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U.S. Open 2019: Gary Woodland atop loaded leaderboard at Pebble Beach

June 15, 2019

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Through two rounds at the U.S. Open, the top of the leaderboard is chock-full of big names and big storylines. Let’s buzz through them.

Brooks Koepka is seeking his third consecutive U.S. Open and his fifth major championship in nine tries. Matt Kuchar is questing to cap off a 2019 renaissance with a career-defining win. Chez Reavie is fighting for the little guy. Rory McIlroy is battling to end a five-year major drought. Aaron Wise looks to establish himself among the best young players in the game. Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Rose are looking for their second major championships, sending their careers to another level. And those are just the guys in the top 10.

They all trail one man, Gary Woodland, who got red-hot Friday and punctuated his six-under 65 with a cracking par save on 8 and a lengthy birdie putt on the 9th hole, posting 9-under 133 through 36 holes.

Woodland’s round was workmanlike and blemish-free. He started on No. 10, birdied No. 12 and No. 16 and made the turn in style with a birdie at No. 1, too, surging within a shot of the lead.

But Woodland’s round reached another level in the closing holes. At No. 5, he canned a 15-footer for birdie. At 6, he hit the green in two and cleaned up another birdie. Facing adversity at No. 8, he rammed in his bogey putt.

And then there was the Friday night feel-good finish at No. 9.

Woodland is famous for being a big hitter, but he’s getting most of his work at Pebble Beach done with the flatstick. Through two rounds, he has gained over seven strokes on the field putting, best of any player.

Justin Rose (-7) and Louis Oosthuizen (-6) are his closest competition, with Aaron Wise and Rory McIlroy (-5) one shot further back. Woodland and Rose tee off in the final pairing Saturday afternoon.