Tiger Woods: A spot on the winners list? This has to be a mistake, right? Not this week, after Woods posted rounds of 69-70 to grab a share of the lead going into the weekend. He won eight of the last nine majors where he's held at least a share of the lead going into the weekend, so you have to like his chances -- especially the way he's hitting the ball at the moment. Woods is leading the field in driving accuracy at 75 percent. If he keeps that up, he's got a great shot to take home his 15th major championship -- and fourth U.S. Open -- on Sunday evening.
Graeme McDowell: There's something about playing in the U.S. Open that brings out the best in McDowell. After missing three consecutive stroke-play cuts, the Ulsterman showed up at Olympic and found his game. His round could have been even better had it not been for a five-hole stretch that included four bogeys. Even with the mistakes, he still finds himself only two shots off the lead at 1-over.
Olympic Club: How tough is Olympic Club playing at the moment? Let David Toms tell you: "If they gave you the first cut on every hole, you'd probably take it." Yep, hitting the fairways on this course is an absolute must, unless, of course, you enjoy taking a ride on the bogey train. With only 28 players within four shots of the lead -- and only three in red figures -- at the 36-hole mark, it looks like we could be in for a great weekend on one of the toughest U.S. Open tracks in recent memory.
Hunter Hamrick: Making his pro debut at the U.S. Open, Alabama golfer Hunter Hamrick looked to be well on his way to slamming the trunk early after an opening-round 7-over 77. That honestly should have been it the way Olympic Club was playing, but Hamrick decided to grind, posting a 3-under 67, the lowest round of the day, to make the cut. Even better? He'll be taking home a paycheck from his first even as a professional. That's never a bad way to kick off your career.
Luke Donald: He may be the No. 1 ranked golfer on the planet, but it's time to start questioning if Luke Donald's ever going to win a major. A favorite to win at Olympic Club, where fairways and greens are the keys to success, Donald crashed out early with a 9-over 79 on Thursday -- all but ending his chances. His usual consistency was nowhere to be found off the tee (he hit only 50 percent of his greens); and the putter was awful as well (1.78). It makes you wonder when, if ever, he's going to figure things out in a major.
Rory McIlroy: One year after he blitzed the U.S. Open field by eight shots at rain-softened Congressional, Rory McIlroy never even gave himself a shot at Olympic Club, missing fairways and greens with regularity and looking completely lost on the greens. With the exception of this year's Masters, he's been a non-factor in the last couple of majors. Since his 14-under win at the U.S. Open, he's gone T-25 in the British Open, T-64 in the PGA Championship, T-40 in the Masters, and missed the cut at 10-over for the week. It's time to go back to the drawing board.
USGA's 10-shot rule: It's one thing to notify golfers of your decision to tweak the rules well before the start of play, but apparently the USGA never got that memo, opting to change the 10-shot rule -- it allows all players within 10 shots of the lead to play the weekend -- at the last minute. Now it's just the top 60 players and ties. The change affected Casey Martin, Louis Oosthuizen, Ryo Ishikawa and Dustin Johnson, who would've all been around had it not been for the new rule. I can understand why the USGA made the switch (it should speed up pace of play with fewer golfers on the course), but a simple heads-up would have been nice.
Bubba Watson: Everyone thought it was silly when we started questioning if Bubba was starting to burn out after his Masters win. But after two missed cuts in his last three events, it's obvious he needs to get back out and start working on his game. He finished 9-over for the week (78-71) and admitted before the tournament started that he could potentially shoot 80 because of the course conditions. He was close.
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