Tiger leads U.S. Open pack

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 10th during the second round of the U.S. Open on the Lake...

Tiger Woods hits his tee shot on the 10th during the second round of the U.S. Open on the Lake Course at The Olympic Club in San Francisco, Calif., June 15, 2012. (ROBERT GALBRAITH/Reuters)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:59 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - Well, look who’s leading the U.S. Open.

The fact it’s a group that includes Tiger Woods is not a surprise.

Check to see who’s going home early from The Olympic Club, however, and a few eyebrows might be raised.

First-round leader Michael Thompson, who had a four-stroke advantage after Day 1, stumbled on Friday to a 75, allowing Woods, who shot an even-par 70 Friday, to grab a share of the lead after 36 holes with a pair of former major winners, Jim Furyk and David Toms.

In case you’re wondering, Woods is 8-1 in majors when he leads after two rounds. So, it’s officially his tournament to lose.

“I think I’m in a good spot,” he said.

Woods still has to contend with The Olympic Club’s Lake Course, which is being downright mean to the competition this week (the field is a combined 1,391 strokes over par). That’s why there are several big names who are on their way out of the Bay Area after just two rounds.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy? Outta here (10-over). World No. 1 Luke Donald? See ya (11-over). Masters champ Bubba Watson? Gonzo (9-over).

What Woods does have to deal with, however, are a couple of players who have beaten both a U.S. Open course and its field at the same time. Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, while Graeme McDowell, who is in a group tied for fourth at 1-over, won the tournament at Pebble Beach in 2010.

“I realize that, at 42, the window’s not wide open anymore,” Furyk said. “I have a lot more good years behind me than I probably do ahead of me, but I still feel like I’ve got some game. I’ve got some more tournaments to win.”

Woods continued his remarkable play on Friday, suffering only a couple of hiccups along the way that prevented him from going under par for the second straight day. He hit 11 fairways and 14 greens, and he felt his 70 on Friday was probably better than his 69 on Thursday.

“Even though I didn't miss a shot in the last three holes I ended up with three pars, but it was just one of those days where you just had to be so patient,” said Woods, who had three birdies and three bogeys. “If the wind wasn’t blowing it wouldn’t have been so bad.”

Joining McDowell at 1-over are Thompson, American John Peterson (70), who had to go through local and sectional qualifying to get to San Francisco, and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (69).

One golfer who piqued everyone’s interest Friday was Beau Hossler, a 17-year-old Grade 11 student who still has braces. He was actually in the lead, all by himself, for about 10 minutes until reality set in and he fell down the leaderboard.

Hossler, who played in the U.S. Open last year at Congressional, shot 73 and is tied for ninth at 3-over heading into the weekend. In other words, everything from here on in is gravy for the youngster.

Asked what he would think if someone told him beforehand he would be leading the U.S. Open, “I would probably tell them they’re nuts,” Hossler said. “I feel like I’m in a good spot for me to reach my goal of low amateur.”

Canadian Stephen Ames shot 73 Friday to make the cut with a 7-over total. The news was split on Woods’ playing partners. Phil Mickelson made the cut at 7-over, but Watson failed to keep his Grand Slam bid alive.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/PentonKirk


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