ARDMORE, Pa. — When the first round of the U.S. Open resumed Friday morning at Merion Golf Club, there’s little doubt Phil Mickelson was snoozing soundly, long after he completed his wonderful 67 Thursday afternoon, even longer since his cross-country flight to get back to the tournament after attending his daughter’s eighth-grade graduation in California.
Those who had to finish their rounds, though, found Merion as quirky and quizzical as they had left it, and by the completion of the round, Mickelson’s lead stood.
Tiger Woods, who shook his left wrist in pain on two shots Thursday evening, avoided injury but not calamity Friday morning, making a pair of bogeys and one birdie in his final seven holes en route to a 3-over 73.
“My left arm didn’t feel very good on that shot, a few shots,” Woods said. “Overall, it was not too bad a round. I certainly had two, three putts – I missed a boatload of putts. The round certainly could have been under par. That’s good heading into this afternoon.”
Mickelson, who is scheduled to begin his second round at 3:41 p.m., led a group of only four other players who stood under par after the completion of the first round – which was still being played as the second round began. Australia’s Mathew Goggin, who qualified into the Open at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, joined England’s Luke Donald with a 2-under 68. Scotland’s Russell Knox, playing in his first Open, completed a 69 Friday morning, joining Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts at 1 under. And that was it.
Donald had gone to bed Thursday night leading Mickelson by one, but he had Merion’s fantastic and frustrating finishing stretch ahead. He made bogeys at both 16 and 18, and though his 2-under 68 trails Mickelson by one, it was the latest example of how Merion could flog the best players in the world in Friday’s second round – which began at 9:45 a.m. – and into the weekend.
“I think everyone thought that as soon as the course got wet it was going to play easy,” Donald said. “The scores certainly aren’t showing that. The tough holes are extremely tough.”
They are tough on everyone. All the U.S. Open champions from the past decade who are here (Retief Goosen withdrew with an injury) were over par – Webb Simpson with 71, Rory McIlroy with 73, Graeme McDowell with 76, Lucas Glover with 74, Woods with his 73, Angel Cabrera and Geoff Ogilvy with 74, Michael Campbell with 76 and Jim Furyk with 77.
“It’s one of those golf courses where there’s some easy holes and there’s some hard holes that follow,” Woods said. “And you got to take care of the easy holes and try and get through the hard ones.”
Adam Scott, the Masters champ who played with Woods and McIlroy, birdied No. 11 just as play was called for darkness Thursday night to get to 3 under. But a disastrous morning – lowlighted by a drive out of bounds off the 15th tee – featured three bogeys and a double, dropping Scott to a 72.
The players who finished their first rounds this morning now face a quick turnaround. Woods’s group, for instance, finished at about 9:20 a.m. and will begin the second round at 10:44 a.m.
“I’m going to get some food on board,” Woods said, “and get back out there.”
But who’s to say whether those who played Thursday morning, such as Mickelson, had a true advantage? The final tee time Friday is 5:57 p.m., so the second round won’t be completed on schedule, and the cut will almost certainly be determined Saturday morning.
Merion could dry out and become more difficult. Some light showers fell on a cool Friday morning, but temperatures are projected to climb into the low 70s with only a chance of a thunderstorm Friday afternoon. The breeze, too, was picking up.
Donald and fellow Englishman Lee Westwood, who shot an even-par 70 despite taking a double bogey after hitting one of Merion’s signature wicker baskets, were due to begin their second round at 10:22 a.m. Simpson and two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, who also shot 71, tee off at No. 11 at 11:06 a.m.