Controversy threatened to overshadow the second day of the US Open here as first Paul Casey incurred the wrath of the United States Golf Association by withdrawing without giving a reason and then Tiger Woods was witnessed blatantly raking the ninth green with his putter after seeing a shot slip away.
While Casey's actions could quite conceivably lead to the young Englishman being banned from the US Open next year, the ugly scar left by Woods's petulant outburst may also have repercussions. The world No 1 had other things on his mind as he stood at two-over on the 10th tee, but he should also have been praying that none of the field yet to go through the ninth did not hit their ball on to the line where he scraped up the putting surface. Bogeys would be the least of his concerns then.
So, too, Casey, who pulled out without offering an excuse, valid or otherwise (and, no, a first-round 85 is not "a valid excuse"). He has spent the past six months trying to re-ingratiate himself with American golf after his comments, in the wake of last year's Ryder Cup, that he had learned to "properly hate" them. Commendably, America has been learning of late to "properly forgive" Casey, but this snub will not assist in his absolution.
They do not take kindly to foreigners treating their "national championship" with disdain and far better that Casey had simply released a statement as, indeed, his countryman David Howell did, "validly" it must be added saying that he had "pulled a muscle" or "strained his back" before making somersaults to the nearest runway.
Instead, Casey said nothing and the USGA was not impressed. "There were 9,000 entries for these championships, and to get in is a highly valued award," said Marty Parkes, their furious spokesman. "So we are not happy when someone pulls out without having a genuine medical reason. We don't tend to fine players, but we will take the opportunity to review what has happened and act accordingly."
This ominous statement is unlikely to mean a ban from any future US Opens although the way Casey is playing at the moment such cruelty may be kind. Mr Wayward from Weybridge has now recorded 85s in three of the four majors.
It all served for a gloomy start to the second round for Britain, after that quiet, dreamy, opening morning when Luke Donald and Lee Westwood performed with such distinction to be among the leaders tiptoeing out to tackle this monster yesterday evening. There was Peter Hedblom's remarkable 66 to cheer the mood, although the unheralded Swede's ear-to-ear grin after moving to three-over was not nearly enough to cheer it for long; that was a job best left to Donald and Westwood, England's "Luke-Lee Lads".
Colin Montgomerie was not up to it, despite striding to the first tee just before 8am yesterday with some confidence after an opening 72. "A round in the 60s will get me into contention," the 41-year-old declared. "I need a good start."
Er, how about a seven? And, while you're at it, how about watching the ball come back to your feet after chipping it up the bank off the par-five 10th (his first) green after having thinned your bunker shot over the flag? Not what Montgomerie was after, not at all. Nor, indeed, were the three bogeys that littered the rest of a birdie-less card that led to a 75 and a seven-over total.
Thankfully, that was looking good enough to scrape inside the cut, but with Vijay Singh already in at level par after a second successive 70, and with Sergio Garcia joining the world No 2 after a 69, that seemed to be the sole consolation as the Scot anticipated a tortuous weekend. "It's going to be bloody hard now," he said.
It was bloody hard already, especially for Padraig Harrington as a 74 added to his 77 meant an early return trip east.
Woods, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els not to mention Donald and Westwood were determined to have something to say about that, as they set out, and Hedblom's score proved that low numbers were possible on the beautiful but beastly Pinehurst No 2. Best they didn't seek any inspiration from Phil Mickelson's card, though.
The world No 4 had be vaulted into joint favouritism with Woods following his first-round 69 but his odds starting drifted as alarmingly as his drives did in a first nine yesterday that must rival Mickelson's very worst. Teeing off at the 10th, he bogeyed 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18 to stagger to the turn in a six-over 41. Tournament over, even though Mickelson claimed after the 77 cast him adrift on seven-over: "I've still got a shot, everybody but everybody can have a bad patch around here."
Early second-round scores at the US Open
(US unless stated; par 70)
140 M Campbell (NZ) 71 69; V Singh (Fiji) 70 70; S Garcia (Sp) 71 69.
141 A Scott (Aus) 70 71; J Furyk 71 70; B Jobe 68 73.
142 T Armour 70 72.
143 P Hedblom (Swe) 77 66; S Flesch 72 71; S Elkington (Aus) 74 69; N O'Hern (Aus) 72 71; B Estes 70 73.
144 R Green (Aus) 72 72; F Funk 73 71; T Purdy 73 71; A Cabrera (Arg) 71 73.
145 C Howell 77 68; T Bjorn (Den) 71 74; F Couples 71 74; R Imada (Japan) 77 68; S Kjeldsen (Den) 74 71.
146 J Daly 74 72; P Mickelson 69 77; S Ames (Can) 71 75; G Ogilvy (Aus) 72 74.
147 S Cink 73 74; T Herron 74 73, C Montgomerie (GB) 72 75; D Love 77 70; M Weir (Can) 75 72; C Barlow 76 71.
148 C Nallen 76 72; F Lickliter 75 73; P McGinley (Rep Irl) 76 72; L Janzen 74 74; JL Lewis 75 73; JP Hayes 77 71
149 P Hanson (Swe) 76 73; C Franco (Par) 74 75; T Lehman 77 72; R Karlsson (Swe) 75 74; S Katayama (Japan) 74 75; R Allenby (Aus) 72 77; Z Johnson 74 75; T Taniguchi (Japan) 70 79; E Walters (Aus) 76 73; D Brown 75 74; J Smith 78 71.
150 S Levin 73 77; *T Kuehne 75 75
151 P Harrington (Irl) 77 74, I Leggatt (Can) 75 76; S Gallacher 79 72; E Axley 81 70; D Oh 74 77; N Gilliam 76 75.
152 S Micheel 78, 74, S Appleby (Aus) 81 71
153 C Pettersson (Swe) 77 76; M A Jimenez (Sp) 79 74; B Bryant 79 74, C Wittenberg 75 78; C Jensen 77 76
154 J Ogilvie 79 75; R Beem 78 76
155 R Gamez 77 78, N Jones 80 75; S Ginson 77 78
156 B Curtis 76 80; D Hearn 77 79; A Barber 74 82
158 M Ruiz 79 79
160 *P H Soero (New Cal) 83 77; S Pallone 79 81
161 W Collins 82 79
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