Phil Mick­el­son’s US Open drama: birdies, bo­geys, seag­ulls, oh my!

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Tod Leonard

PEB­BLE BEACH — The ball-hunt­ing seag­ull should have been the hint for Phil Mick­el­son that he was go­ing to have a wild back nine on Fri­day at Peb­ble Beach.

There were birdies all around, and bo­geys, too, as Mick­el­son recorded only three pars on the in­com­ing nine, and he still man­aged to be on the fringe of con­tention in the U.S. Open.

The San Die­gan shot 2-un­der-par 69 and stood at 1 un­der over­all, eight shots off the lead of Gary Wood­land head­ing into the week­end.

The back nine got off to a bizarre start af­ter Mick­el­son split the fair­way with his drive at the dif­fi­cult par-4 10th. As the golfers left the tee, Fox tele­vi­sion cam­eras caught a seag­ull strolling up to Mick­el­son’s ball. The bird ex­am­ined it and plucked it off the grass, only to drop it a few sec­onds later.

An of­fi­cial was on hand to help Mick­el­son re­place his ball.

Of course, Mick­el­son fol­lowed the birdie with a birdie on the hole, drain­ing a 27-foot putt.

From there, Mick­el­son made bo­gey at 12, birdies at 13 and 14, and bo­geys at 15 and 17.

The usu­ally un­der­stated Scott Piercy had one of the great lines of the week.

“They should call me David Cop­per­field to­day. That was magic,” the San Diego State alum said wryly af­ter he shot 1-over 72. “The places I hit it — it was ter­ri­ble. It was ter­ri­ble, and the put­ter was just amaz­ing.”

Piercy capped his round of one birdie and two bo­geys by mak­ing a 25-foot putt for par on his last hole, the ninth. He bo­geyed the par-5 18th for the sec­ond straight day.

De­spite the tra­vails, the 40-year-old seek­ing his first ma­jor win was tied for 12th at 3 un­der.

Jor­dan Spi­eth had a bizarre en­counter with a bunker rake in his round of 69.

At the par-4 sec­ond, Spi­eth drove into the right fair­way bunker. From there, he pow­ered a low 6-iron that struck a rake that was placed on the edge of the bunker di­rectly in front of him.

“Oh, it hit a rake! There’s a rake there!” Spi­eth ex­claimed to his cad­die, Michael Greller.

Spi­eth’s bad break was com­pounded when the ball didn’t carry very far and he ended up in the heavy rough. He had to punch out to the fair­way, and then made a tremen­dous save of bo­gey when he rolled in a putt from 10 feet.

“Hon­estly, the only up­set­ting part was where the ball went af­ter that, be­cause it’s on me to hit the rake,” Spi­eth said. “Some­times it’d hit the rake and pop up and be on the fair­way, right? But it ended up in a pretty bad spot. I did well to a make a 5, for sure.”

At 1 un­der for the tour­na­ment, Spi­eth is still in con­tention de­spite suf­fer­ing eight bo­geys, in­clud­ing five in the sec­ond round.

“To be un­der par at the U.S. Open with eight bo­geys in two days means things are in a good place, just got to limit those mis­takes,” Spi­eth said. “They re­ally come from iron play; iron and wedges. Just got to fine tune.”

Aaron Wise, who was born in South Africa and grew up in Lake Elsi­nore, sounded like a nor­mal 22-year-old who’s just happy to be play­ing on the week­end in the


Phil Mick­el­son ac­knowl­edges the crowd on the 17th hole dur­ing the sec­ond round of the U.S. Open on Fri­day in Peb­ble Beach.

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