SAN FRANCISCO – Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and David Toms are tied at 1-under 139 after two rounds of the 112th U.S. Open. Four of Golfweek’s writers weighed in on five burning topics as we look ahead to Saturday’s third round:
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1. What odds would you give on Jim Furyk or David Toms beating Tiger Woods?
JEFF BABINEAU: I like Furyk’s chances to be there late Sunday, so I’d put him at 2/1. As for Toms, he’s been playing great, but the heat is going to get turned up this weekend, and it will be interesting to see how those 45-year-old nerves hold up. I’d put him at 8/1.
RYAN LAVNER: To me, Furyk has a better chance to take down his pal and former Ryder Cup partner — give him 3/1 odds. Toms? Maybe 8/1, at best. Furyk and Tiger think the same way on the golf course; they both “plod along.” The only difference between the two, besides Woods’ 13-major advantage, is that Tiger hits the ball farther.
JIM McCABE: I like Furyk’s chances slightly more than Toms’, at least 50-50 for Furyk. He’s playing that beautifully.
JEFF RUDE: Tiger Woods is the meanest, toughest golfer who has ever lived. Or at least who has lived since Ben Hogan. But this is golf, so yes, Furyk and Toms have a chance. Not that I’d bet them, particularly at the odds listed above. So if I’m forced to play Jimmy The Greek, I’ll list Furyk’s odds at 7-1 and Toms at 10-1.
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2. Of those currently over par, who has the best chance to move into contention?
JEFF BABINEAU: It takes a certain mindset to compete at the Open, and Graeme McDowell certainly has what it takes. He’s smart and he’s tough, and he hits a lot of fairways. He also was a winner the last time we were in Northern California. That’s a pretty good combination.
RYAN LAVNER: Back in NoCal, Graeme McDowell has the same look he did at Pebble in 2010. He’s hungry again. Beware, also, of Mahan, Kooch and the Duf, all of whom are 3 over, only four shots back.
JIM McCABE: McDowell at 1 over. Worth remembering he was three strokes behind through 54 holes in 2010 and won U.S. Open at Pebble. I also think it’s worth watching Charl Schwartzel at 3 over.
JEFF RUDE: Hunter Mahan. He’s 3-over despite a triple bogey Friday on No. 6, where he played hockey on the side of green after hitting a grandstand. Also keep an eye on Lee Westwood at 5-over and Jason Dufner at 3-over.
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3. Is Olympic’s Lake Course over the top?
JEFF BABINEAU: I’m OK with the U.S. Golf Association trying to stage the ultimate test, but this golf course is getting closer and closer to the edge. On Friday, there wasn’t a whole lot of wind, and still only one player in the field shot 2 under (Steve Stricker). It’s not that it’s tricked up, but the greens are very firm, and the USGA doesn’t need them to lose them on the weekend.
RYAN LAVNER: It’s getting there, slowly. But it all depends on if Mike Davis & Co. water the greens overnight — that could produce a few better numbers in the morning, at least. The greens got crusty and springy as the afternoon wore on, and the tilted fairways continue to repel balls into the rough, sometimes into impossible lies. A stern test, for sure.
JIM McCABE: If it’s not, it’s teetering. We’ve certainly had more two-putt pars from 35 feet than we should be forced to watch.
JEFF RUDE: It’s on the edge and could get past the edge if the setup crew doesn’t apply the proper amount of water. But as of yet there’s no lynch mob of players lined up outside Mike Davis’ office.
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4. Who will win low-amateur honors: Beau Hossler (+3), Jordan Spieth (+8) or Patrick Cantlay (+8)?
JEFF BABINEAU: I’m sticking with my original pick: Cantlay. He played like a seasoned pro on Friday, shooting 72, and even though Spieth has had a taste of the big stage, at this point, Cantlay is a little more seasoned.
RYAN LAVNER: Though Hossler has been a cute story for the past two days, and the 17-year-old is the only one to sit atop the U.S. Open leaderboard (however briefly), Cantlay is the most seasoned of the bunch. He’ll take home low-am honors. Again.
JIM McCABE: Nice run by Hossler, but look for a weekend fade and a low-amateur prize for Spieth.
JEFF RUDE: Cantlay. He’s been there before. Hossler has been a great story. But it was a Friday story, the likes of which we’ve seen many times before.
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5. Of those who missed the cut, who surprises you most?
JEFF BABINEAU: Luke Donald. Fourteen bogeys in two days? Seriously? For a top-shelf player who can stripe his irons and scrambles well? That one is a shocker to me, as is Donald’s pedestrian U.S. Open record. He’s now played in nine U.S. Opens, has no top 10s, and has finished better than 45th two times. Ouch.
RYAN LAVNER: Yes, most surprising, of course, is the fact that the top two ranked players in the world (Donald, Rory McIlroy) won’t be around for the festivities. Total stunners, particularly their bewilderment on the greens. Swing-and-misses by Oosthuizen and DJ also raised a few eyebrows.
JIM McCABE: Donald, not because he’s No. 1 in the world, but because he got there by virtue of a superb short game, and that let him down terribly this week.
JEFF RUDE: McIlroy. If I’m not mistaken, he contended last week and won last year’s U.S. Open by a hundred shots. And he’s known as BMW, the ultimate driving machine. Now, though, it’s time to go to the shop for a tuneup.