Golf: Olympic sets the standard

FOR SIX holes, Payne Stewart was six under par. For the other 30, he was three over. The most amazing thing about Stewart's consecutive run of birdies was that it was interrupted by a night's sleep. But while the last three holes of his first round and the first three of his second were touched with brilliance, the rest were more representative of the struggles of the rest of the field in the first two rounds of the 98th US Open here at the Olympic club.

Stewart maintained his lead after 36 holes but by the end of Friday's play it was not nearly as impressive as it was when he had been standing at seven under on the fourth tee. Then five shots in front, the 1991 champion ended the day at three under par, just one shot ahead of Jeff Maggert and Bob Tway.

Only three other players were under par, a reduction of three from the first round. At one under were an eclectic trio of an amateur star, Matt Kuchar, a pro who would dream of being called a journeyman, Lee Porter, and a former US Open champion, Lee Janzen, who mastered Baltusrol in 1992.

Stewart let three shots slip away on the back nine, including two at the last two holes. At the 17th he found himself in some of the longest rough on the course while at the last he was left with a six-foot putt for a birdie. The problem, though, was that the hole was cut on the side of a hill and the afternoon sun had dried out the greens.

The putt was always going to curve from right to left, but it curled right in front of the cup and then took off down the hill to finish 20 feet away. Stewart missed the one back and in doing so ensured the cut would extend as far back as seven over par.

Others had cause to curse the greens as well. Tom Lehman, Mark O'Meara and Tiger Woods, for the second successive day, all four-putted. "With that pin, that green is bordering on the ridiculous," Stewart said. "It was unfair. I thought it would finish three feet below the hole, but not 20."

Ironically, Stewart has been working hard at his putting in order to gain his first win since 1995. "I have not been able to put four good putting rounds together but I have had two good putting days," said the 41-year-old, who also won the 1989 US PGA Championship.

His decline left others further down the leaderboard still in with a chance over the weekend. Sweden's Jesper Parnevik remained Europe's leading contender despite a 74 and at three over par he was one shot ahead of Colin Montgomerie, who again suffered a bad Friday at the US Open.

Last year it was a 76, after an opening 65, while this time a 74 left the Scot seven behind Stewart. "It was just bad day," he said. "I didn't drive the ball well and you have to put it on the fairway here. I've no excuses.

"No one runs away with the US Open and I know with two 66s I will be right there. There will be no change of strategy, I just need to find the fairways."

On his miserable day a year ago, Montgomerie came in for some abuse from the Congressional gallery and at Olympic he was also heckled. Though he made no comment about the cheers that greeted some missed putts, such behaviour is presumably not unconnected to some of the articles about him on the local papers which have referred to Europe's No 1 as the "basket case of golf" and as "Snidey Whiplash", a cartoon character.

Montgomerie's playing partner, David Duval, scored a 68, one outside Porter's best of the day, to become the leading player in the world top- 10 at three under. Only Davis Love, who is struggling with a back problem, missed the cut, but given that many of the leading players in the game were in good form coming into the event, the severity of the course's set-up must hold some clue to the lack of a big name on the leaderboard.

The Irish pair of Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke both shot very creditable rounds of 72 to be five and six over respectively and Lee Westwood was also six over after a 74. But after four bogeys in a row from the second, the Englishman battled away bravely. From the sixth he parred to the ninth, where he bogeyed again but then the 25-year-old, in his second US Open, parred the entire back nine.

"I am not playing badly," he said. "Any course set up like that is going to be difficult. I have had some decent chances for birdies but not made any putts over the first two days. Once you get over par it is very difficult to get it back but if I can get back to level par, I still have a chance."

Quietly impressive, if you can be by making history as the first man to ride a buggy while competing in the US Open, Casey Martin added a 71 to be five over, but only after bogeying the last two holes. "I have proved something to myself because I know I am not playing as well as I am capable of and yet I have made the cut in the US Open," the 26-year-old Nike Tour player said.

Alas Ken Peyre-Ferry, making his debut in the event at 49, did not, but the consolation was the fact that he could return to New Jersey on the overnight coast- to-coast flight and see his son, who caddied for him for the first two rounds but was going back anyway, get married yesterday afternoon.

US Open leaderboard

(US unless stated)

137

P Stewart 66 71

138

J Maggert 69 69

B Tway 68 70

139

*M Kuchar 70 69

L Porter 72 67

L Janzen 73 66

140

M Carnevale 67 73

141

J Durant 68 73

N Price (Zim) 73 68

B Faxon 73 68

S Cink 73 68

142

E Romero (Arg) 72 70

C Dimarco 71 71

143

S Simpson 72 71

T Lehman 68 75

O Browne 73 70

D Duval 75 68

F Nobilo (Nzl) 76 67

J Parnevik (Swe) 69 74

144

P Mickelson 71 73

S Stricker 73 71

D A Weibring 72 72

C Montgomerie (GB) 70 74

F Lickliter 73 71

J Daly 69 75

145

E Els (SA) 75 70

M Reid 76 69

J Huston 73 72

V Singh (Fij) 73 72

S McCarron 72 73

T Kite 70 75

J M Olazabal (Spa) 68 77

C Martin 74 71

J Acosta 73 72

C Perry 74 71

G Day 73 72

P Harrington (Irl) 73 72

B Zabriski 74 71

146

J Leonard 71 75

D Clarke (GB) 74 72

J Sindelar 71 75

P-U Johansson (Swe) 71 75

M Brooks 75 71

J Sluman 72 74

L Westwood (GB) 72 74

T Woods 74 72

M O'Meara 70 76

S Verplank 74 72

T Sipula 75 71

147

J Nicklaus 73 74

T Bjorn (Den) 72 75

J Haas 76 71

T Herron 75 72

J Johnson 74 73

S Pate 72 75

J Furyk 74 73

S Appleby (Aus) 73 74

P Azinger 75 72

F Couples 72 75

L Roberts 71 76

R Walcher 77 70

Missed cut

(selected scores)

148

C Pavin 76 72, B Andrade 74 74, H Irwin 80 68, T Watson 73 75, J Cook 75 73, R Goosen (SA) 74 74, S Jones 72 77, N Faldo (GB) 77 72, S Hoch 74 75.

150

D Kirkpatrick (GB) 78 72 S Elkington (Aus) 77 73, M Calcavecchia 74 76.

151

G Clough (GB) 78 73, I Woosnam (GB) 72 79, F Zoeller 75 76.

153

B Langer (Ger) 75 78, D Love 78 75.

154

I Garrido (Sp) 76 78, R Karlsson (Swe) 78 76, C Rocca (It) 71 83.

155

C Strange 77 78

160

B Crenshaw 82 78

* denotes amateur

News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
News
people

Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Life and Style
fashion

News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news

Video: It is the type of thing no parent wants to hear

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Langley James : Field Support Engineer; Dynamics, SQL; Manchester, £33k+Car

£33000 - £36000 per annum + Car+Laptop+Phone: Langley James : Field Support En...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planning MRP Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's most progressive and innovativ...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Sales Executives

£19000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to our clients continuing s...

Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

£15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game