SAN FRANCISCO – Brash television analyst and former PGA Tour standout Johnny Miller – also the Olympic Club’s most visible member – depicted the type of golfer he thought would win this week’s 112th U.S Open.
He noted that precision players who keep their emotions in check usually fare very well on this testy track.
Miller also mentioned that native Californians accustomed to the heavy marine air have a considerable advantage.
So far, he’s right on both accounts.
After two rounds at the Olympic Club’s Lake Course, only three of the 156 golfers are under par. They also happen to be major championship winners.
Tiger Woods (even-par 70), Jim Furyk (69) and David Toms (70) all share the lead at 1-under 139, and are clear of the next wave of chasers by two strokes.
Highlighting the group at 141 is 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell (72), of Northern Ireland, and surprise first-day leader Michael Thompson (75), an Arizona native.
Then there were the notable exits.
Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, who last year set the U.S. Open scoring mark (16-under) for 72 holes, went double digits the other way in scoring this time. He departed after a two-day total of 10-over 150.
And England’s Luke Donald, ranked No. 1 in the world, is gone at 151.
Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley shot 77 and missed the cut at 150, tying for 95th.
If such a pantheon of U.S. major championship consistency existed over the past two decades, Woods, Furyk and Toms would surely be members.
Woods has won 14 majors. The California native has won U.S. Opens at the other famed in-state venues – Pebble Beach (2000) and Torrey Pines (2008). He could complete the trifecta Sunday.
With the way he is playing, Woods is the golfer to beat.
In many regards, his 70 on Friday was more impressive than his opening 69, considering it was posted under much firmer conditions.
“That golf course,” Woods said, “was some kind of quick.
“The ball was springy. It was getting crusty enough where the ball was wiggling on the greens if you were coming down the hole, so you tried to leave yourself below the hole.”
He made three consecutive bogeys at the fifth, sixth and seventh holes but made up for it with birdies at No. 10 and 13 – then finished with five pars in a row.
It is Woods’ first 36-hole lead at a major since the 2009 PGA Championship.
“As far as being in that position – I like it,” Woods said. “I know that (a U.S. Open) takes a bit out of us, but so be it. I’d much rather be there than missing the cut, or just making the cut. So it’s a wonderful place to be with a chance to win your nation’s Open.”
Don’t count out the 40-something co-leaders.
Long regarded to have the kind of game to win multiple U.S. Opens, Pennsylvania native Furyk has one already under his belt – in 2003.
Only Steve Stricker’s 68 on Friday was better than Furyk’s 69.
“There’s been years where I’ve gotten down on myself ... and lost my patience and I tried to force some shots in spots and shot some pretty big numbers (at U.S. Opens),” Furyk said. “But when I am playing well and I’m patient and have some control of the ball, I do enjoy 70 (or better) as being a really good round of golf.”
No coincidence, Toms said, that the three men atop the leaderboard share many rounds of major championship golf – and have a combined 62 top-10 finish at majors among them.
“Whoever wins this golf tournament is going to be a great champion – somebody that’s probably won events before, that can handle the emotions and handle the adversity in a U.S. Open,” said Toms, the Louisiana native who won the 2001 PGA Championship.
“You never know. Strange things can happen. But I would think that is what you would see a lot of on the leaderboard late Sunday.”