Nick Price, the first-round leader of the U.S. Open, and Ern
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) _ Nick Price, the first-round leader of the U.S. Open, and Ernie Els, the defending champion, were sitting on a bench on the 18th tee waiting to complete their second round.
Price was trying to keep a round together that would have him within striking distance of the lead after 36 holes. Els was trying to find a way to make the cut.
Price succeeded Friday, shooting a 3-over 73 that left him at 139, four shots behind leader Greg Norman. Els failed as his 73 gave him a 147 total, one stroke off the figure to play the final two rounds.
``I think Ernie was a little depressed,″ Price said of their chat on the 18th tee. ``I said to him `Hey, it’s not going to be the last time you miss a cut in a major championship.′ His game is so close. It doesn’t seem to be that far off. He is a little depressed about not playing well. I can understand totally, because I have been in that situation before.″
Price, 38, then got to what really matters.
``I kept on telling him he’s 26 and he had 20 more U.S. Opens left in him,″ he said. ``It’s not like the end of the world, so I think maybe I cheered him up a little bit. I certainly hope so.″
HAVING WITHDRAWAL: When Tiger Woods withdrew Friday after injuring his left wrist while hitting a ball out of tall grass, the word spread like wildfire throughout the tournament.
Not receiving as much notice was the pre-round withdrawal of Loren Roberts because of a back injury.
Roberts, who lost last year’s Open in a playoff, hurt his back Thursday while marking his ball. He finished the round and had a 73, but was unable to play in the second round.
BROKEN PUTTER: Mike Muehr was walking up the 8th fairway Friday, tapping his putter on the ground as he did. He apparently did it a bit too hard one time and the 23-year-old Duke graduate told USGA official Howdy Giles of the possibly bent putter.
Rule 4-2 says that a player who feels he has a bent club must take it out of play and Muehr did. He putted with a sand wedge the rest of the way and finished with a 10-over-par 80 for a 155 total.
``Talk about integrity,″ Giles said. ``That’s what this game is all about.″
FLOWER CHILD: Jim McGovern and Neal Lancaster played in the opening threesome in Friday’s second round of the U.S. Open. McGovern shot a par round of 70 and Lancaster had a 72, the reverse of their scores from the opening round.
The 142 totals made them a pretty safe bet to make the cut even with their early arrival and McGovern was asked if he would mind playing yet again with Lancaster.
``He’s nuts and I wouldn’t have it any other way,″ McGovern said. ``On 15, Neal hit his ball into some flowers and I turn around as he hits it out and then he comes out with a flower in his hair, tucked behind his ear.″
LEGEND FOLLOWING: Greg Bruckner was in the threesome that played behind the one that included Jack Nicklaus. He didn’t mind the distraction one bit.
``It’s great in the sense that I watched what he was doing,″ Bruckner said after shooting a 72 to go 2 over after 36 holes. ``We had to wait a few times for the gallery to clear and pass through, but it was pretty fun, really.″
It wasn’t for Nicklaus, who had an 81 for a 152 total.