Tiger Woods walks off the 18th green after his first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Thursday, June 17, 2010, at the Pebble Beach Golf.
Shaun Micheel hits a drive on the 18th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Thursday, June 17, 2010, at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Playing with his cancer-stricken mother on his mind, Shaun Micheel made an early birdie Friday to take the lead in the second round of the U.S. Open.
Starting on the back nine on a foggy morning at Pebble Beach, Micheel made birdie on No. 11 to move to 3-under par, one stroke ahead of his first-day co-leaders, Paul Casey and Brendon de Jonge, who were also on the course Friday morning.
Micheel's mother has cancer and is in a hospice, not given much longer to live. Last week, playing in front of home fans in Tennessee, Micheel finished fourth at the St. Jude's Classic. For at least a while this week, the 2003 PGA winner is leader at the U.S. Open — not that he'll ever have to be reminded again that golf is only a game.
"It's nice, because I'm playing for someone else," Micheel said after Thursday's 2-under 69. "It was always about me, me, me. What's my money list, where am I on the FedEx Cup? It doesn't matter anymore. I love my mom. What do you say? She's hanging in there."
Tiger Woods, coming off a 3-over 74 during which he didn't make a birdie, teed off Friday morning on No. 10 in a group with Lee Westwood and Ernie Els. Woods complained bitterly about the bumpy, dried-out greens after his opening round. He figured to get better conditions for the second round — playing early and with ample cloud cover over the Monterey Peninsula when he teed off.
Phil Mickelson, who along with Woods didn't make a birdie in the first round, had an afternoon tee time. He's at 4-over 75.
Tom Watson was playing in the morning and needed to improve on his 7-over 78 if he wants to stick around for the weekend. The 1982 champion at Pebble, who finished second at the British last year, got a special exemption to play in this year's tournament at age 60. But he struggled — eight bogeys and only one birdie — on a dry, breezy opening round in which momentum came and went quickly.
"Pebble had its teeth out today," Watson said.
He wasn't the only one to feel the bite.
A spot atop the leaderboard Thursday was nothing more than a license to fail, and more than a dozen guys took turns.
Mike Weir chipped in from the tangled rough near the 16th green to get to 3 under, only to push his tee shot on 17 to the left en route to a bogey-bogey finish.
John Rollins led briefly at 2 under but hit a complete shank out of the rough on 17, one of the 13 strokes he hit over the last two holes that left him at 74.
Others who got to 3 under included K.J. Choi, Soren Kjeldsen and de Jonge. None could stay there and the 69 turned out to be the highest score to lead the opening round since 2006.
Choi was one of six who finished one stroke behind at 70.
"I'm not thinking about what kind of score might win this golf tournament," said Ian Poulter, part of the group at 70. "I'm just happy to go out there and play as good as I possibly can. But I will tell you the golf course is difficult. There's not going to be many good scores on it today. And I can't see it getting easier."