Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Major Surprise Unlikely Trio Leads; Tiger 9 Back at Open

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Major Surprise Unlikely Trio Leads; Tiger 9 Back at Open

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

TULSA, Okla. -- With defending champion Tiger Woods struggling, the law of averages and history suggests that someone could very well win a major championship for the first time this week at the 101st U.S. Open.

First, sheer numbers: there's a glaring lack of majors on the resumes of most of the players on the second-round leaderboard at the Southern Hills Country Club.

Then, consider history: the quirky, heavily-wooded track has produced four first-time major champions in the five times it has played host to either an Open or PGA Championship.

But there's one co-leader who does own a major, and he'll take any edge that experience can give him.

Mark Brooks, a 40-year-old PGA Tour veteran and winner of the 1996 PGA Championship, came a shot away from the 18-hole major championship record yesterday on a hot, sparkling Oklahoma afternoon. At 4-under-par 136, he is tied for the Open lead with fellow Texan J.L. Lewis (68) and South African Retief Goosen (70).

Sergio Garcia (68) and Stewart Cink (69) are two shots back at 2 under, David Duval (69) of Ponte Vedra Beach and Phil Mickelson (69) are 1 under and Jim Furyk (70) of Ponte Vedra is even-par. Within range is an international trio of Colin Montgomerie (70) of Scotland, Angel Cabrera (71) of Argentina and Thomas Bjorn (69) of Denmark at 1 over, along with Paul Azinger (67), like Brooks a past PGA champion.

Thursday's thunderstorms backed up play yesterday and forced a continuation of the second round to today.

Twelve groups were left on the course, and will return to finish their second rounds at 8 a.m. today.

Brooks, who hasn't won since the 1996 PGA, would have tied the U.S. Open and major championship record of 63 with a birdie at the par-4 18th hole. An up-and-down par from a greenside bunker gave him a tie for the best second-round score in Open history

Woods shot 74 in the first round for his worst round of the year, and improved only slightly with a 71 in the second round. He's 5-over par and, until two late birdies, had been in serious danger of missing the cut in a major for the first time as a professional. …

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