June 15, 2013

Mickelson, Horschel lead after Day 2 at U.S. Open

The two players are under par but dozens more have a chance on a tough-to-beat course in a backlogged event.

The Associated Press

ARDMORE, Pa. — Phil Mickelson made his first birdie on his last putt. Billy Horschel never missed a green. It was all they could do to barely break par against Merion, which is turning out to be the real star of this U.S. Open.

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Phil Mickelson is tied for the clubhouse lead at 1 under, but 68 players didn’t get their second round finished before darkness arrived. And for those who did finish, the U.S. Open course proved tough to beat.

Photos by The Associated Press

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Billy Horschel had as consistent a second round as a golfer could want Friday, hitting all 18 greens in regulation and finishing with a 67 to tie Phil Mickelson for the clubhouse lead.

Additional Photos Below

LEADERBOARD

(Golfers who completed second round)

Tied at the top

Horschel 72-67--139

Mickelson. 67-72--139

One back

Donald 68-72--140

Stricker 71-69--140

Rose 71-69--140

Notable

Woods 73-70--143

McIlroy 73-70--143

Els 71-72--143

Simpson 71-75--146

Westwood 70-77--147

Scott 72-75--147

Watson 71-76--147

NOTE: 68 players did not finish the second round

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Nearly half the field did not finish the second round when it was suspended by darkness. Moments after the horn sounded to stop play, Mickelson opted to finish his round and drilled a 20-foot birdie putt for a 2-over 72. That gave him a share of the clubhouse lead with Horschel, who made it as easy as possible by hitting every green in regulation for a 67.

They were at 1-under 139.

Even with the round not finished, it was becoming clear that this U.S. Open might be up for grabs until the very end. Tiger Woods, who grimaced with every shot out of the rough because of pain in his left elbow, was at 3-over 143 and still very much in the game.

"I don't know how anyone is going to separate too far from the field," Mickelson said. "There might be a hot round tomorrow, and they might get a hot round on Sunday, but unlikely to be the same player."

No one was hotter than Horschel, playing in his first U.S. Open since he was a 19-year-old in college.

Nothing is tougher than Merion, the little course in the tony suburbs of Philadelphia that even in rain-softened conditions is showing plenty of might. And to think there was chatter at the start of the week about the potential for the first 62 in major championship history.

"Perhaps next time you guys will believe when we say it's really not that easy that it's really not that easy," Geoff Ogilvy said after a 70. That put him at 4-over 144, which gave him and dozens of others a legitimate shot going into the weekend.

Luke Donald (72), Justin Rose (69) and Steve Stricker (69) were at even-par 140.

The surprise were a pair of amateurs — Michael Kim of Cal and Cheng-Tsung Pan of Taiwan. They were 2 under for their round and among those who didn't finish.

The long day, brought on by storm delays on Thursday, began with cool conditions and patches of light rain that eventually gave way to sunshine. That led players to wonder how much tougher Merion will be once it starts to dry out.

"It's not as easy as people think," defending champion Webb Simpson said after a 75 put him six shots behind the clubhouse lead. "I heard 15, 16 under floating around. And it's going to be a normal U.S. Open winning score, I think."

Horschel hit all 18 greens in regulation, a stellar achievement at a regular tour event, let alone the U.S. Open. It sent USGA officials searching for hours to find the last time anyone failed to miss a green in the toughest test in golf. Records of that detail only go back as far as 1989. That last documentation of someone doing that was Johnny Miller when he closed with a 63 at Oakmont to win in 1973.

David Graham used his putter on every hole — three from the fringe — when he shot 67 to win the 1981 U.S. Open at Merion.

"I didn't know I hit every green until I walked off 18," Horschel said. "It's a cool thing. But like I said, it's not the first time I've hit all 18 greens. I've done it plenty of times in my career. Obviously, it's at a U.S. Open, but I think the softness of the greens helped that."

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Additional Photos

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Tiger Woods reacts after a shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club on Friday in Ardmore, Pa.

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Phil Mickelson hits out of a bunker during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club on Friday.

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Keegan Bradley hits from a muddy path on the 12th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., on Friday.

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Phil Mickelson hits down the fifth hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club on Friday in Ardmore, Pa.

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Phil Mickelson, left, and Steve Stricker walk to the ninth green Friday.

 


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