Joined The Augusta Chronicle in 1996 after spending nine years at The Aiken Standard. Served as copy editor, South Carolina bureau chief and Metro Editor before being named Sports Editor in April 2000.
Posted June 15, 2012 01:31 am

U.S. Open: All eyes on Tiger

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the second round of the U.S. Open plays out today at Olympic Club, most eyes will be on one man.

Tiger Woods.

He isn't the leader, but he did shoot 1-under-par 69 on Thursday and is tied for second. Michael Thompson is the first-round leader with a superb 66, but Woods is getting the lion's share of attention.

Most media members who have questioned whether Woods is all the way back after a four-year drought in majors were gushing after his performance Thursday. The 14-time major winner carved up Olympic and seemed to be in total control of his game. He beat his playing partners, Phil Mickelson (76) and Bubba Watson (78), much worse than what appeared on the scorecards.

Now, the question is this: Can he sustain it?

Woods, Mickelson and Watson play together again today and tee off at 4:18 EST. Tune in to find out.

Woods isn't the only storyline to follow this week.

Can Mickelson and Watson bounce back and make the cut today? The USGA has done away with the 10-stroke rule, meaning only the top 60 and ties will advance to the weekend. If Thompson or one of the other leaders gets hot today, it could eliminate some big names.

What about the European Big Three? Luke Donald (79) and Rory McIlroy (77) are in danger of missing the cut, and Lee Westwood didn't get the start he wanted even though his 73 was much better than his counterparts.

Who will emerge today? Look for Jason Dufner (72 on Thursday) to make his move today. He's won twice this year and could have put up a third victory before running out of gas at Colonial.

Who will fall back? It's hard not to think that Thompson has had his 15 minutes of fame. A good story and good player, but we'll see if he can stay on top or near the lead. To paraphrase, the streets are full of first-round leaders at major championships. There is a learning curve.

Sit back and enjoy.