News & ToursJune 18, 2011

Kinder, gentler Open brings more players into mix

BETHESDA, Md. --As he all but promised, Lee Westwood caught Y.E. Yang -- then passed him in the same moment. Westwood rolled in a 25-foot putt for an eagle at the 16th hole. It moved him to five-under par and in second place, seven shots behind Rory McIlroy. It was just after 5 o'clock on Saturday afternoon, a time in the U.S. Open when most players are frazzled by ankle-high rough along shoestring-narrow fairways leading to skateboard-park greens. Not here, not with the days and nights of rain, not with the kinder, gentler USGA coming around to the idea that paying customers prefer birdies to blood. At 5:19, there were 19 players under par. If McIlroy should stumble a step or three, it's anyone's championship.

*(Related: Congressional course tour with the USGA's Mike Davis)*

-- Dave Kindred

Follow on Twitter: @DaveKindred

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