Lee Trevino once remarked that if you were in possession of a 1 iron out on a golf course you could not be struck by lightning on the basis that "not even God can hit a 1 iron." Most club handicappers don't even carry a 1 iron in the bag and yet in his relentless drive for perfection, Nick Faldo is now playing with a zero iron.
The Masters champion described it as the perfect weapon for attacking the Monster, as Oakland Hills is constantly referred to, in the US Open Championship. However, Faldo can barely buy a birdie. He had none in the first round and two in the second in a score of 71. "I'm just grinding," he said. "I'm not getting it close enough. I've got to find some accuracy quickly." Even so, at three over par he is only five shots off the lead which is held by Payne Stewart.
Yesterday Greg Norman, who was annihilated by Faldo in the final round at Augusta National two months ago, made a move up the leaderboard with a 66, one shot outside the course record. The Australian is owed a stroke of luck and he got it in dramatic fashion yesterday. Norman, runner-up in the US Open in 1984 and again last year, went to the turn in 34, one under for the day, two over for the championship. He picked up a birdie at the short 13th and eagled the 16th, a par four of 403 yards. Norman's approach shot with an 8 iron from 144 yards, pitched beyond the flag, spun back and the ball obligingly disappeared into the hole. The Great White Shark had taken a bite out of the Monster.
At a stroke Norman moved from one over to one under and was joined on that mark by Ernie Els who had a 67. "That shot did a lot for my morale," Norman said. "I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens. The course is playing very difficult. I wasn't concerned about my score in the first round. In a US Open you can be six shots back with one round to play and still win." Norman, of course, led the Masters by six strokes going into the final round and shot 78 to Faldo's 67.
Yesterday Faldo was having a frustrating time of it. He bogeyed the third, the sixth and the ninth but had his first birdie of the championship at the fifth. His second arrived at the 17th where he chipped in from 30 feet. Colin Montgomerie, who began the day at level par, got to one under with a birdie at the 13th but then went backwards. He had bogeys at the 15th,16th and 17th, three putting the penultimate hole from eight feet. Anticipating a two, he took a four. A 72 put him at two over. At the 17th Monty claimed he had been distracted by the noise from the crowd who were following Jack Nicklaus in the group behind. "The whooping and the hollering in this country is ridiculous," Monty said. "There are players other than Jack on this course and they should be aware of that." What Montgomerie should realise is that swearing on the tee, as he did on the 10th, is more offensive than spectators showing enthusiasm for the world's greatest golfer.
Sam Torrance, awarded the MBE yesterday, is in the thick of it following a 69 that put him at level par. There were a couple of early European casualties. Bernhard Langer was disqualified after signing for a 78 instead of a 79 and Paul Eales, the Englishman who went through qualifying to play here, had an 81. "I'm shell-shocked," Eales said. "This is a big stage to fall off."
The 16th, Norman's benefactor, was also tamed by Tiger Woods. In the first round the 20-year-old US Amateur champion had a quadruple bogey eight there after twice hitting the ball into the water. He went from three under par to six over in a round of 76. Woods might not have needed reminding that when Ben Hogan won the US Open at Oakland Hills in 1951 he shot 76 in the first round.
Yesterday Woods repaired some of the damage with a 69. He birdied the 16th and 17th to come home in 34 compared to 43 on Thursday. Woods played the first two rounds with the Open champion, John Daly, and the defending US Open champion Corey Pavin. Pavin is renowned for his accuracy not his length and at times it looked like a contest between a pea shooter and a howitzer. In fact, all three scored impressively; Daly also shot 69, Pavin 70.
Anybody within 10 strokes of the lead made the halfway cut . There were more than 100 but only four of them are under par.
