Ames on target

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

OAKMONT, Pa. -- Oakmont's greens and the red on the scoreboard both dried up at the U.S. Open yesterday.

Nobody was left under par after 36 holes when the carnage was done as Oakmont, armed with a steady breeze and warm sun, took back what it had given after rain on Wednesday.

Calgary's Stephen Ames made a good charge and was one of only two players to break par for the day. His one-under 69 left him at two-over for the tournament and two strokes back of leader Angel Cabrera of Argentina.

Cabrera birdied the last hole for a 71 and a two-round total of level par 140.

Bubba Watson shot 71 as well and occupies second place at 141.

"When the birdies did come, I took them as they came," said Ames, who had four birdies and three bogeys on the day. "But I think the golf course overall played exceptionally tough today."

Ames worked on his putting with coach Sean Foley for 45 minutes yesterday morning and it paid off.

"It's slowly starting to get comfortable and I'm a little clearer on where I need to be with my putting," said Ames.

The conditions are expected to get tougher over the next two days as the course continues to dry out, but Ames said he can take advantage of the situation.

"The fact that pars are good, you can go for the middle of every green, take your two-putts and go from there," he said. "Just let everybody else kind of fall off the map. I guess that's the way you have to play the U.S. Open."

Tied with Ames are Aussie Aaron Baddeley (70), England's Justin Rose (71) and Sweden's Niclas Fasth (71).

Lurking in a tie for 13th place after a 74 is Tiger Woods, just five shots back.

"I felt like I hung in there really well today," said Woods, who put himself in position to contend for his 13th major.

Cabrera's kick-in birdie on the last hole, giving him sole possession of top spot, moved the cut line one stroke lower and knocked the 19 players at 11-over out of the tournament. Sixty-three players made the cut.

The group at 11-over included Phil Mickelson, Oshawa's Jon Mills and Luke Donald.

"I'm sorry to all the guys I left out. I was thinking about my game, not about who wouldn't be here on the weekend," Cabrera said.

"The tournament is starting (today). I've never been after 36 holes on top of the leaderboard in a major, but we're going to try and make the most of it and hopefully have a good weekend," said the 37-year-old, whose best finish in this tournament was a tie for seventh in 2001.

Cabrera's best finishes this year on the PGA Tour are a couple of ties for 19th, but he is coming off a tie for fifth in the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship three weeks ago.

Mike Weir of Bright's Grove was the only other Canadian to make the cut. A 72 gave him a two-round total of 146 and a share of 19th place.

The low round of the day was a brilliant four-under 66 by England's Paul Casey to put him at three over.

It was a remarkable scene as Casey putted out to finish his round on the ninth green, the back half of which serves as the practice putting green here.

As Casey was finishing, a couple of dozen of his peers preparing for their rounds 15 yards away saluted his effort.

First-round leader Nick Dougherty gave him a thumb's up.

Colin Montgomerie and Chris DiMarco also acknowledged Casey.

"They were sort of shrugging their shoulders, giving me that how-on-earth-have-I-shot-that sort of look, which I returned," Casey said.


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