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Mickelson & Horschel Share Clubhouse Lead in U.S. Open
Though not everyone completed their second rounds in the 113th U.S. Open, first-round leader Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel did. America's national golf championship is still trying to catch up because of several delays due to bad weather Thursday.
That should happen Saturday morning, when those who need to complete their second rounds will do so prior to the start of the third round.
When the dust settled at a sunny - a welcome forecast for the weekend - East Course at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., Mickelson and Horschel were the clubhouse leaders.
Mickelson, a four-time major winner still in search of his first U.S. Open title, followed up his opening 3-under 67 with a 72. After carding three bogeys through 17 holes, the 42-year-old finally had a birdie on the par-4 18th when he sank a long putt that tied for the lead with Horschel, who finished earlier in the day.
Horschel's scores were the same as Mickelson's, though they came on different days. In matching Mickelson for the low round of the tournament, the 26-year-old Floridian hit all 18 greens in regulation Friday, the first time that's happened in the past 15 U.S. Opens.
"I've acquired some patience," Horschel said of a problem that led to troubles when he contended in the past. "I just think that the older I get, the more mature I get on the golf course . . . I'm just going to think about trying to execute every golf shot from here on in for the next 36 holes. If I can do that, we'll see what happens on Sunday."
The two leaders are only the two players under par at what is a relatively short - under-7,000-yard - layout that was expected to yield low scores.
Mickelson doesn't believe any player will overwhelm Merion this week. "I don't know how anyone is going to separate too far from the field," he told PGATour.com about what he anticipates will be a dogfight for the next two days. "There might be a hot round tomorrow and they might get a hot round on Sunday, but it's unlikely to be the same player."
Sharing third at even-par 140 on the par-70 East Course are Luke Donald, Steve Stricker (69) and Justin Rose (69). Also at even-par are another Englishman, Ian Poulter - who's 1-under through 14 holes, and amateur Cheng Tsung Pan.
Pan, a Taiwan native and junior-to-be on the University of Washington golf team, had two birdies through nine holes before darkness put an end to his round.
Donald followed up his opening 68 with a 72. "I would love to be a couple better, but certainly I think come the end of round two, I'm going to be in a good place," the 35-year-old Englishman told PGATour.com.
Sitting at 1-over par in what's shaping up to be a tense shootout over the weekend are Australia's John Senden (71), Belgium long-hitter Nicolas Colsaerts (72), Charley Hoffman (even-par through 13 holes), Jerry Kelly (1-over through 12) and amateur Michael Kim (2-under through 11).
Sharing 13th at 2-over are Matthew Goggin of Australia (74), South Africa's Charl Schwartzel (2-over through 16), Hunter Mahan (even through 15) and Sweden's Henrik Stenson (2-under through 12).
Seeking his first major - and the 15th of his storied career - since the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, No. 1-ranked Tiger Woods followed up his opening 73 with an even-par 70. His card showed three birdies and a like number of bogeys.
He's at 3-over with five other players, including playing partner Rory McIlroy, who also carded a 70, Ernie Els (72), Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72), Matt Bettencourt (71) and Aussie Jason Day (3-over through 14).
Woods said later that the USGA made the pins tough to offset Merion's soft fairways, which were deluged with several inches of rain prior to the start of the championship. "They've really tried to, I think, protect the golf course, with it being as soft as it is," he said. "And they've given us some really, really tough pins."
Woods grimaced several times during the second round, particularly when hitting out of the thick, wet rough. He later revealed the pain stemmed from an injury to his left elbow which he first suffered at the Players Championship. But the hurt won't force the player, who gutted out a severely damaged knee and 91 holes at Torrey five years ago, to pull out. "It is what it is," he said of the problem.
For the second straight day, Woods was in the marquee pairing with No. 2 McIlroy and Masters' champion Adam Scott, who carded a 75.
McIlroy, the 2011 U.S. Open champion at Congressional, is in good shape heading into the weekend, while Scott, at 7-over 147, is right on the projected cut line.
"I was a little disappointed with the way I played today," Scott told PGATour.com. "Like I said, I just lost my rhythm early this morning when it was a bit cold and windy and just fought with it all day long and the putter kind of cooled off. So I would have liked to make some putts and then you're always happy."
Because the whole field didn't complete their second rounds, the cut will be established Saturday morning after everyone finishes 36 holes. On Friday night, the projected cut was 7-over 147. Among those at 8-over or more and possibly heading home are former major champions Martin Kaymer, Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley, David Toms, Graeme McDowell, Lucas Glover, Darren Clarke, Angel Cabrera, Jose Maria Olazabal and Jim Furyk.
After opening with a 75, Louis Oosthuizen withdrew from the championship before the start of the second round. The reason cited by the 30-year-old South African, who won the 2010 British Open, was an unspecified injury.
For all the scores, visit http://www.majorschampionships.com/us-open/leaderboard.html.