Gary Woodland sets Pebble Beach record to lead US Open

American Gary Woodland was a happy man as he stormed into the halfway lead in the 119th US Open at Pebble Beach. Picture: Getty Images
American Gary Woodland was a happy man as he stormed into the halfway lead in the 119th US Open at Pebble Beach. Picture: Getty Images
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American Gary Woodland holds a two-shot lead at the halfway stage in the 119th US Open as Pebble Beach continued to provide an easier test than normal in the USGA’s major.

Even with the greens firming up a bit on the California coast, the second round produced more under-par rounds - 44 - than the opening circuit on Thursday (39).

Woodland has never finished better than a tie for 23rd in eight previous US Open starts, but the 35-year-old carded a six-under, bogey-free 65 to leap ahead of the first-round pacesetter and 2013 champion Justin Rose.

Though three shots off the championship 36-hole scoring record registered by Martin Kaymer in 2014 at Pinehurst, Woodland’s 36-hole total of 133, nine-under, surpassed Tiger Woods’ mark of 134 for US Opens at Pebble Beach.

Rose backed up his opening 65 with a 70 to sit on seven-under, a shot ahead of former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, with 2011 winner Rory McIlroy and American Aaron Wise both on five-under.

Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka carded a second consecutive 69 to sit tied for sixth, five strokes back at 138.

Three-time winner Woods bogeyed his final two holes to shoot 72 and is nine back at even-par 142.

This is not the first time that Woodland, a three-time PGA Tour winner, has held a 36-hole lead in a major championship.

In last year’s PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club, he opened 64-66, only to finish tied for sixth. He also tied for eighth in last month’s PGA at Bethpage State Park.

“I’ve played well at Pebble the last couple of times I’ve been here during the AT&T,” said Woodland, who tied for fifth in the annual PGA Tour event in 2017, but missed the cut in his three other starts.

“I’ve struggled at the other two courses (Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club), but this golf course I feel comfortable at.”

Rose’s one-under round was more about grinding out pars, especially his final two holes when he converted an 8-foot par putt at the eighth and got up and down for par from behind the ninth green.

“You know you’re going to need to make those sort of key 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-foot putts for par, and invariably they have a lot of swing on them on this golf course,” said the Englishman.

Four-time major winner McIlroy bounced back from going bogey, double-bogey at the 13th and 14th to card a 69 that left him just four shots off the pace at halfway.

“I had a few choices words with myself on the 15th tee, called myself a couple of names,” declared McIlroy, who hit a fairway bunker shot to four feet at the 15th and then rolled in a 17-footer at the 16th.

Englishman Matt Wallace sits joint-sixth alongside Kopeka on four-under, a shot ahead of a group that includes Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, John Rahm and Graeme McDowell, the winner at Pebble Beach nine years ago.

Open champion Francesco Molinari is on two-under, as is 2016 winner Dustin Johnson, who recovered from being two-over after four holes to sign for a 69.

Bidding for a win that would see him complete a career grand slam, Phil Mickelson is eight behind Woodland, as is 2015 champion Jordan Spieth.

World No 7 Justin Thomas missed the cut, which fell at two-over, along with compatriot Tony Finau, as well as South African Branden Grace.

Home player Brandon Wu is the leading amateur on two-under, two shots ahead of Norwegian Viktor Hovland.

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