SAN FRANCISCO -- Day 2 of the U.S. Open has begun with 155 players all chasing leader Michael Thompson.
Especially Tiger Woods.
The 14-time major champion began Friday three strokes behind Thompson and tied with four others in second at 1 under. Woods and Thompson both had afternoon tee times.
Calm and cool conditions under a thin layer of fog already burning off gave The Olympic Club a majestic backdrop of San Francisco’s steep hills when the first groups teed off shortly after 7 a.m. It could be the last time most players enjoy the serene setting.
The U.S. Golf Association decided this year to eliminate the 10-shot rule in making the cut. Starting at this year’s championship, the cut will be the top 60 and ties. A number of top-ranked players might not make it to the weekend.
No. 1 Luke Donald (79) and defending champion Rory McIlroy (77) are closer to the cut line than the leaderboard. Same goes for the two accomplished left-handers in Woods’ group, Phil Mickelson (76) and reigning Masters champion Bubba Watson (78), not to mention third-ranked Lee Westwood (73).
The tight, twisting fairways on the unleveled Lake Course had most of the field hacking out of rough and digging into sand for shots in the opening rounds. Others searched for balls in the colossal cypress trees or pushed putts all over the rock-hard greens. Mickelson did all three.
The cut line started with anyone at 4 over or better at the beginning of the second round.
USGA executive director Mike Davis said this week the idea behind the new rule was to limit the number of golfers making the cut -- 108 did so Oakland Hills in 1996 -- and prevent slow play that could perhaps force a two-tee start in threesomes.
Not that Woods will need to worry about that.
Woods was in complete control of his game in the first round, finding fairways, sticking greens and avoiding the thick rough and towering trees that line the course built on the side of a hill that separates the Pacific Ocean from Lake Merced. He birdied back-to-back late in his round, including a 35-foot putt that banged into the back of the cup on No. 5.
Thompson, who is 27 and in his first U.S. Open as a pro, made seven birdies—seven more than Donald—for a 4-under 66. He was runner-up in the 2007 U.S. Amateur, which just so happed to be at Olympic Club.
Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Nick Watney and David Toms also were tied with Woods at 1 under. Eight others were at par.