Last Updated on Saturday, 16 June 2012 00:24
Friday, 15 June 2012 23:02
Wily Veterans Top Leaderboard At U.S. Open, Ames Makes Cut With Birdie At 18
by Alfie Lau
For about an hour on Friday, a brash young teenager named Beau Hossler led the US Open.
But reality is a hard lesson at all ages and the 17-year-old had three bogeys and a double bogey in the torturous stretch from 1 to 6 to fall back to the pack.
That meant the top of the leaderboard after Friday's second round is filled with wily veterans like Jim Furyk, David Toms and yes, Tiger Woods.
The three oldtimers – compared to Hossler and 14-year-old qualifier Andy Zhang – are at (-1), the only players under par.
Furyk had a laugh at the media's expense when he was referred to as a mid-40s veteran. "My early '40s, damn it, 42," he said with a big smile on his face.
"I realize that, at 42, the window's not wide open any more. … I have a lot more good years behind me than I probably do ahead of me, but I still fell like I've got some game."
Well, all Furyk needs is a couple more days of game and he'll have his second U.S. Open title and second Major. David Toms is a mirror image of Furyk.
Toms' Major came at the 2001 PGA and while he's never lauded for being great at any one aspect of the game, his name always comes up when players are asked who's most consistent player on the tour.
He's so underappreciated that his post-round press conference was attended, in whole, by three people. I was one of those three – as was TSN's Bob Weeks – but it says something about the sport that if Tiger Woods isn't around, nobody cares.
No matter, a happy Toms said one of the best things about shooting a 70 to go with his opening round 69 was, "I can sleep in a little bit" on Saturday.
He said he played a solid day of golf, keeping his ball in the middle of the fairway and he was just taking what the firm, but fair course was giving him.
If I hadn't talked to Furyk hours earlier, I would have sworn that was exactly what Toms' doppelganger had said. OK, that's a lot from the two co-leaders that nobody cares about.
TIger Woods is the straw that stirs golf's drinks and he shot a pedestrian 70 to go with his 69 and he's in position to capture his first Major in four years, his first since the US Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego in 2008.
"I think I'm in a good spot," Woods said of being in a tie for the lead. "Looking forward to (Saturday) and going off late tomorrow, so get some good rest."
Hmm, for those of you who don't think Tiger, at 36, is getting old, read that comment and compare it to Toms. A younger Tiger would literally be catting it out on Market Street or Fisherman's Wharf in his younger non-married (and married) days. (Sorry, gratuitous cheap shot, but hey, the truth shall set us all free!)
Tiger overcame three straight bogeys at 5, 6 and 7 and had three birdies for the day to play a U.S. Open round that people would pay a lot of money for.
Woods will be in the final group of the day with Furyk and there's not only a healthy respect, but a genuine liking that Woods has for the soft-spoken Furyk.
"I've always admired how he manoeuvred his way around the golf course," said Woods.
"That's one of the reasons why we were such great partners together in the Cups is that we think alike. I just hit the ball further. … Of all the guys who were on that team at U of A (Arizona), for him to have come out and had this career that he's had, it's just a testament to his hard work and his work ethic."
Hmm, can you imagine Woods saying the same about Mickelson? All you have to do is change U of A to Arizona State and it would be exactly the same thing, right?
Friday night is a day everybody gets punchy in the media centre because there's always a lot to do and so many storylines.
On the Canadian side of the ledger, Stephen Ames made birdie on the 18th to finish with a 73 to go with his opening round 74.
Ames admitted he didn't play great on Friday, but he did score just well enough to earn another two days at Olympic. "You couldn't get yourself into position to make birdie putts, just due to the places they put pins," said Ames. "They were protecting par, but it's a U.S. Open, and they're going to do that."
Ames was disconcerted with fans running behind the sixth green as his group of TIm Herron and Joe Ogilvie were about to hit and he wasn't pleased with how many people were following the Woods group.
Ames said tournament organizers should be cognizant there are 155 other golfers on the course and perhaps it's time to think out of the box, perhaps allowing people to see Woods for select holes and other people to see him on the other holes.
Mickelson also thinks out of the box and he made the cut by making birdie at 18 just minutes before Ames. "It's tough to shoot even on the front, but I feel like there's a three-under, a four-under par out there (on the back) for somebody tomorrow morning," said Mickelson.
This coming from a guy who shot 76, 71!
Mickelson can also make us laugh, as he pointed out that he couldn't focus on the leaderboard Friday. "I haven't really looked at the leaderboard. I've been more on the cut line," said Lefty.
There hasn't been a lot of drama over the first two days here at the Olympic Club, but that may be because the USGA is still smarting from the great score Rory McIlroy put up in last year's U.S. Open at Congressional.
Protecting par is back at a top priority and the players are out slugging the best they can. That means the weekend will probably have lots of drama because so many players are so close to the lead.
Missing the cut were world numbers 1 and 2, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, along with the 14-year-old Zhang.
Since it's Friday night in San Francisco, I'm off to have a little bit of fun. But not too much because I will be a scheduled guest on a Northern California radio golf show at 8:10 a.m. Saturday. Yup, it's tough being a golf writer in demand!
By Alfie Lau
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