US Open Championship Blog - Friday


10.00pm It didn't look too promising on Thursday but the European challenge is looking stronger. Miguel Angel Jimenez put in the lowest round of the week, a ridiculously good 66 to move into joint second with Robert Karlsson. Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are both looking very solid just behind and even Padraig and Sergio are still in it. With ten Euros within seven of the halfway lead, wouldn't it be fantastic for one of our guys to nab a US Open in Ryder Cup year. History is against them but it can still be made! Its been a long and memorable day and I will reflect on it over a cool beer or three hopefully followed by a good night's sleep! Like many of the international players, I've been suffering badly with jetlag and combined with a few hairy nights, its been a wild and tiring week. Am I complaining? Not a chance!

7.15pm Wow, wow, wow! The tournament comes alight, mostly thanks to the main man, Tiger Woods. Sore knee, rusty swing, lack of match fitness or not, he has found a way yet again to thrill the crowds, shoot an incredible 30 on his back nine and get himself back into the thick of it and contend for his 14th major championship win. I've soaked it up along with over 20 thousand fans and will be sharing my experience of walking in the ropes alongside a sporting legend in my Saturday blog. It's been a thoroughly fascinating and exciting day and one thing is for sure, the 108th US Open is primed to be a real classic.

1.00pm Right off to watch the big boys! I'm absolutely fascinated to see how Mickelson gets on without a driver around a 7,600 yard plus golf course - the longest in US Open history by over 370 yards! It sounds incredible, ridiculous, perhaps even foolish but he knows what he's doing. It didn't seem to bother him yesterday in an impressive level par 71 to edge a shot ahead of you know who. Not sure if I'd fancy it though, even if you hit your three wood well its good to know that the big dog is in there.

So, the feet are strapped, the stomach is filled, lets go watch the best players in the world. I can't wait to get back and report on the experience and hope you enjoy watching it on Sky (I'm in the blue shirt!) Don't expect me back anytime soon however, the pace of play has been deadly slow and there probably won't be much change out of six hours. Shocking but true... 

12.45pm Bit of news flying about on Ian Poulter...he's walked off the course under some confusion. After a few bad holes and dropping to a very poor 14 over he's tried to backhand the ball in with his putter and missed. Shortly afterwards he told his playing partners Casey and Donald he'd injured his wrist and pulled out with three holes to play. When I arrived earlier today I walked with their group for a hole and they all looked happy and were having a good day so this is a real surprise. Not a great week for Poults.

11.45am So what is it like to get media access at a US Open? Very cool! An inside the ropes pass is priceless and I get to see what clubs the guys are using, the actual shot they face from a much better angle and also to get a sense how it is for them to play on such a tough course under pressure with the world watching. Okay, it also helps to avoid all the crowds and crossing points! Being able to wander on the practice areas and see up close how they're striking it is really fantastic. I was watching Padriag hitting incredibly good short bunker shots using huge full swings and slicing under the ball getting them to fly high and land soft, it was really impressive stuff. Big shame he shot 78 yesterday and he'll need something around level par to make the weekend. My early prediction is that 9 over par will be the cut line and that shows how brutal it is. The talk is that the sun will dry out the greens more and make them even harder to play to and putt on. Combined with the course length, the weekend could get very tasty and please you sadist golf viewers!

Inside the huge media centre itself, we get very welcome air con to keep us cool away from the hot and sticky sun. Everything we need is here to keep us in touch with the tournament: huge scoreboards detailing all the hole scores for every player, live feeds and an impressive interview room attached. There's a nice big canteen too with some tasty if typically unhealthy american options to stuff our faces with. Judging by the shapes of some seasoned hacks, I think the canteen is a popular spot. In fact, its about that time of the day so I'll go and build some energy for the battle ahead.

10.30am The atmosphere is definitely up today, during the afternoon yesterday there was a lull, mainly due to the lack of birdies. The course is so difficult the players simply try to plot their way around and not make big numbers. As recent Masters have proved, this doesn't help build the buzz a really great tournament needs. I just have a feeling that this afternoon will see this event take-off and if Tiger and Phil are in contention (as I hope and expect them to be) the weekend is going to be a blast! Luke Donald is still going well and my pick Ogilvy still looks extremely solid.

9.30am Finally made it through the ever-expanding crowd to rest my battered feet. This job is definitely not one for the blister-prone. Yep, that would be me. Even my snazzy new adidas Powerband Sport golf shoes couldn't protect me from the onslaught of this Torrey Pines course yesterday. The course is spread over a really wide area and it took an hour to walk from the main entrance all the way over to the media centre. Ouch. Anyway, players are out on the course and I'm gearing up for the main event later today - a full 18 holes with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott. The galleries following them yesterday were huge and judging by the crowds already here today, its going to truly immense. Maybe the biggest ever Major crowd following one group? Watching Tiger up close against his arch enemy in the US Open is going to be one of the thrills of my life and I can't wait to get out there at 1.36pm (9.36pm back home)