PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Gary Woodland surged in the late hours of Friday afternoon as he worked his way through the front nine at Pebble Beach, continuing his scorching play on the final holes of a second-round 65 that put him in the solo lead heading into Saturday at the 2019 U.S. Open. Woodland’s bogey-free round was capitalized in stellar fashion with a 50-foot birdie putt at No. 9 to push the lead out to 9-under and his total to 133 for the two days.
He’s never been in this position at a U.S. Open in his career, and no one has been this low at a Pebble Beach-hosted U.S. Open after 36 holes as Woodland bested Tiger Woods’ long-held scoring record (set in 2000) by one. Woodland did hold a 36-hole lead less than a year ago at the 2018 PGA Championship only to see it fall by the wayside over the weekend. What Woodland will strive to do now is keep his form — which includes ranking in the top-10 in the field in both fairways and greens — while holding off what are sure to be aggressive challenges from the rest of the leaderboard.
Thursday’s leader, Justin Rose, sits just two strokes back of Woodland as both Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka are within a handful of shots from the lead. Pebble Beach is sure to firm up as the afternoon progresses, making life tougher on the leaders on Saturday and Sunday. That could open the door for a charge, but ultimately it’s Woodland who will need to deliver in order to push the pace.
Here’s how the top of the leaderboard looks after 36 holes:
1. Gary Woodland (-9): There’s something encouraging about seeing Woodland, at 35, capture the best form of his professional golf career. Woodland entered with two top-10s in his last three major starts and with this 36-hole start — at Pebble Beach, no less — his ability to stand his ground against the best in the game deserves our attention and respect. The challenge is going to be holding off major champions like Rose, McIlroy and Koepka through the weekend, something he was not able to do at the PGA Championship at Bellerive.
2. Justin Rose (-7): What a great response from Rose to follow up his record-setting 65 with another round under par. On Thursday, Rose was out of his mind on the greens with his putter after not hitting it great, and then today he was much better tee-to-green but missed a few more putts. Yesterday was the day to go low, and this morning had a lot of holes where par was a great score. Rose recognizes that, and he has to love his position heading into the weekend.
3. Louis Oosthuizen (-6): It was a good old fashioned lunatic scoreboard for Oosty on Friday. The one-time major winner had seven birdies, six bogeys and only five pars on his way to a second score of 70.
T4. Rory McIlroy (-5): On one hand, McIlroy was not able to capitalize on the par-5s. He’s played them at 2-over so far, but Rory is choosing to look at the flip side of that note. He told Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt that he instead is focus on the fact that he’s played some great golf in across his first two days at Pebble Beach and has yet to take advantage of those par-5s. That’s the scariest thing about McIlroy’s start for the rest of the leaderboard — the fact that he has yet to really put together complete 18-hole round and he’s still in striking distance heading into the weekend.
T4. Aaron Wise (-5): What Wise has learned during his young pro career is the value of hanging around in these championships, and he expressed that as a positive following his even par 71. Wise had three bogeys and a double-bogey but turned it on late with birdies at 17 and 18 to keep himself in the top five headed into the weekend.
T6. Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Chesson Hadley, Chez Reavie, Matt Wallace (-4): There seems to be no panic from Koepka, the back-to-back defending U.S. Open champion, after a second-straight round of 69. It seems like two more rounds like that might be good enough to win the U.S. Open, and that might be the game plan for Koepka to win his third straight.
T32. Tiger Woods: It was a really bad finish for Woods on Friday morning with some mistakes that will likely keep him from contending for the championship at a course where he has experienced a ton of success. There’s still some wins left for him out there, but he needed to be about three or four strokes better in order to give himself a shot heading into Saturday.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way Friday updating this story with the latest scores, analysis and highlights from Round 2 of the 2019 U.S. Open. If you are unable to view the updates below, please click here.
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