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Gary Woodland
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The Roundup

Woodland two clear at halftime

by Dave Tindall

Recap of the day

Morning session: Justin Rose consolidated his Thursday effort with a 1-under-par 70 which allowed him to set a clubhouse target of 7-under 135 and catching him would prove beyond the early starters. Aaron Wise came closest adding a 71 to his first round 66 to claim solo second of those who had completed 36 holes at lunchtime, on 5-under 137. A shot further back was a pack of four: Chez Reavie (70), Chesson Hadley (70), Matt Kuchar (69) and defending champion Brooks Koepka (69). Henrik Stenson (71) and Adam Scott (69) head into the weekend on 3-under 139. Further back in the field Jordan Spieth crept up to 1-under for the week with a 69 whilst Tiger Woods labored with a 72 to hit halfway on level-par.

 

Afternoon session: Jim Furyk posted the low round of the morning wave (67) but there were two that beat him from the afternoon session. First was Rhys Enoch who opened his week with a 78 but rebounded with a 66 on day two, making the cut on the number. Then, there was Gary Woodland who did Enoch one better by carding a 6-under 65, matching Justin Rose's R1 as the low lap of the week. It was a hot putter that sealed the deal for Woodland. Other notable rounds included Dustin Johnson's 2-under 69. It was notable because he gained more than 4 strokes on approach but couldn't pay off with the putter. 

Leaderboard: -9 Gary Woodland, 7 Justin Rose, -6 Louis Oosthuizen, -5 Aaron Wise, Rory McIlroy

Notables: -4 Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, -3 Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Xander Schauffele, -2 Francesco Molinari, Dustin Johnson -1 Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Evs Tiger Woods, Paul Casey, Hideki Matsuyama, +1 Jason Day

+2 Patrick Cantlay, +3 Lucas Glover, +4 Tony Finau, Justin Thomas

Low round of the day: Gary Woodland's 6-under 65. 

Revised outright betting: 4/1 Rory McIlroy, 5/1 Justin Rose, Gary Woodland, 7/1 Brooks Koepka

 

Saturday weather forecast

It's going to be cloudy, temperatures will stubbornly cling to the mid-50s, humidity will rise to around 87%, there's a 20% chance of rain and a wind of no more than 9 mph is expected.

 

Leaders after 36 holes

Gary Woodland (65, 133) - A flawless second lap which witnessed six birdies and a hot flat-stick (he ranks first for SG: Putting with 6.400 gained though 36 holes). He's also scrambling extremely well having saved par nine of ten times when missing the putt surfaces.

Justin Rose (70, 135) – Backing up his opening 6-under 66 which secured the first-round lead, Rose got it to 8-under a couple of times today but was 1-over on his back nine. Hit just nine GIR yesterday and ten today, so will his wayward approach play catch up with him on the weekend. It's an area he needs to clean up.

Louis Oosthuizen (70, 136) - Colorful stuff from the South African who had a 13 hole run of making just one par. That spell included both six birdies and six bogeys. He ranks third for Putting Average (1.522) and fourth for SG: Putting (4.696).

Aaron Wise (71, 137) – A wild ride around Pebble for Wise, who sprinkled five birdies but also swallowed three bogeys and a double. Hit just one less green (11) than in his opening 66 but not as strong on and around the dancefloor.

 

Fate of the favourites

Brooks Koepka (69, 138) – Was 4-under thru 5 yesterday so has played his last 31 holes in even par. But he's lurking dangerously and the three-peat is still very much in his crosshairs. Three birdies against a single bogey today after piping 12-of-14 fairways and pelting 15 greens. The one concern? A negative overall SG: Putting figure for the week when he handed in his card.

Dustin Johnson (69, 140) – Slow out of the gate but got in a groove with his irons and wedges. Gave himself a load of scoring chances from inside 15 feet (12 of them) but left too many out on the course to make a big move up the board. If the putts start to fall then look out. 

Rory McIlroy (69, 137) – Made an afternoon charge to share the lead but struggled with distance control on his wedges coming into the clubhouse. Dropped a shot at 13 and swallowed a double at the 14th. Bounced back nicely with birdies at 15 and 16 to keep himself within arm's reach of the leaders. 

Tiger Woods (72, 142) – A birdie at his second hole (No. 11) and then par golf for the next 14 holes before a pair of closing bogeys dropped him seven behind Rose's early clubhouse lead. Hit 13 greens but putter was cold and Woods has left himself an awful lot to do in the second half of this tournament.

 

Quotes

Gary Woodland (65): "I've played well at Pebble the last couple of times I've been here at the AT&T. I've struggled on the other two courses, but this course I feel comfortable with. Last year at Bellerive (leading the PGA Championship at halfway) didn't come out where I wanted it to, but I learned from that."

