US Open: McIlroy lurking as Woodland hits the front

Rory Mc Ilroy

ROUND 2 – LEADERBOARD

-9 Gary Woodland; -7 Justin Rose; -5 Aaron Wise, Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen; -4 Chez Reavie, Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Matt Wallace, Xander Schauffele SELECTED OTHERS-3 Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Jon Rahm, Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia; -2 Dustin Johnson; -1 Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson; E Tiger Woods.

He might be trailing 36-hole leader Gary Woodland by four shots but Rory McIlroy is confident that this can be the weekend he ends his major drought.

McIlroy, 30, won the most recent of his four majors in The Open at Royal Liverpool in 2014. However, after muscling his way into contention, the Northern Irishman is feeling good about his prospects of winning the US Open at Pebble Beach on Sunday night.

“Overall, to shoot two rounds in the 60s and get myself into position going into the weekend, I’m very pleased,” said McIlroy.

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“I’m in a really comfortable position where I can just try to do the same thing – hit fairways and greens – and if I do that better than anyone else over the weekend, I’ve got a great shout.

“I’ve got to just put one foot in front of the other and step onto that first tee, hit a good tee shot down the fairway and start from there tomorrow. If I can do that, I feel like my game is in good enough shape where I can really make a run at it.”

Gary Woodland

To do that, he’ll need to reel in Woodland who carded a blemish-free, best-of-the-day 65 to equal the lowest round ever shot in a US Open at Pebble Beach. Tiger Woods set the mark in 2000 and Justin Rose, the first round leader, matched it yesterday.

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Three-time PGA Tour winner Woodland, 35, has only two top tens to show from 31 major starts... but they both came in his last three starts. He finished tied sixth in last year's US PGA and tied eighth in the same event - now occupying a new spot on the calendar - last month. 

"I played really well all day," said the leader. "I drove the ball phenomenally. It was nice to see putts go in. I struggled a bit yesterday but I got dialled in today and gave myself a lot of opportunities." 

Justin Rose

Sitting two shots back, Woodland's closest challenger is first round leader Justin Rose

The 2013 champion has struggled with the longer clubs in his bag over the opening two rounds, ranking T97 and T76 in Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee and Approach respectively. That has put pressure on his short game to step up, which, fortunately for the Englishman, it has.

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"My short game been really, really strong this week," said Rose. "I've made a lot of putts inside ten feet. I've managed my game really well. I've missed it in the wrong spots but I've always given myself an opportunity to salvage something out of every hole I've played and I haven't compounded any mistakes so far."

Tiger Woods

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods was left frustrated after a bogey-bogey finish left him sitting level-par for the championship.

However, despite that sloppy end to his round, the Masters champion is optimistic going into the weekend.

“Right now, I'm still in the ball game,” said Woods, three times a winner of the championship. "There's so many guys with a chance to win. We've got a long way to go.”

• Mickelson suffers embarrassment in first round

Selected players who missed the cut (+2)

Tony Finau (+4)
Jimmy Walker (+4)
Ian Poulter (+4)
Justin Thomas (+4)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (+7)
Bubba Watson (+8)
Thomas Pieters (+10)
Lucas Bjerregaard (+13)

Stat of the Day

Gary Woodland's 36-hole total of 133 is one shot better than the midway mark posted by Tiger Woods in 2000. Woods led by six shots at that stage and went on to win by 15.

He said it...

"It's nice to have somebody looking out for you."

After criticising him yesterday, Jordan Spieth was full of praise for caddie Michael Greller after round two.

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