Phil Mickelson, Billy Horschel share lead at U.S. Open

Billy Horschel hits on the 18th fairway during the second round of the U.S. Open at the Merion Golf...

Billy Horschel hits on the 18th fairway during the second round of the U.S. Open at the Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., June 14, 2013. (ADAM HUNGER/Reuters)

JON McCARTHY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:39 AM ET

ARDMORE, PA. - The best place at Merion Golf Club for players to make up ground at this U.S. Open is in the clubhouse.

Most players were going backwards on the course before darkness stopped play just before 8:30 p.m. on Friday.

The only two players under par for the tournament are first-round leader Phil Mickelson and fellow American Billy Horschel, who both have completed their second round and sit at one-under par.

Mickelson played well Friday but missed two putts from inside three feet before holing a 30-footer for birdie -- his only of the day -- on the final hole in dying sunlight.

“I got shut out today,” Mickelson said. “I played really well. Even though I shot two-over, it was the birdie opportunities that I didn't capitalize on.”

What about the one he did capitalize on?

“It felt great,” he said. “I wasn't expecting birdie there. It's a very difficult hole.”

Mickelson enters the weekend with the lead in a major championship that has haunted him over his career. With five runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open, Mickelson would be a popular winner at Merion, just outside of Philadelphia.

“The way I have control off the tee and as good as the putter is, even though it didn't show today, I'm very excited about the opportunity this weekend,” the four-time major winner said.

The hottest player on the course was Horschel, who figured out how to deal with Merion’s tough greenside rough.

It’s simple: Don’t miss any greens.

The 26-year-old Zurich Classic champion became the first player in 20 years to hit every green in regulation at a U.S. Open and carded the lowest round Friday, a three-under 67.

“I didn't know I hit every green until I walked off 18,” Horschel said. “It’s a cool thing.”

It was a marathon day at the tournament with half of the field having to finish their first round before starting their second.

“Long day and I'm hungry,” said Tiger woods after carding a second-round 70 to sit at three-under for the tournament.

Merion showed her teeth Friday with players making nearly 100 more bogeys and 100 fewer birdies in the second round compared to the first.

“It's hard with the wind and the pin locations, they're really tough,” Woods said. “We knew they were going to be in the areas, but we didn't think they were going to be as severe as they are.”

The wind and tough pin placements were a popular topic of conversation for players after their round.

Rory McIlroy agreed the course setup and conditions were difficult and mentioned the pin placement on the long par-3 17th hole.

“They put the pin in a place that's virtually impossible to get to,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I hit a career shot and hit it to about 60 feet.”

Zach Johnson was reported to have complained about the setup, quoted as calling the course “manipulated” in a Golf Channel story.

McIlroy disagreed.

“It’s definitely fair,” McIlroy said after his round.

There’s a group of five players one stroke behind the leaders. The even-par group is made up of Luke Donald, Steve Stricker, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and 21-year-old amateur Cheng-Tsung Pan.

Pan and Poulter have not finished their second rounds and will do so when play resumes at 7:15 a.m. Saturday.

Mike Weir, who was five-over through 10 holes on his second round when play was called, has the best shot to make the 36-hole cut out of the five Canadians in the field. The cut could be as low as seven-over but will more likely end up at eight-over.

Weir double-bogeyed hole No. 5, which is the toughest on the course.

David Hearn and Mackenzie Hughes both sit at nine-over with eight and seven holes left respectively.

Ryan Yip is 11-over through 16 holes.

Adam Hadwin was the only Canadian to finish his second round but did so at 17-over and will not make the cut.


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