PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Gary Woodland figured the toughest part of his test in the U.S. Open was over Friday at Pebble Beach.
From a thick patch of rough between the bunker and the edge of the ocean on the eighth hole, he pitched up to 15 feet and made a slick putt with severe break for par to keep a clean card and a one-shot lead. Then, he pounded his drive on the 526-yard ninth hole down the middle of the fairway — right into a divot.
Nothing could spoil this day.
Woodland gouged it out with a 7-iron with enough strength to get the ball to the front of the green, and he could only smile when the 50-foot putt dropped for birdie and yet another record at Pebble Beach, not to mention a two-shot lead going into the weekend.
“That was just a bonus,” Woodland said. “Hit a beautiful drive. I was in the divot, a pretty deep divot. We were a little indecisive what we were going to do. We tried to take a little less club and hit it hard and play out to the safe to the right, and it was nice to knock it in.”
His 6-under 65 matched the U.S. Open record at Pebble Beach for the second time in two days, a testament to a course that was only slightly firmer, but still soft enough under a heavy marine layer with so much condensation it felt like a list mist.
Woodland was at 9-under 133, beating by one shot the 36-hole record at Pebble Beach that Tiger Woods set in his record romp in 2000.
Rory McIlroy, who kept it together right when it looked as though his round was getting away from him, felt the course was a little faster and could really speed up on the weekend. He was among 10 players separated by five shots halfway through a U.S. Open that so far has run smoothly.
That list includes two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka, who made two late birdies for another 69 and was five shots behind.
“I feel great. I’m excited. I’ve got a chance. That’s all you can ask for,” Koepka said. “I just need to make a few putts. Sometimes the hole just needs to open up. If I can get off to a good start tomorrow, have that feeling where the hole’s opening up, it could be a fun round.”
Rose set the target early and at one point Friday morning had a four-shot lead until a poor wedge to a front pin on No. 3, followed by an iron off the tee at the short, uphill fourth that peeled right over the edge and into ice plant, forcing him to take a penalty drop and leading to a bogey.
Phil Mickelson revved up the crowd with three birdies in the opening six holes, and six birdies for the round. He still couldn’t stop the mistakes, however, and Lefty had to settle for a 69. He was eight shots behind, needing to get a little closer in range to seriously think about a shot at the career Grand Slam.
Even with two soft days, and slightly firmer conditions, no one expects it to be easier the rest of the way.
Henderson breaks Meijer Classic 36-hole record: GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Brooke Henderson opened a three-stroke lead in a 30-hole day at the Meijer LPGA Classic. Trying to break a tie for the Canadian victory record for both women and men, Henderson completed an 8-under 64 in the rain-delayed first round and shot another 64 in the second round at Blythefield Country Club. Henderson birdied five of the final six holes in the second round to break the tournament 36-hole record. She finished play late Thursday with a hole-in-one on the 15th hole. Brittany Altomare was second at 13 under after rounds of 66 and 65.
3 share lead at Lincoln Land Championship: SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Billy Kennerly shot an even-par 71 to fall into a tie atop the leaderboard of the Web.com Tour’s Lincoln Land Championship with Vincent Whaley (68) and Eric Steger (66).