Friday's Birdies and Bogeys

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Friday's Birdies and Bogeys

June 13, 2013

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Tiger WoodsHe played 25 holes on Friday but by the end Woods looked like he had played closer to 100. The reasons were many: Merion. An ailing elbow. The general stress of going after his 15th major. At least through 36 trying holes here, that remains a realistic goal. Though clearly struggling through an elbow injury sustained at the Players, Woods persisted on a day when many other players faltered. At three over after an even-par 70 in the second round, Woods continued to move up the leader board as the day went on. And even with the elbow, he didn't hesitate to provide a resounding affirmative when asked if he liked his chances.

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Bogey: Phil MickelsonThe adrenaline rush of his wild cross-country adventure was bound to wear off, but Mickelson at least rallied enough to end a trying day tied for the lead through 36 holes. In his one-over 73, Mickelson didn't make a birdie until the final hole, even though he had a number of opportunities from close range. The good news is he's still very much in contention for that elusive U.S. Open title. But as if he needed any reminder, he knows it's not going to be easy.

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Birdie: Billy HorschelWhile everyone around him struggled, the 26-year-old made Merion -- at least from tee to green -- look easy. Horschel became the first player to hit all 18 greens in regulation in a U.S. Open round in 15 years. This may be his first national championship as a pro, but his performance certainly isn't a fluke. Horschel picked up his first PGA Tour win at the Zurich Classic in April and he has a history of going low in USGA events. While a member of the University of Florida golf team, he shot a first-round 60 on his way to medalist honors at the 2006 U.S. Amateur at Hazeltine.

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Bogey: Adam ScottAnd it all started so well. After completing play on Thursday just a shot off the lead, the Masters champion saw his Open unravel on Friday. He completed his first round with three bogeys and a double, then shot 75 over his next 18. Struggling with the difficult hole locations, Scott failed to execute on a number of par saves, and never recovered. "I got off on the wrong foot and just struggled to find my rhythm all day," Scott said. "That's what can happen if you're just a little bit off."

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Birdie: Rory McIlroyMcIlroy has acknowledged a need to be a little tougher -- even his two major wins were on weeks when things were clicking from the start. This Open would certainly be different, and while McIlroy still has plenty of work ahead of him, his opening two rounds were evidence of a player not being disheartened by the occasional misstep. After a brutal end to his second round, where he bogeyed three of his last four holes, McIlroy answered with a 70 in arguably the day's toughest conditions. Even more encouraging is a player who has struggled with his putting all year has shown increased confidence on the greens this week.

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Bogey: Open SetupRight, we get it. It's great to see Merion still has some teeth left in it. But it's not so great when it borders on trickery. As a defense against soft conditions, the USGA put hole locations on a number of ridges and shelves, making it difficult for players to land the ball close, and just as tough to make any putts. Throw in your typical USGA mix of narrow fairways and dense rough, and charming, old-school Merion risks being lumped in with every other stern Open layout. Really, would a few red numbers be so bad?

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Birdie: Steve StrickerSemi-retirement has its benefits. For a player who had limited success in major championships when playing full-time, the 46-year-old Stricker finds himself with arguably his best chance in a season when he's scaled back his schedule. At even par through 36 holes, Stricker's appearance on the leader board at Merion makes sense, though: the course doesn't require overpowering length, and the difficult pin placements put a premium on mid-range putting. That doesn't guarantee he can hold up on what will surely be a difficult weekend. But Stricker's at least given himself the chance to find out.

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Birdie: The EnglishWe've seen these guys be major factors in recent European Ryder Cup victories, but in individual majors? Not so much. Yet through two days, three Brits are right near the top of the leader board at Merion. Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter were all tied for third when play was suspended due to darkness. Each still have a long way to go to end England's drought in majors dating back to Nick Faldo's win at the 1996 Masters, but with three players in the mix, the country's odds of winning a U.S. Open are looking pretty decent.

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Bogey: Lee WestwoodA three under start on Thursday had many uttering "Is it his time?" But after a disastrous Friday, Westwood has a lot of ground to make up. The 40-year-old searching for his first major championship title managed a first-round 70, but shot a second-round 77 to drop well back. It looks like he'll make the cut, but he'll be much lower down the leader board than Webb Simpson was last year (T-29) when he set a U.S. Open record with his 36-hole comeback.

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Bogey: Graeme McDowellThe 2010 U.S. Open champ and a runner-up last year, McDowell -- already with victories on both the PGA and European Tours in 2013 -- was one of the popular picks to win this year, but he never got it going. GMac followed up a first-round 76 with a second-round 77. McDowell ended up with seven double bogeys in 36 holes, matching his total number of double bogeys in 2013.

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Birdie: Tough par 5sGolf fans are used to seeing the pros feast on par 5s, but not so much at this year's U.S. Open. Merion features only two this week and neither have been pushovers so far. Both the 556-yard second and the 628-yard fourth are playing over par through two days, making this week the rare occasion where a player marking a "5" on his scorecard can actually mean he's picking up strokes on the field.

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Bogey: Angel CabreraDespite Merion's marsh-like conditions, the Duck didn't look anything like the guy who finished runner-up at the Masters in April. The man who only seems to show up at golf's biggest events briefly got into red numbers on Thursday, but that major championship magic disappeared quickly as the Argentine shot a second-round 81 that didn't include a single birdie.

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