Familiar look at U.S. Open with Tiger Woods leading way
Woods tied with Furyk, Toms at 1-under
The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer
SAN FRANCISCO — It's beginning to look so familiar.
Like a movie you've seen. Like a favorite vacation spot. Like a recurring dream.
The scoreboard midway through the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club says Tiger Woods, David Toms and Jim Furyk share the 36-hole lead at 1-under par 139, two clear of everyone else — but this is Woods' story, at least entering the weekend.
Two weeks after tying Jack Nicklaus with his 73rd career PGA Tour victory, second-most in history, Woods is two rounds away from winning his 15th professional major championship and reigniting his quest to break the Golden Bear's revered record of 18 major championship trophies.
Woods, who overcame three consecutive bogeys on the front nine, isn't getting ahead of himself, knowing the firm, fast conditions he and others faced Friday will likely become firmer and faster over the weekend.
"This is a different tournament," Woods said. "You have to stay patient, got to stay in the present and you're just playing for a lot of pars. This is not a tournament where you have to make a bunch of birdies."
Woods made three birdies Friday, the same as Furyk and one more than Toms. He did it with an approach that isn't likely to waver over the final two days. Woods hit just four drivers in the second round, one more than Thursday, and he played to spots in fairways and on greens, intent on minimizing the potential negatives.
It's not a flamboyant approach, but it's what the Open and Olympic demand.
While Woods casts his own unique shadow, the 42-year old Furyk and 45-year old Toms fit the classic profile of U.S. Open contenders. They've played a combined 32 U.S. Opens and Furyk won the 2003 version, while Toms won the 2001 PGA Championship.
Furyk has built a career on playing intelligent, reliable golf. What he might lack in style points, particularly with his looping swing and halting preputting routine, Furyk has made up for with his relentlessness. It didn't hurt that he had two deuces on his card Friday.
"I'm just trying to ... plod, I think, is a good word. You take what the course gives you and play the best you can from there."
Graeme McDowell, who won two years ago at Pebble Beach and is tied for fourth with Nicolas Colsaerts and John Peterson, has a style that mirrors many of the qualities that have allowed Furyk to distinguish himself, particularly on unforgiving U.S. Open layouts.
"You've got to play Jim Furyk golf," said McDowell, who played the first two rounds with Furyk. "(He) doesn't take chances he doesn't have to take on. He gets it back in the fairway. He putts well. Holes out well. Takes his chances when they come. And that's my type of golf as well.
"I don't like the word plodder. It's kind of a little bit disrespectful. ... You've got to take your shots on but play safe."
Toms excels at playing to his strengths, especially on a course that doesn't demand power.
"I'm pretty confident that I can play the golf course well, but you still have to go out and execute and I've done that for a couple days," Toms said.
Michael Thompson, the first-round leader, struggled shooting 75, while 17-year old amateur Beau Hossler had the outright lead for a brief time at 2-under par before he ran into problems on the difficult front-nine stretch and finished at 3-over par.