Birdies And Bogeys
June 17, 2011
Birdie: Rory McIlroy
Another day, another near-flawless round of golf. McIlroy was so sharp for most of his second round he was bouncing drives off the yardage plates in the center of the fairways. His 11-under 131 was the lowest in the 111-year history of the U.S. Open, and "the scary thing is," Brandt Snedeker said, "I could see him doing it for two more days."
Bogey: Rory McIlroy
Of course, there was that double bogey at 18, when Rory's wits left him temporarily and he went for the green out of the left rough and found the water instead. McIlroy still has the luxury of carrying a six-shot lead into the weekend, but it was the first moment all week that conjured up memories of his final-round implosion at the Masters.
Birdie: Y.E. Yang
Of the players on the leader board, the 2009 PGA Champion is the most likely to hunt down McIlroy on the weekend, and not only because he's the nearest pursuer, six shots back at five under. It was only two years ago, remember, that Yang came from behind to Tiger Woods in the final round at Hazeltine. His deficit to Tiger Woods after 36 holes that week? Six shots
Bogey: Phil Mickelson
Mickelson at least went low enough to ensure he'll be playing the weekend. But his 69 could have been lower had he not taken on a near-impossible recovery on the 18th hole, when he tried to cut his approach under the trees and onto the green. The ball trickled into the water, and Phil made double, dropping him 12 shots behind McIlroy. Judging by his downcast post-round demeanor, it's unlikely he's going to make up the deficit over the weekend.
Bogey: Bubba Dickerson
The 2001 U.S. Amateur champion was a surprising presence on the leader board on Friday, when he sat at one-under par after 27 holes. Then came a nightmare back nine when he made eight bogeys. The only exception was No. 11. There he made double bogey. Dickerson finished with an 81 to miss the cut.
Birdie: Robert Rock
Practice rounds? You're talking about practice rounds? The 34-year-old Englishman, who didn't arrive at Congressional until Thursday morning because of visa problems, has proven them to be overrated. Playing in his first U.S. Open, he sits at one-under par and on the first page of the leader board.
Birdie: Tiger Woods
Turns out the best decision Woods has made in a while was the one to stay home. Think about it: he not only avoids putting unneeded strain on his ailing leg, but he spares himself reminders of how the next generation of players is poised to surpass him.
Rare is the U.S. Open golf course that has been reduced to an afterthought, but that has been the case so far here. With Rory setting the Open 36-hole scoring record and a bunch of players under par as well, Congressional looks to be the tamest U.S. Open layout since Olympia Fields in 2003. Don't remember what happened that year? Exactly.
Sure, there's not much in the way of a competition right now, but NBC is guaranteed a compelling storyline heading into the weekend. Whether McIlroy holds on or blows up, he bears watching the rest of the way.
Which is not to say the network was lucky on Friday. By the time the network signed on for its second-round telecast, McIlroy had long since signed his card, leaving Johnny Miller to critique the swings of a bunch of guys 10 shots off the lead.
Bogey: Hunter Mahan
Mahan was quoted as saying a 62 was plausible this week, and he would know: he shot 62 en route to his runner-up finish to Tiger Woods here in the 2009 AT&T. But in a season in which he has seven top 10s on tour, Mahan laid an egg in his second straight major, finishing five over to miss another cut.