FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Phil Mickelson’s second round resumed at the par-4 12th, but it didn’t take long for him to create a little drama. His tee shot at the par-5 13th landed beneath a clump of grass on the side of a bunker, as close to an impossible shot as you’ll see.
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“I think we have an embedded ball,” Mickelson said to the U.S. Golf Association walking rules official.
For support, Mickelson asked fans who have been so vocal in their loyalty toward him. “Did it bounce?” Mickelson asked, and almost on command a handful of fans said it hadn’t, that it had gone into the grass on the fly.
The ball was buried beneath tall grass, but as the rules official bent over to study the situation, he seemingly made things worse (before ruling it wasn’t embedded). Mickelson, as is his right, then asked for a second opinion. Onto the scene came PGA Tour rules official Mark Dusbabek, who examined and agreed that it was not embedded.
“It has to break the surface of the ground,” Dusbabek said. “But it wasn’t embedded.”
Mickelson took an unplayable lie, made bogey, and went on to complete a second-round 70.
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Relentless rain and unprecedented softness have combined to make this a record-setting U.S. Open – even if the names making the noise are unheralded.
Ricky Barnes, for instance. Seemingly forgotten since winning the U.S. Amateur in 2002, Barnes had never broken 70 in 10 previous rounds at the U.S. Open, yet with trips of 67-65 over Bethpage Black, Barnes, 28, established a record for lowest 36-hole score in championship history.
Previously, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh had shared the mark with 133s at Olympia Fields in 2003. That total had been matched earlier in the day by Lucas Glover (69-64), though his feat was overshadowed a few hours later.
Not to be outdone, Nick Taylor, a 21-year-old Canadian, matched the lowest U.S. Open score by an amateur when he birdied the par-4 18th to shoot 65. It pushed Taylor to 2-under 138, tied for seventh.
James McHale (1947, St. Louis CC) and James Simons (1971, Merion) had previously shared the low score by an amateur.
Over the first two rounds, there had been 45 sub-par scores. The record for 72 holes of a U.S. Open is 83, set in 2003.
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Having completed his second-round 69 to get through 36 holes at 2 under, Sean O’Hair was going to get some rest – after checking in with his wife, Jackie.
Pregnant with the couple’s third child, she is back home in West Chester, Penn., but O’Hair said he’d certainly be getting an update. He had said earlier in the week he’d go home if Jackie went into labor, but “I’m not carrying a beeper.”
With rain dominating the forecast, O’Hair joked that he might not play his third round until late Sunday or even Monday, so if Jackie went into labor, he could perhaps go home and get back in time.
Then, he laughed.
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As his 18-foot birdie try came up 2 feet short at the par-3 17th, a vintage New York fan screamed out, “Hit the ball, Ernie.” If Els looked unperturbed, it’s for good reason; he was probably muttering something even worse to himself.
The two-time champ suffered through his worst-ever U.S. Open, with rounds of 78-77 leaving him ahead of only seven players.
Els has on two other occasions missed a U.S. Open cut, but he shot 147 in 1995 and 148 in 1999.
It’s also the first time since 1995 that he has missed the cut in the first two majors of the season (Masters, U.S. Open).
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Adam Scott’s resurgence took a bit of a hit with a sloppy finish to his second round. He pushed to 3 under with a birdie at the par 5, but finished bogey-bogey-bogey to shoot 71 and settle in at even-par 140. Still, he made a cut for just the second time in his last nine tournaments . . . . Todd Hamilton (67-71) started the third round tied for seventh. In six previous U.S. Opens, he had never been better than 49th through 36 holes, that being last year when he made the cut for the first time. . . . Sergio Garcia posted his second consecutive 70 to sit at 140, tied for 16th. What a difference from 2002, when Garcia was 142 through 36 holes, but sitting third.
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David Toms restarted his second round at the 13th, made bogey, then added bogeys at the 15th and 17th to back up a 69 with a 76 to miss the cut by one. . . . Another stunning collapse was authored by Justin Leonard. Having opened with a 71, Leonard was at level par when he played his final 13 holes in 6-over to miss the cut by two. . . . Peter Tomasulo bogeyed three of his final five holes to miss the cut by one. . . . Brandt Snedeker bogeyed three of his final five to miss by one. . . . Miguel Angel Jimenez bogeyed the 18th hole to miss by one as he followed a 77 with a 68. . . . James Kamte of South Africa resumed his second round at 2 over, tied for 34th. He played his last four holes in 4 over to miss the cut by two. . . . Eduardo Romero, the U.S. Senior Open champ, was 6 over for his first nine holes, 1 over for the next 27. A good recovery, but he missed the cut by two.
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As for the big boppers, Alvaro Quiros seemed to have a slight edge as he averaged 304.25 yards as compared to the 301.25 put up by his playing competitor, J.B. Holmes. But Holmes scored better, as his 73-67 made the cut. Quiros went home with rounds of 73-73. . . .Quiros hit less than 50 percent of his fairways (13 of 28).