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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 23:12 GMT 00:12 UK
US Open 2006
Winged Foot, 15-18 June 2006




R2 LEADERBOARD
Colin Montgomerie
US unless stated
-1 Steve Stricker
Even Colin Montgomerie (Sco)
+1 Geoff Ogilvy (Aus), Kenneth Ferrie (Eng)
+2 Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington (Ire)
+3 Graeme McDowell (NIre), Phil Mickelson, Arron Oberholser, Jason Dufner
+4 Scott Hend (Aus), Bart Bryant, Philip Archer (Eng)
Selected others:
+5 Darren Clarke (NIre), Vijay Singh (Fij), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa), Ian Poulter (Eng)
+7 Ernie Els (SA), Luke Donald (Eng)
+8 David Howell (Eng)
Weekend cut at +9:
+12 Tiger Woods, Michael Campbell (NZ)
+15 Retief Goosen (SA)
+16 Sergio Garcia (Spa)
Colin Montgomerie is one shot off the pace set by American Steve Stricker at the halfway stage of the US Open.

But the Scot is not the only European in contention after a dramatic day that saw Tiger Woods and defending champion Michael Campbell miss the cut.

England's Kenneth Ferrie is a shot back in a tie for third, while Ireland's Padraig Harrington is on two over.

And one shot further back on three over, four off Stricker's lead, is Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.

The good news for the European Tour's representatives at Winged Foot continues further down the leaderboard as English debutant Philip Archer is in a share of 11th place on four over.

And Ryder Cup trio Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ian Poulter are part of a logjam on five over, only six behind.

While Stricker leads the American challenge, 2003 champion Jim Furyk is tied with Harrington on two over, and Phil Mickelson, Arron Oberholser and Jason Dufner share seventh with McDowell on three over.

World number two Mickelson, chasing his third straight major, opened with two bogeys and finished with another, while Oberholser equalled the round of the week with a 68.

The only man to match his effort was the almost forgotten David Duval. The former world number one was four under for his round with four to play but doubled his 15th to slide back to five over.

It's not the birdies you make on these types of courses, it's the mistakes that you don't make

Colin Montgomerie
But a hugely encouraging day for the European contingent could have been even better as the 42-year-old Montgomerie narrowly missed a birdie at the last and Ferrie squandered a two-shot lead with five to play.

The 27-year-old Englishman was four under for his round and three under for the tournament when back-to-back double-bogeys at 14 and 15 stopped him in his tracks.

He then displayed great heart to get back to the clubhouse without dropping any more shots to trail by two.

With eight players within six shots of the lead, European golf has a great chance of its first major since Paul Lawrie's Open triumph at Carnoustie in 1999.

Montgomerie, in particular, is excellently placed to win his first major title after a round of almost textbook damage limitation. He carded 17 pars and one bogey.

"The greens were very, very tricky and I'm delighted to get in the last group at the US Open," said Montgomerie.

"It's been nine years since I was last (in the final group) at Congressional, so it's nice to achieve that goal."

There's just no let-up - it's a grind mentally as well as physically

Steve Striker

The star of the week so far, however, has been Stricker, who holed a bunker shot at the last, his 9th, to get back into red numbers - a feat that only he has managed after 36 holes at the punishing USGA set-up.

The 39-year-old followed his opening 70 with a one-under 69 on Friday, mixing four birdies with three bogeys.

Stricker's final flourish meant the cut came at nine over, which ensured a host of big names, including world number one Woods, last year's winner Campbell, Spanish star Sergio Garcia and two-time champion Retief Goosen, all missed out on the weekend's golf.

But the plight of Woods and co was not on Stricker's mind when he addressed the ball in the greenside bunker at his final hole. He had bogeyed his last two holes and was looking at a tricky up-and-down to save his par.

"Truthfully, I was just trying to get it on the green. I caught it perfect and got fortunate," said Stricker.

Steve Stricker
Stricker has struggled since winning the WGC-Match Play in 2001
"I mean, I could have made a bogey just as easily and been sitting here at one-over. It was a good finish."

The unheralded Stricker has endured a few difficult years since beating Sweden's Pierre Fulke to win the WGC-Match Play title in 2001.

That win was his third tour victory and his first since winning twice in 1996 - a year that saw him finish fourth on the US money list. The last three years, however, have seen him finish outside the top 150.

But there have been signs this season that the Wisconsin-born golfer is returning to something like his best form. A share of 14th at Pebble Beach in February was followed by a third place at the Houston Open in March, and he has hit 70% of greens in regulation on tour so far this season.

Stricker, who claimed top-five finishes at the US Open in 1998 and 1999, hit 12 of 14 fairways at Winged Foot on Friday, and 12 of 18 greens in regulation.

"There's just no let-up," said Stricker. "By the end of the round you're getting tired and your mind starts to wander, and it's a grind mentally as well as physically."



SEE ALSO
US Open gossip
16 Jun 06 |  Golf


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