Gary Woodland Leads Ahead of Major Champions at Pebble
Justin Rose remains in contention to win a second US Open after a round of 70 left him two shots behind the halfway leader Gary Woodland at Pebble Beach. But the Englishman says he will need to improve over the weekend.
Rose carded a second round of 70 to post consecutive sub-par scores in the tournament for the first time in his career and set a clubhouse target which was only overtaken late in the day by Woodland.
Woodland’s 65 matched the lowest score in a US Open at Pebble Beach, which was set by Tiger Woods on his way to a record 15-shot victory in 2000 and equalled by Rose on Thursday.
At nine under par, Woodland led by two shots from Rose, with former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen on six under and Rory McIlroy a shot further back alongside American Aaron Wise.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka, who is seeking a hat-trick of US Open titles and a fifth major victory in his last nine starts, was in a group on four under in a group which also contained England’s Matt Wallace, who was third in the US PGA Championship behind Koepka last month.
Graeme McDowell, who lifted the trophy at Pebble Beach in 2010, is three under par after a round of 70, with Masters champion Tiger Woods nine off the pace following a disappointing 72.
“I’m happy although I felt like it was an opportunity to go a couple better,” said Rose, who started from the 10th and went out in 34 after birdies on 15 and 18.
“I felt like I left two or three out there coming in but parring eight and nine at least makes me feel like I’ve got something out of the day.
“I have no expectations for the weekend really. I just like my position, the course and the way I’m trending but I still don’t feel like I’m cooking and I’m going to need to find that extra gear if I’m going to hoist some silverware on the weekend.”
McIlroy was three under for his round after 12 holes before dropping a shot on the 13th and then running up a double bogey on the par-five 14th after spinning his approach off the green and dumping his next shot into a bunker.
The 30-year-old was furious but picked up shots at the 15th and 16th.
“It was a bit of an unforced error on 14, I took a club that was not going to get to the back third of the green even after seeing other players do the same,” McIlroy said. “But I bounced back well and those birdies on 15 and 16 were huge to get me right back into this golf tournament this weekend.
“It’s boring and a cliche but you need to hit fairways and greens round here. I did not do that for a few holes on the back nine and paid the price and was lucky to bounce back.”
Koepka is well placed to maintain his remarkable recent record in majors and join Scotland’s Willie Anderson (1903-05) as the only player to win three straight US Opens.
“I’m good at this patient game, I know you just need to be hanging around on the weekend,” Koepka said. “I have a chance, just have to clean it up for the weekend. If I can putt the way I did on Thursday and hit it like I did today, it’s a good combination.”
Woods, who single-putted 11 greens in an opening round of 70, was on course for his first bogey-free round in any US Open since his final round here in 2000 after one birdie and 15 pars, but bogeyed his last two holes.
Jordan Spieth's eventful tournament continued when, a day after he was caught on camera blaming caddie Michael Greller for two bad yardages, his second shot from a fairway bunker on the second hole, his 11th of the day, struck a rake that was hidden in tall grass on the edge of the hazard, leaving the ball deep in heavy rough.
From there Spieth could only advance his next shot 40 yards, although he salvaged a bogey on his way to a 69 that left him six shots off the lead.
“That’s on me,” Spieth said. “I’ve just got to look at all options ahead of me. And if there’s rakes in front of the bunker, typically we pull them out. But when I was in it, I couldn’t see it. So it was kind of a weird set of events.
“I was trying to clear it [the lip of the bunker] higher than that anyways but you don’t see that every day. It was a tough break where it ended up after it hit the rake but that happens, it’s a US Open, you have to take it on the shoulder.
“It was a great bogey to keep the momentum alive.”
During the first round Spieth had a go at Greller after driving through the fairway on the eighth and then hitting his approach over the green.
“Two perfect shots, Michael,” Spieth said. “You got me in the water on one and over the green on the other.” He later admitted it had been said in the heat of the moment.
The cut fell at two over par.
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