Riding a wave of boisterous fan appreciation, Phil Mickelson surged to the early 36-hole lead of the 104th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills on Friday, completing a morning round of 4-under 66 that left him two shots ahead of first-round leaders Jay Haas and Shigeki Murayama.
Mickelson, who finished second in the 2002 Open at Bethpage about 55 miles west of here, continued to draw great support from the swirling galleries -- "C'mon, Philly Baby" -- as he nagivated his way around this eastern Long Island course without a bogey on his second round card.
"I know the golf course isn't showing its teeth yet," Mickelson said of a second straight round when the wind was not a factor. "But it's still extremely difficult, and I'm in a good position for the weekend."
Haas and Maruyama were just teeing off for their second rounds when Mickelson was walking up the 18th hole. Mickelson blew a fine opportunity to get to 7-under at the 450-yard 18th when he left a seven-foot birdie putt a foot short.
Argentina's Angel Cabrera, who came back Friday morning to finish off a first round of 4-under 66, made a double bogey on his ninth hole of the second round and fell from the top of the leaderboard. Early this afternoon, he was at 3-under with two holes to play in his second round.
Fred Funk also was drawing widespread applause Friday morning. A native of Laurel, Md., and former University of Maryland golf coach, Funk had posted a somewhat disappointing even-par 70 that included a double bogey and bogey on his last four holes Thursday night.
On Friday, he came back with his own 4-under 66 and, at mid-day, was only two shots off Mickelson's pace-setting total of 6-under 134. Funk also had a bogey-free round that included his second holed bunker shot in two days. He did that at the 226 No. 3, his 12th hole of the day, after knocking one in Thursday out of a bunker at the 158-yard 11th.
Funk had no idea he would play so well here this week. One of the game's most accurate drivers, he missed the cut last week at Westchester and has struggled with his tee shots over the last six weeks, so much so that he said he has never hit more balls on the practice range.
"I didn't have any high expectations coming in here," he said. "I was just hoping, and I'm still hoping. I'm hitting a lot of good shots on the range. Last week it started to come around a little. . . . I've been struggling with ball striking. . . . This week, I've been hitting the ball as solid as I'm capable of."
Funk began his round with a surprise birdie at the 540-yard 16th. He said he hit a poor third shot chip that left him with an impossibloe downhill 18-foot putt, but his ball somehow made it into the hole. He holed out of the bunker for another birdie at the second hole on his back nine, hit a pitching wedge to within three feet for another at the 398-yard No. 8 and got lucky when his sweeping 40-footer broke sharply left to right at the 443-yard No. 9 and took one last roll into the cup.
The fans are also rallying around Funk, like Mickelson, mostly because they love to use his last name in a wide variety of ways, some of which are not suitable for the family Web site. "I'm hearing a lot of 'You got to have that funk,' that kind of thing. They're wearing me out."