The Australian, Stuart Appleby, leads the 108th US Open at the halfway stage, but it should be quite a weekend, because there are a number of players hard on his heels, most notably the number one in the world, Tiger Woods.
Woods, despite nursing his left knee, shot a 3-under-par 68. Starting on the 10th, he got off to a slow start playing his front nine in 2-over-par. But, he then treated the huge galleries to some typical Woods magic, making birdies on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 9th, to come home in 5-under-par 30. That is an extraordinary achievement, especially playing in the afternoon as he was, because the greens were very hard and bumpy. But, he drove the ball immaculately, and sank everything he looked at. In fact, if he hadn’t left his 20-foot putt in the jaws of the hole on the par-3 3rd, he would have had five birdies in five holes.
And the first of these birdies at his 10th (the 1st) was set up with an extraordinary shot from behind a tree on the right of the fairway.
“I’m in great shape,” he said afterwards. “You’ve just got to be incredibly patient out there, because this is a US Open and the pins are incredibly tough.
But, Woods won’t have everything his own way, and the American Rocco Mediate is tied with him in second place on 2-under par. Mediate led the 2006 Masters with 10 holes to play before his approach to the 9th hit the pin, his back gave out and he gave up. He will be hoping for better things at the weekend.
“It’s going to be crazy at the weekend, but that’s how I like it,” he said. “I don’t have too many of these sort of chances left, so I hope I can make the most of it. Asked if he could win, he smiled and said: “I think I can. I’ll certainly give it a shot.”
Also on 2-under is the Swede, Robert Karlsson, who is putting together another incredibly solid season. In his last four tournaments he has had two 3rds and a 2nd, and whatever happens this weekend, looks assured of a place in the Ryder Cup team. Surprisingly perhaps, few know who he is on this side of the Atlantic, and in his four previous US Opens, he has missed the cut in three of them and finished tied for 45th in the other.
Asked what he would say if people asked who he was on the leaderboard, Robert Karlsson replied “a tall Swede”. He admitted he is playing with a bit of jet lag at the moment, so he doesn’t expect to have problems going to sleep despite his position on the leaderboard.
139 (3-under-par) Stuart Appleby
140 Rocco Mediate, Robert Karlsson, Tiger Woods
141 D.J. Trahan, Davis Love III, Lee Westwood
142 Luke Donald, Robert Allenby, Geoff Ogilvy, Ernie Els
Other notable scores:
143 Oliver Wilson
145 Padraig Harrington, Martin Kaymer, Jim Furyk
146 Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson
148 Ross McGowan
Missed the cut:
149 Paul Casey, Alastair Forsyth
151 Ross Fisher
155 Nick Dougherty
156 Ernie Els
159 Philip Archer
165 Gary Wolstenholme