that course turned out to be.
Olympic Club has fully restored “golf’s toughest test.”
The fast and fickle fairways had most of the field hacking out of rough and digging into sand for shots. Others searched for balls in the colossal cypress trees or pushed putts all over the rock-hard greens.
After a near flawless opening-round 69, 14-time major champion Woods finally felt Olympic’s wrath. While he holed a putt from about 6 feet on three to take the lead, giving a light fist pump and bringing a quiet crowd with all these bogeys from the field roaring to its feet, the good emotions didn’t last.
Woods put his approach in the bunker on the fifth and pushed his putt from about three feet to settle for bogey. On the sixth, he dropped his iron after watching his approach land in the thick rough on the down-hill slop around a bunker.
Woods hacked out of the grass with a choked-up grip, putted with a 3 woods from the fringe and dropped another shot. He also landed in the far bunker on the short par-4 seventh and three-putted a third straight bogey.
The difference between Woods and everybody else is that he rallied back.
The U.S. Golf Association decided this year to eliminate the 10-shot rule in which players within 10 strokes of the lead make the cut. Starting at this year’s championship, the cut will be the top 60 and ties.
The cut line started was at 5 over or better when the first morning groups finished. In all likelihood, it will be at least 7 over.
USGA executive director Mike Davis said the idea behind the new rule was to limit the number of players making the cut — 108 did so Oakland Hills in 1996 — and prevent slow play that could perhaps force a two-tee start in threesomes.-- AP