Brooks Koepka (69): "I'm striking it just a little thin and this range doesn't quite help. It's going into (the wind) and off the left, in a direction I hate. The turf on the range is a little firmer, a little tighter than it is on the golf course, and it's been easier to find my game actually on the golf course. The range is ... I don't know what it is. So I'm not going to hit balls today."

Adam Scott (69): "I had to stay patient and wait for my chances. Always in a US Open, even in these nice conditions, it's a fine line. On Friday I'm not going to win the tournament making a birdie, but I could play my way out of it and I'm glad I stuck in today. And hopefully I'm not too far back going into the weekend."

Henrik Stenson (71): "It wasn't great, but it wasn't bad, either. I kind of played major golf, try and hit as many fairways and greens as you can and make as many pars as you can, and hopefully you pick one up here and there."

Chez Reavie (70): "The course is going to play tougher and tougher the rest of the week. They were firmer today than yesterday. There's going to be fewer and fewer low scores. And par is going to be a better number. If you have it to seven- or eight-under par and you can keep it there, that's a great score."

Aaron Wise (71): "It was a bit of a struggle today. Didn't hit the ball as well. Was out of position a lot of times. The hardest part of playing an Open, especially when you're playing well and maybe not having your best day, is staying patient and not trying to force things."

Justin Rose (70): "I'm happy although I felt like it was an opportunity to go a couple better. I have no expectations for the weekend really. I just like my position, the course and the way I'm trending but I still don't feel like I'm cooking and I'm going to need to find that extra gear if I'm going to hoist some silverware on the weekend."

 

Road to victory at the U.S. Open

2018 Brooks Koepka – R1: 46th, R2: 4th, R3: 1st
2017 Brooks Koepka – R1: 4th, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
2016 Dustin Johnson – R1: 2nd, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
2015 Jordan Spieth – R1: 7th, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2014 Martin Kaymer – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st

Notes: By 36 holes, the US Open winner is almost always on page one of the leaderboard. Going back to 1996, every winner was in the top six at halfway apart from Webb Simpson at Olympic Club in 2012. Simpson was tied 29th although it was a bunched leaderboard and he was only six off the halfway lead. It's worth nothing that Koepka was five off the pace at the midpoint 12 months ago although a second-round 66 had elevated him to tied fourth by this stage.

 

Fate of the second-round leaders the U.S. Open – where did they finish?

2018 Dustin Johnson – 3rd
2017 Brooks Koepka – 1st, Brian Harman  2nd, Tommy Fleetwood – 4th, Paul Casey – 26th
2016 Dustin Johnson – 1st
2015 Jordan Spieth – 1st, Patrick Reed – 14th
2014 Martin Kaymer – 1st

Notes: In four of the last five years, a halfway leader has gone on to lift the trophy. It's quite a trend as Rory McIlroy (2011), Graeme McDowell (2010) and Angel Cabrera (2007) also managed it. Overall, since 2009, 17 players have had a piece of the 36-hole lead and 14 have gone on to finish in the top four.

 

Focus on - Tiger Woods

"Right now I'm still in the ball game," said a defiant Tiger after walking off the course seven shots off the lead. But is he? Has Tiger ever won a major from such a deficit?

Here are his 36-hole deficits/leads in his 15 major wins:

Masters: 1 back, 6 back, 4 back, 2 back, 3 clear
U.S. Open: 1 back, 3 clear, 6 clear
The Open: 1 clear, 4 clear, 3 clear
PGA: 2 clear, 1 back, 1 clear, 2 back

Overall, Tiger held the lead in eight of them, was 1 back in three, 2 back in two, 4 back in one and 6 back in one.

In other words, from this point, Woods has to break new ground.

 

Focus on - AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am form

Conditions in June at the U.S. Open are obviously different to those in the first two months of the year when the AT&T Pro-am is held. So, too, is the conditioning of the golf course and yet down the years the regular tour event has proved a useful guide when the national championship comes to town (even though, of course, Pebble Beach is used for only two of the four rounds). In 1972 and 2000 Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods completed the double, Tom Watson in 1982 and Tom Kite ten years later added the U.S. Open win to previous success in the pro-am. Justin Rose has made two visits to the early season event, finishing T6 in 2017 and T39 last year, so he might lack the win but it shows promise and he's far from alone. Chez Reavie was runner-up at the AT&T last year, Aaron Wise has only played the AT&T once (last year) but he finished T15 and was actually leading after a first round 65, and Jim Furyk, who posted a second round 67, was a 54-hole leader in February just three seasons ago and has five top ten career finishes in the AT&T.

 

Dave Tindall
Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.