Pinehurst, N.C. — U.S. Open golf courses tend to be gas guzzlers, tearing through the mental and physical fuel tanks of the world’s best golfers.
Pinehurst No. 2, with its weedy, sandy, waste-land roughs hugging the fairway on both sides and its turtleback greens, has a different look and feel from most, but it has the same effect on the fuel tank of the players as most Open courses.
Gary Woodland experienced that for the second day in a row Friday, starting a great deal better than he finished. Woodland carded a 32-39 — 71, one day after starting on No. 10 and beginning his round with a 34 and finishing with a 38 for a 72.
His two-day total of 3-over par put Woodland 13 strokes behind leader Martin Kaymer.
Woodland looked so confident and in control in carding three birdies through seven holes, one courtesy of his jarring a 25-foot, downhill putt on No. 4, a 523-yard par 4.
Two of his six pars on the front side were earned with sand saves. Five holes into his round, Woodland had hit more fairways (five) than he had all round Thursday.
Then Woodland made the turn Friday and wasn’t the same player. He carded four bogeys on the back side, including three on the final four holes.
The first came on No. 10, when his drive barely trickled into the waste area and left him with a rotten lie. He looked at it and summoned a rules official.
“My ball rolled into a hole,” Woodland said. “I asked for a drop and didn’t get it, and I had to pop it out of there and get it down the fairway.”
He did that, though not too far down the fairway, hit his third shot into a green-side bunker, and didn’t get up and down on the par-5 hole.
His next misstep came on No. 15, when he three-putted.
“I wasn’t as upset about that as the bogeys I made on the final two holes.”
He also bogeyed his final two holes in Thursday’s opening round.
“I don’t think it was the three-putt, or the way I played any particular hole as much as I ran out of gas,” Woodland said. “I didn’t eat enough, and that’s on me for not getting the proper nutrition in the morning. I just had nothing left in the tank coming in and I started feeling it at the end with those bogeys.”
North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams briefly was in the gallery watching Woodland, J.B. Holmes and Graham DeLaet.
Woodland did a far better job of keeping his cool when bitten by the inevitable trouble spots on Pinehurst than did his playing partners.
On the eighth hole, DeLaet needed to sink a 20-foot putt to save triple bogey. At one point, he declared an unplayable lie and after his drop rolled up against TV cables, he picked up the cables and slammed them hard to move them out of the way.
On No. 17, Holmes’ shot out of a green-side bunker landed way short. First he took it out on the sand, slamming the heel of his club into it. Then he took it out on the club, hurling it to the ground.
Outwardly, Woodland kept his composure. Inwardly, giving back such a terrific start, plus one stroke, took its toll, but didn’t damage his outlook heading into today’s third round.
“I’m going to get re-charged, get back out there,” Woodland said. “I feel confident that I can play well and get a good score.”
It’s going to take more than a good score for Woodland and most of the rest of the field to get close to Kaymer.
“Martin is playing great right now,” Woodland said. “We saw that out of him at the Players, and for him to come back from where he was is really impressive. The good news is there’s not a lot of guys that far off except him. Obviously, we all have to hope that Martin comes back to us.”