Phil Mickelson left his first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday with a lot of ground to make up heading into Friday’s second round. He played an opening round that left him with a score of 75 and without a single birdie on his score card.
Friday was a different story. Mickelson started his second round by reeling off five birdies in the first eight holes and went on to beat the entire field for the first time in his career. His score of 66 brought him into a four-way tie for second going into the final two rounds this weekend.
“I’m in a good spot,” said Mickelson. “I don’t look at the leaderboard. I don’t look at other players. I look at par. If you can stay around par, you’re going to be in the tournament Sunday. That was kind of the goal.”
After a strong first nine holes, Mickelson continued his steady play on the back nine and finished the day with seven pars to bring him at a 1-under 141. This year’s field of PGA players in the 2010 U.S. Open have found the course at Pebble Beach to be a quite difficult as finishing a round under par has been scarce.
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Graeme McDowell, the 30-year old from Northern Ireland, is the leader heading into the weekend after he finished the second round with a 3-under 68 to take a two-shot lead. McDowell was one of the players to get an early start on Friday and he took advantage of the calm air. His 35-foot birdie putt on the par-5 14th, a hole that gave most of the field problems on Friday, was crucial in sustaining his slight lead. He knows that there is plenty of golf left to play and must continue to be consistent.
“I’m really trying to put no expectations on myself this weekend because I know there’s a lot of great players out here … and this golf course is extremely difficult,” McDowell said.
Joining Mickelson in a tie for second include two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, 18-year-old Ryo Ishikawa and Dustin Johnson. Tiger Woods, who shot a 1-over 72 on Friday, is seven shots off the lead. He believes he still has a shot and likes his position, although he has never won a major after trailing by more that six shots going into the weekend.
“I’m right there in the championship,” he added. “I just need to make a few more birdies, a few more putts on the weekend, and I’ll be right there.”
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Mickelson has his odds set at 3/2 to win the 2010 U.S. Open according to PGA sportsbooks. Els has his set at 5/1, while McDowell is at 6/1 and Johnson is at 9/1.