June 13, 2008–Torrey Pines–10:30 PM PST–Tiger Woods (pictured), at 2-under par, is lurking at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, just one shot behind the second-round leader Stuart Appleby. And that's after two double bogeys in the first round and four bogeys during an 8-hole stretch in round two. But the reason it appears he is well on his way to the winner's circle is that little 30 he threw down on his back nine of round two (the course's front nine). Woods appeared to shake off the rust from his layoff on the walk between the 18th and 1st tees, and went on a birdie binge with four on the first five holes. He finished with another birdie on the 9th hole, his 18th, and with a round of 68. Former UNLV golfer Adam Scott again played with Tiger and Phil Mickelson, but ended the second round at +4 and in a tie for 35th with Mickelson and others. "This golf course is only going to get harder and more difficult," said Woods. "Adam and Phil were playing pretty good. But it doesn't take much, just make a couple of mistakes here and there. This golf course will bite you quick. And you just have to hang in there and stay patient." Three Las Vegas golfers made the cut, while three didn't. Photo courtesy USGA.org
Scott fired about 2-over par 73 in round two that included four bogeys and two birdies. Scott joined fellow Las Vegas golfers Chad Campbell and Nick Watney as those with Las Vegas golf ties making the cut. Craig Barlow, Scott Piercy and Dean Wilson missed the cut, but Barlow was still smiling with wife Leann following the second round.
"There is still no better place to be than playing in the U.S. Open," said Barlow as he gathered his belongings before the long walk to the parking lot. "I didn't do much this week, and I certainly didn't give you anything to write about."
Scott's round included a bogey on the 18th hole when he left his birdie putt inches from the hole but then carelessly missed the come-backer for par. He holed a tough four-footer for the bogey. It was as a good a four-putt as you can get.
Mickelson recorded a 4-over par 75 that included six bogeys and two birdies. Mickelson, who along with Watney is a student of Las Vegas' Butch Harmon, struggled with his tee shots for pretty much the entire round.
"It was a tough day for me today," said Mickelson. "I thought that the course was set up as fair as I've ever seen it. If you play well you can shoot a number, and I didn't hit enough fairways today. I've got to hit the balls in the fairway. When I do I'm able to play the course effectively. I'm able to make some birdies, make easy pars. When I don't, it's been very tough."
Scott and Mickelson will be paired together again for round three, but unfortunately their tee time will be well before the leaders tee off.
Watney, who moved to Las Vegas about a year ago, joins the long list of golfers who are calling the Torrey Pines course a very fair test of golf.
"I would say 'fair' is a good assessment of the course," he said. "There's definitely going to be some people getting beat up this week. This is always a long, grinding week, but I feel good."
The gallery for the Woods, Mickelson and Scott group was huge again, and some officials estimated that there were 60,000 fans on the course. Woods noticed it, for sure.
"It was loud," said Woods. "It was really loud on 18. Just kind of that — I don't know, it echoes a little bit more. People are excited. They were definitely jazzed today."
A win would give Tiger his third U.S. Open championship. Woods' round was jump started on his 10th hole, the actual first hole, when he got a break and had a decent lie when his ball came to rest just off the cart path and inches away from being behind a tree. He was entitled to a drop, but it would have put the ball in a worse position. He went for it and put it on the green in birdie range.
"I just happened to just get a great break," said Woods. "I had — not only did I have a swing and a stance, but also had a lie where I could control my distance. And it was just an 8-iron up there. Just put the ball in the center of the green and move on from there. But I wasn't trying to do anything particular with that shot. Just trying to dump it in the center of the green and I had 157 (yards to the) hole and (I was) just trying to carry it over that front bunker."
The march was on after that, and who knows where it will end.