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June 16, 2019

Woodland leads star-studded US Open


June 16, 2019

PEBBLE BEACH, United States: Gary Woodland drained a 50-foot birdie put at his final hole on Friday to cap a six-under par 65 and take a two-stroke US Open golf lead over former champion Justin Rose at Pebble Beach.

Woodland’s tee shot at his final hole, the par-four ninth, nestled in a divot in the fairway, but he still managed to reach the green in two to close out his round in sensational style.

“That was just a bonus,” Woodland said. “Hit a beautiful drive. I was in the divot, a pretty deep divot. We were a little indecisive what we were going to do. We tried to take a little less club and hit it hard and play out to the safe to the right and were nice to knock it in.”

Woodland was more pleased with a tough up and down for par at the eighth, where he sank a clutch 15-foot putt after chipping from the greenside rough.

“That was huge,” he said. “I played beautifully all day. I didn’t want to give a shot back.”

Woodland became just the third player to post a 65 in US Open play at Pebble Beach, a record set by Tiger Woods in 2000 and equalled by Rose on Thursday.

His 36-hole total of nine-under 133 is one shot better than Woods posted had in 2000, when he led by six on the way to a crushing 15-stroke triumph.

Woodland, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour who led last year’s PGA championship at the halfway stage on the way to his best major finish — a tie for sixth — has plenty of marquee names on his tail.

Rose, the 2013 US Open winner, fired a second-round 70 for 137. Former British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa had seven birdies and six bogeys in a wild 70 for 136.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and South African-born American Aaron Wise were a shot back on five-under 137, McIlroy with a 69 and Wise a 71.

Five players were tied at four-under, a group that included two-time defending US Open champion Brooks Koepka, who carded his second-straight 68. He was tied with Americans Chez Reavie, Chesson Hadley and Matt Kuchar and England’s Matt Wallace.

As Pebble Beach remained receptive in cool, overcast weather, 15-time major champion Woods was unable to take advantage.

The US superstar stumbled to a bogey-bogey finish in a one-over par 72 that left him even four the tournament.

“Not a very good finish,” Woods said shortly, admitting he was “still a little hot” shortly after signing his scorecard.

Although birdies were still plentiful, Pebble Beach proved it could still bite.

McIlroy was flying at six-under for the tournament when he found himself unable to get up and down for par from a greenside bunker at 13. He then took a double-bogey seven at the par-five 14th.

McIlroy, coming off a seven-stroke romp at the Canadian Open, responded with back-to-back birdies.

“Those birdies on 15 and 16 felt huge to get me back in this tournament for the weekend,” he said.

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