US Open
US Open
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Round 2 Reports
Trio top leaderboard into the weekend
Retief Goosen comfortable in the lead
DiMarco & Harrington top names to miss cut
Tiger Woods keeps it together to stay in touch
Late problems cost David Toms lead
Peter Hedblom shoots record Pinehurst round

Trio top leaderboard into the weekend

Twice champion Retief Goosen produced a typically ice-cool display to share the lead in the U.S. Open second round after most of the field struggled at treacherous Pinehurst on Friday.

Trailing by one at the start of the day, the unflappable South African carded an even-par 70 to finish on two-under 138, level with overnight leader Olin Browne and unheralded Jason Gore.

American Browne, who shot a 59 in qualifying 10 days ago to book his place at Pinehurst, returned a 71 after letting slip a one-stroke cushion with four holes to play.

Compatriot Gore, who missed the cut in his only previous U.S. Open appearance in 1998, vaulted up the leaderboard late in the day with a five-birdie 67.

"Every hole is pretty much a bit of a grind out there," world number five Goosen told reporters. "It's all about saving pars and making the right putts.

"The wind was quite tricky today and it's not going to be easy this weekend."

Nine players finished under par after the opening round but only five were still in red figures after day two.

Completing the quintet were South Korea's K.J. Choi (70) and Australian Mark Hensby (68), who were tied for fourth at one under.

World number two Vijay Singh was a further shot back in a four-way share of sixth after a second successive 70, alongside Spaniard Sergio Garcia and New Zealand's Michael Campbell, who fired matching 69s, and Briton Lee Westwood, after a 72.

Of the other big names, U.S. Masters champion Tiger Woods was one over after a 71, while Phil Mickelson (77) and Ernie Els (76) just made the halfway cut which fell at eight-over 148.

Goosen, known for his ability to grind out respectable scores on tough courses, stayed on track for a successful title defence with a mix of three birdies and three bogeys in bright afternoon sunshine.

For much of his round, though, the smooth-swinging South African had to play second fiddle to American qualifier Browne, who forged one shot clear after 14 holes.

However, the 46-year-old Browne ran into trouble at the par-three sixth, his 15th hole, where he twice found bunkers on his way to a double-bogey five.

Nine times major winner Woods stumbled after a promising start to lie six strokes off the pace after 11 holes.

The 29-year-old American, winner of the 2000 and 2002 U.S. Opens, birdied the second and fourth but slipped backwards after four bogeys in seven holes from the third.

So disgruntled was he after three-putting for bogey at the par-three ninth that he scraped the surface of the green with his putter before making an effort to repair the damage.

Although he had breached the rules of golf, no action was taken by tournament officials.

Woods rallied, though, with a birdie at the difficult par-four 16th before missing a 10-foot birdie putt at the last that would have left him at level par.

"I wasn't exactly happy with myself (at the ninth)," said the world number one. "I get frustrated out there but you try to keep it as level as you can.

"You've just got to go out there and be as patient as possible and grind away. That's the nature of U.S. Opens."

It was not a day to remember, though, for world number four Mickelson, who plummeted down the leaderboard with a dismal 77.

Winner of last year's U.S. Masters, the American left-hander was one of many who struggled to cope with tough pin positions on Pinehurst's notorious dome-shaped greens.

"I putted pretty poorly, especially the short ones," he said. "I didn't feel I played that badly but it's a tough course to come out and turn things around.

"The more you try to make birdies, the more bogeys you're going to make. I was just trying to salvage pars and had a tough time doing it."

Mickelson, who had opened with a 69 in bright and breezy conditions, suffered a nightmare start by dropping six shots in his first nine holes.

Although he rallied with his only birdie of the day at the par-four third, where he holed from 10 feet, he also dropped shots on five and eight before completing a 36-hole total of 146.

The best round of the week so far came from Sweden's Peter Hedblom, whose five-birdie 66 left him at three-over 143.