Notes Gore a Surprise So Too Campbell


PINEHURST, N.C. -- This isn't the first time Jason Gore has led at the U.S. Open.
Seven years ago at Olympic, he holed out from about 60 yards for a birdie on the first hole, and since he was in the first group, his name went to the top of the leaderboard.
This time, though, it's a little sweeter: He's there after 36 holes.
The 31-year-old veteran of the Nationwide Tour shot a 3-under 67 Friday in the second to tie defending champ Retief Goosen and Olin Browne. They have a one-shot advantage over K.J. Choi and Mark Hensby.
'This is old hat for me,' Gore quipped.
He eventually missed the cut in 1998, his only previous Open. During two brief stints on the PGA Tour, Gore has a best finish of 18th in the 2001 Las Vegas Classic.
But most of his success has been one level down. He has three career victories on the Nationwide Tour - none since the 2002 Boise Open - and wouldn't mind leaving that tour for good.
'It's a great place, and don't get me wrong, I don't want to be there next week, but really, your golf game does your talking,' he said. 'That's really all there is. I haven't played well enough to keep my card. I've become a stronger person for that, and maybe that's all just starting to pan out.'
He started his round Friday on the back with a birdie at No. 10, lost a stroke to par on the next hole, then got two birdies in a row. After turning in 34, he closed with a 33 on the front, highlighted by a 2 at the difficult par-3 sixth.
'You know, I'll watch TV tonight and I'll get beat up by the press, but I really have nothing to do,' Gore said. 'This is really just an opportunity for me to play well. I'm the underdog and it's going to be kind of fun.'
Michael Campbell's season started terribly in Europe. He got back on form in time for a trip to the U.S. Open.
The 36-year-old New Zealander put together a morning round of 1-under 69 in the second round to move to even par for the tournament, tied for sixth and just two strokes off the lead.
'I teed off at 7:30 in the morning and it was very benign conditions and not much wind around, and the greens were pretty receptive out there, so you could attack them a little bit more,' Campbell said. 'Two shots easier today, definitely.'
After missing the cut in his first five European Tour events, he has four top-15 finishes in his past seven, including a tie for third at the Johnnie Walker Classic. This is Campbell's best showing in the Open since 2000, when he tied for 12th at Pebble Beach.
Of course, that's the year Tiger Woods blitzed the field by 15 shots. Now Campbell is challenging for the lead of a major for the first time since 1995, when he was the third-round leader at the British Open.
'Seems like a century ago,' he said. 'I know what it takes to win a major championship. It's nice to be up there amongst the best in the world now.'
Nick Jones' first trip to the U.S. Open was sure to be memorable - even before he made a strange triple bogey at the 18th hole.
On his approach shot, he and caddie Andrew Pfannkuche miscalculated the yardage a bit - OK, a lot - and the ball flew well over the green, struck the grandstands and bounced onto the roof of the stately clubhouse.
'We had no idea the ball was going to fly like that,' Pfannkuche said.
Jones thought he might still be in decent shape, since players who wind up behind the green have a drop area near the cart path, with no penalty stroke. But because his ball caught the metal stands first, he was forced to play from the other side of the green in the heavy rough, with very little green to work with.
'I dropped it in a bad spot,' Jones said.
It only got worse. He hit a decent flop shot that just trickled past the pin and continued to roll until it found its way into one of the many collection areas surrounding the greens at No. 2. This time, he played a bump-and-run with a mid-iron that appeared to be perfect.
Only this shot again kept going, ending up on the other side of the green. Jones finally reached the putting surface and took two more strokes to find the hole, ending with a 7.
'It's just an unfortunate break,' he said.
Jones did manage to steady himself after the debacle at 18 and finished with an even-par 35 on his final nine holes, completing a 75.
North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley never had much luck driving a race car, and he wanted no part during a visit to Pinehurst on Friday.
During a celebration of motorsports earlier this year near the Capitol, he lost control of a race car and slid over a curb. He crashed at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 2003 when driving one about 120 mph.
'I've only had one wreck, and that wasn't my fault,' Easley said. 'The car was loose and it spun out a little bit. But that driving is very similar to my golf driving. The best part of my game is hitting out of sand traps because I do it a lot.'
Jay Haas made quite an improvement in the second round, finishing with a 70 after an 82 on Thursday. He still missed the cut by four shots. ... Peter Jacobsen, like Haas another 50-something player, hung around for the weekend after rounds of 72-73. Playing in his first Open since 1996, he got in via his victory in the U.S. Senior Open last year. ... After winning The Memorial last week, Bart Bryant never got comfortable on the tricky greens at No. 2 and wound up with a 13-over total of 153.
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - 105th U.S. Open
  • Full Coverage - 105th U.S. Open

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