Tiger Woods shares U.S. Open lead after shooting even-par 70 in second round
With the punishing Olympic course allowing only a few rounds under par Friday, Woods's strategy of controlled tee shots and precise lag putting paid dividends for the second straight day, and Woods is now halfway home in his quest to win his 15th major championship.
"Much rather be there than missing the cut or just making the cut," Woods said when asked about the pressure of being at the top of the leaderboard. "It's a wonderful place to be with a chance to win your nation's Open."
While Woods's game has improved since his tumultuous personal troubles in 2010 and injury-scarred 2011, and he has won twice on the PGA Tour this season, many will not consider him to be truly back until he wins another major. His last was the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
"Last year it was a tough year, battling those injuries," Woods said. "It's hard to get any repetitions and hard to get my momentum when I can't practice."
Woods looked to be in almost total control again in the second round, although he had more difficulty holding the greens with his approach shots than he did Thursday, having to scramble for par from the bunkers and greenside rough several times.
"That was not easy," Woods said. "That golf course was some kind of quick. It got dried out. The wind was swirling a little bit out there. It was tough. It was really, really tough."
He also outclassed playing partners Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson again, although both Watson and Mickelson had much better rounds on Friday. Mickelson shot a one-over-par 71 to finish at seven over, and Watson also shot 71 to finish at nine over. Watson, this year's Masters champion, missed the cut.
But if Woods's most prominent rivals faltered -- No. 1-ranked Luke Donald was 11 over and No. 2 ranked Rory McIlroy was barely better at 10 over -- he still has dangerous opponents near the top of the leaderboard. Fuyrk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, fired one of the only under-par rounds Friday. The 2010 U.S. Open champion, Graeme McDowell, is one over for the tournament, and more than a dozen players are within four shots of the lead.
For a brief moment, Woods was alone in the lead after first-round leader Michael Thompson faltered, but a run of three-consecutive bogeys on the fifth, sixth and seventh holes brought Woods back to the field. He righted himself with pars on the eighth and ninth holes and then made birdies on the par-4 10th and the par-3 13th. Woods said his tee shot on the eighth hole changed his momentum after the three bogeys.
"Hit a nice beautiful high 5-iron, take something off it and land it, fly high and let it go past where I wanted it to be," Woods said. "That was more important than the birdie [on 10]."
Woods will play in the final group Saturday with Furyk, whom he has partnered with at Ryder Cup and President Cup team events.
"I've always admired how he maneuvered his way around the golf course," Woods said of Furyk. "That's one of the reasons why we were such great partners in the Cups is that we think alike. I just hit the ball further."
(Photo: Robert Beck / SI)