Furyk takes lead at US Open

Friday, June 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (AP) _ Jim Furyk shot a 66 Friday to take the early second-round lead at the U.S. Open and set a record for the first two rounds.

After an opening-day 67, Furyk's 133 total was the lowest score for the first 36 holes in U.S. Open history.

The previous low in the first two rounds was 134 held by four players _ Jack Nicklaus in 1980; Tze-Chung Chen in 1985; Lee Janzen in 1993 and Tiger Woods in 2000.

First-day co-leader Tom Watson, coming off a 5-under 65, was near the top until a double bogey on the 12th hole, the same one he eagled Thursday with a 6-iron from 171 yards. He finished with a 2-over 72 and was four strokes behind Furyk.

Watson, a sentimental favorite of the galleries at Olympia Fields, regrouped for a birdie at No. 14. But he finished with a bogey on the 18th when he hit his second shot out of the rough into the bunker and then two-putted the par 4.

``Today was more of a struggle,'' Watson said. ``Yesterday I was full tilt. Today I was treading water.''

Nick Price shot a 65 and Eduardo Romero a 66, putting them three strokes back with two-day totals of 136.

Brett Quigley, who shared the lead with Watson after round one, faltered with a second-day 74, leaving him six shots behind Furyk.

Furyk's second round at the U.S. Open a year ago at Bethpage was one he'd like to forget, an 80 that forced him to miss the cut. He got off to a fast start Friday with a birdie on the par-5, 576-yard first hole, the longest one on the North Course. He finished with four birdies.

Watson shot an even-par 36 on the front nine before his double bogey at No. 12.

He was greeted with a rousing ovation when he moved from the practice green to the first tee with caddie Bruce Edwards, who has Lou Gehrig's disease.

Players were rooting for Watson along with the crowds.

``It's pretty special. He's a fan favorite,'' Furyk said.``He's someone who has been great for golf for a lot of years.''

Watson had a bogey on the par-4 No. 5, but recovered with a birdie at No. 8 to stay close to the top of the leaderboard.

Fans flocked to see Watson, wondering whether he could recapture his championship form of the past.

``Wonders never cease. You don't expect a 53-year-old golfer to be tied for the lead in the U.S. Open, do you?'' Watson asked after his inspirational first round.

Justin Leonard and Jay Don Blake were a stroke back after the first day, while defending champion Tiger Woods trailed by five strokes after an even-par 70 that included an eagle and two bogeys.

Watson turned back the clock at a tournament he won in 1982, and his round Thursday featured two shots for the ages.

His 171-yard eagle with a 6-iron on the 12th was remarkable. And his 45-foot birdie putt on No. 7, two holes before the end of his round, showed what kind of day it was.

The ball sat tantalizingly on the lip for several seconds before dropping, and Watson did a little jig before doffing his cap.

``When that ball fell in, that was something special,'' Watson said. ``It stopped short and people were groaning. I'm walking up to it and said, 'That is so close, how could it not be in?' And then, hey, it went in.'' the U.S. Open.

Can Watson keep it up? Be the player he once was for four straight rounds?

``I am the guy I used to be. I don't have to remember. Maybe it's just for one round, you never know. But let's find out after Sunday,'' he said.

Making Watson's day even more emotional was Edwards, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease in January.

``Bruce doesn't have a lot of time left. He knows the situation,'' Watson said.

Watson and Edwards have been together for most of the last 30 years and both were misty eyed as they neared the last green, remembering all the good times they've had, including the 1982 Open win.

``It was wonderful,'' Edwards said.