Sport Golf

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Tiger roars into US Open lead as McIlroy flies home


Karl MacGinty

TIGER WOODS leads going into the weekend at a Major for the first time since the crash of 2009.

A level par 70 in the second round propelled Woods into a three way tie at the top of the US Open leaderboard with fellow Americans Jim Furyk and David Toms, establishing Tiger as a short-priced favourite to end his longest drought at golf’s Majors.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy missed the halfway cut by two on 10-over after rounds of 79 and 73.

After romping to a record-shattering US Open win at Congressional last June, the former World No 1 forlornly described his failure to make the weekend in four of his last five events as “humbling”.

As McIlroy, 23, flew home to begin preparations for the upcoming Irish Open at Royal Portrush, Graeme McDowell had every chance of completing a remarkable hat-trick of victories for Ulster at the US showpiece.

McDowell shared fourth place on one-over par, just two shy of the leaders after his second round 72.

Though he dropped three shots in his final four holes as the wind rose and the small greens on the Lake Course at Olympic baked hard under the glaring sun, McDowell played well enough over 36 holes to kindle hopes of a repeat of his 2010 US Open success at Pebble Beach.

Padraig Harrington’s prospects of winning a fourth Major title tomorrow cannot be discounted as he went through halfway tied 18th on four-over.

After putting “terribly” on Thursday, the Dubliner rediscovered his finishing touch yesterday. Importantly, he also clearly is enjoying the splendid strategic challenge of Olympic.

He must pick up at least four shots over the weekend to have any chance but Harrington’s come from further behind to win a Major – he was five behind in 25th after 36 holes at the 2008 US PGA.

Furyk, 42, has achieved one US Open victory and two second places in the past eight years, while 2001 PGA champ Toms, 45, also has the game and the savvy to challenge this weekend.

Yet Tiger has controlled his golf ball so well at Olympic and is beginning once again to exude a real air of authority, a long-awaited 15th Major could be within his reach.

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