SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) –
Michael Thompson was under no illusion that his three-shot lead in the US Open was a comfortable cushion heading into Friday’s second round, especially with Tiger Woods breathing down his neck.
“It’s a US Open, I could get bad bounces,” he said. “That kind of stuff is out of my control.”
Sub-par rounds were few and far between among Friday’s early starters, with 2003 US Open champion Jim Furyk making a modest move up the leaderboard with a one-under 69 that put him at 139, one-under for the tournament.
Furyk, who teed off on nine, rattled in his putt at the par-four seventh for the last of his three birdies on the day, and when he walked off the course three shots off the lead only two other players — Woods and David Toms — were still at one-under — and neither had teed off.
With bogeys lurking at seemingly every turn on the firm, fast Olympic Club Lake Course, Graeme McDowell showed just how hard it was to mount a sustained challenge.
Northern Ireland’s McDowell, winner of the US Open at nearby Pebble Beach two years ago, started the day in the group sharing second on one-under.
Playing alongside Furyk, he had three birdies and two bogeys in his first eight holes to get to one-under for the day and two-under for the tournament.
But he drove into the right rough in a stand of trees at the 520-yard par-four first and ended up with a bogey to be back at one-under for the tournament.
McDowell rebounded with a birdie at the par-three third, then bogeyed the fifth and sixth — finally dropping one more shot at his finishing hole, the eighth, in a two-over 72 that left him on one-over 141.
He was joined at one-over by Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, the Volvo World Match Play Champion who posted an impressive 69, and American John Peterson, who shot an even par 70.
England’s Justin Rose and American Nick Watney, who also started the day one-under, faded, Rose making five bogeys before his first birdie of the day at the 15th.
Meanwhile, Woods and 2001 USPGA Champion Toms were due to tee off in the afternoon, when sunny skies and crisp breezes were sure to have the course firming up even more.
Teeing off with Woods at 1:18pm (2018 GMT), four-time major winner Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Bubba Watson were fighting for their tournament lives, Mickelson after a first-round 76 and Watson with a 78.
England’s Donald, the world number one who topped both the US and European tour money lists last season, appeared destined to miss the halfway cut as he followed a first-round 79 with a 72 for an 11-over total of 151.
Donald, who has missed the cut twice in eight prior US Open starts, remains in search of his first major title.
McIlroy carded a 73 for 150, finding the Olympic course carved into the side of a hill between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Merced, a world away from the rain-softened Congressional course where he marched to a record-setting US Open triumph last year.
Westwood, the world number three who like compatriot Donald has yet to win a major, started the day three-over and gained ground with a birdie at the 11th, where he stuck his approach shot within three feet.
Westwood took bogey at 18 from a greenside bunker, and had three bogeys and one birdie — draining a long putt birdie putt at the par-four fifth — in his last six holes to finish with a two-over 72 for 145.