US OPEN (Oakland Hills, Detroit; US unless stated, *amateur): 67 P Stewart, W Austin. 68 L Janzen, J Morse. 69 D Berganio, B Ford, P Walton (Ire), G Trivisonno, S Cink, F Nobilo (NZ), M Ozaki (Jap), P Azinger. 70 K Triplett, C Montgomerie (GB), S Simpson, T Watson, C Parry (Aus), J Sluman, M Campbell (NZ), J Cook, B Faxon, C Byrum, B Ogle (Aus), M Bradley. 71 B McCallister, *S Scott, K Jones, J Leonard, S Torrance (GB), P Jacobsen, K Gibson, P Goydos, M Swartz, A Rodriguez, J Sanchez, W Grady (Aus), V Singh (Fiji), D Love, C Rocca (It), T Lehman, J Gallagher Jnr, S Murphy, P Jordan. 72 J Furyk, N Faldo (GB), M O'Meara, H Irwin, J Nicklaus, S Elkington (Aus), I Woosnam (GB), E Els (SA), B Tway, D Forsman, S McCarron, D Edwards, M Christie, B Mayfair, B Andrade, J Daly, J O'Keefe, W Westner (SA), L Roberts, D Ogrin, S Gotsche. 73 K Green, B Gilder, J Gullion, J Huston, O Browne, M Heinen, S Kelly, F Quinn, B Bryant, K Sutherland, C Pavin, J Haas, G Norman (Aus), W Riley (Aus), D Waldorf, S Lowery, S Hoch, K Perry, B Porter. 74 L Mize, A Cejka (Ger), F Funk, M Wiebe, S Jones, S Jurgensen, T Tryba, A Forsbrand (Swe), S Stricker, C Strange, N Lancaster, D Gilford (GB), T Pernice, P Eales (GB), J Julian. 75 S Gump, P Teravainen (US), J Maggert, P O'Malley (Aus), T Herron, B Jobe, J Hobby, L Parsons (US), D Duval, M James (GB), B Lane (GB), B Langer (Ger), J Thorpe, F Lickliter, D Harrington, B Gay. 76 B Hughett, P Mickelson, T Weiskopf, T Kite, J Flannery, D Toms, J L Lewis, W Murchison, *T Woods, T Purtzer, M Brooks, M McCumber, D Uresti, A Morse. 77 *R Leen, D Clarke (GB), M Calcavecchia, T Demsey, T Tolles, D Kestner, S Kendall, *R Edstrom, K Wiese. 78 D Brinker, D Frost (SA), B Henninger, E Aubrey, P Blackmar, M Burke Jnr, S Dunlap, C Paulson. 79 R Yokota, *T Kuehne. 80 T Armstrong, R Ewing, B Crenshaw, S Flesch, T Holloway. 81 G Lesher. 83 I Baker-Finch (Aus), C Raulerson. Disq G Waite (NZ).
Early second-round scores
US unless stated
* denotes amateur
P Stewart 67 71
G Norman (Aus) 73 66; E Els (SA) 72 67
D Love 71 69, F Nobilo (NZ) 69 71; K Green 73 67; S Torrance (GB) 71 69
B Andrade 72 69; J Daly 72 69; M Ozaki (Japan) 69 72; N Lancaster 74 67; D Berganio 69 72; S Simpson 70 71; T Watson 70 71; J Furyk 72 69
W Riley (Aus) 73 69; J Morse 68 74; S Gotsche 72 70; C Montgomerie (GB) 70 72; S Elkington (Aus) 72 70; P Walton (Irl) 69 73
B Mayfair 72 71; V Singh (Fiji) 71 72; J O'Keefe 72 71; T Lehman 71 72; C Pavin 73 70; P Azinger 69 74; D Gilford (GB) 74 69; J Gallagher Jnr 71 72; K Triplett 70 73; H Irwin 72 71; L Janzen 68 75; N Faldo (GB) 72 71; M Campbell (NZ) 70 73
B Bryant 73 71; W Murchison 76 68; M Brooks 76 68; S Hoch 73 71; K Perry 73 71; S Scott* 71 73; I Woosnam (GB) 72 72; J Sluman 70 74; J Maggert 75 69
B Ogle (Aus)70 75; C Rocca (It) 71 74; T Woods* 76 69; J Haas 73 72; T Tolles 77 68; A Forsbrand (Swe) 74 71; S Stricker 74 71; L Roberts 72 73; M Bradley 70 75; P Jordan 71 74; B Gilder 73 72; J Gullion 73 72; J Huston 73 72; K Jones 71 74; M O'Meara 72 73; P Jacobsen 71 74
W Grady (Aus)71 75; L Parsons (Aus) 75 71; J Thorpe 75 71; F Lickliter 75 71; D Ogrin 72 74; D Harrington 75 71; T Pernice 74 72; S Murphy 71 75; B McCallister 71 75; B Ford 69 77; J Nicklaus 72 74; C Parry (Aus) 70 76
D Duval 75 72; S Lowery 73 74; W Westner (SA) 72 75; T Purtzer 76 71; C Strange 74 73; J Leonard 71 76; P Mickelson 76 71; B Tway 72 75; T Kite 76 71
T Kuehne* 79 69; O Uresti 76 72; S Kendall 77 71; M Burke 78 70; B Porter 73 75; A Morse 76 72; R Leen* 77 71
D Kestner 77 72; S Dunlap 78 71; J Julian 74 75
T Tryba 74 76; M Calcavecchia 77 73; J Hobby* 75 75; T Demsey 77 73; D Waldorf 73 77; B Crenshaw 80 70; K Wiese 77 73; L Mize 74 76
E Aubrey 78 73; B Lane (GB) 75 76; P Blackmar 78 73; T Weiskopf 76 75
M McCumber 76 76; B Gay 75 77; S Gump 75 77
K Sutherland 73 80; C Paulson 78 75; B Hughett 76 77
M James (GB) 75 79; S Flesch 80 74; R Edstrom* 77 77; P Teravainen 75 79
P Eales (GB) 74 81
T Holloway 80 76; D Frost (SA) 78 78
D Brinker 78 80
I Baker-Finch (Aus) 83 82
Withdrew C Raulerson. Disqualified B Langer (Ger)Reuse content