The 30th

June 14, 2008 -

What a difference a day makes.

Tiger Woods roared back into contention yesterday shooting a historic 30, on his back 9, in the second round of the US Open. 30. On an Open course. And here’s the scary part, he hasn’t hit the ball (by his standards) well, yet. On Friday, it was his putter that did the work.

The tournament is over, right?

No.

The leader by one, at 3 under is Stuart Appleby. Appleby is the most prolific winner (with 8 wins to date) on the PGA Tour, of the current crop of great Australian players. He has contended in Majors before, most recently being the 3rd. round leader at the 2007 Masters, and losing a playoff to Ernie Els, in the Open Championship at Muirfield in 2002. Appleby (like most Australians who grow up playing on Poa Annua greens and kikuyu fairways) loves the course conditions at Torrey Pines. It is very similar to the season opening, Mercedes Championship in Hawaii that he has won three times.

The leader board is packed with great players.

Davis Love III has found his stride and wouldn’t it be wonderful if he were to recreate the magic of his PGA Championship, at Winged Foot? On Father’s Day 1997, Love, holed his putt on the last green just as a rainbow draped in the background. Love had tragically lost his Dad, Davis Love 11, in a plane accident two years previously and the scene as he embraced his Mother on that green will endure, forever.

Miguel Angel Jimenez. Jimenez has also enjoyed a renaissance of late by winning twice on the European Tour this year. “The Mechanic” is a much underrated player, who has won 15 times across the pond and who has also contended at other Major Championships. Most notably, when he finished second to Tiger at the centenary Open at Pebble Beach (despite the fact that he finished 15 shots behind Tiger).

Robert Karlsson may not be a household name in the US, yet, but he is the Swedish player with the most wins (7) on the European Tour and he is having a great season. The tall, elegant, Scandinavian has a really good golf swing and an even temperament.

Is there a nicer person on Tour than Rocco Mediate? Now in his mid forties, and healthy (he has struggled with back problems for years) could this be his time? It would be a very popular victory.

Players within 5 shots of the lead include: Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Geoff Ogilvy, Luke Donald and Robert Allenby.

The cream has most certainly risen to the top.

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