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Watson Slips Furyk Rises to the Top

OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. -- A bit of magic evaporated into the Chicago gloaming Thursday. Just 13 hours after an enchanting opening round 65, Tom Watson returned to the Olympia Fields course Friday morning.
He said he didnt care if he shot 90. That Thursdays memories were enough to conquer any ill results thereafter. He didnt come close to that number, rather shooting 2-over 72.
The lead was lost, as were a bit of emotion and some momentum, but not his chance of winning 21 years after conquering Pebble Beach.
Yes, I can, Watson replied when asked if he could still win this event. A lot of things have to go my waybut I have a chance.
Watson now stands at 3-under par, four strokes behind current clubhouse leader Jim Furyk. Furyk shot 66 in round two, and had a couple of great opportunities to shave even more from that score.
As it is, he is three clear, at 7-under-par 133, of Swedens Fredrik Jacobson, who shot 67, 46-year-old Nick Price and 48-year-old Argentine Eduardo Romero. Fellow overnight co-leader Brett Quigley shot 74 and dipped to 1-under.
Like wine, more older, more better, said Romero, an eight-time winner on the European Tour.
El Gato ' The Cat, in Spanish; nicknamed by his grandmother who said he was always climbing in trees and on houses ' shot 66 Friday for his first sub-70 posting in 16 career Open rounds. Price shot 65, his lowest number in 57 career rounds in this event.
Price said he found a couple of flaws in his game on the back nine in round one, and was able to work them out with David Leadbetter. It showed in the form of five birdies and no bogeys in round two.
Youve got to do everything well to shoot 65 at the Open, and I did today, said Price, who hit 11 of 14 fairways, 14 of 18 greens in regulation and took 27 putts.
Sometimes it just takes a key to get everything going. And if he can keep it going, he can add this title to his Hall of Fame resume that includes two PGA Championship titles and one British Open crown.
Ive felt like this is my championship, that I could win, he said of the event.
Price has three top-10s in 16 prior starts, including a tie for eighth a year ago, despite being quite critical of the way the USGA set up a few of the holes on the Black Course at Bethpage.
If they had set Bethpage up like this, they probably would have had one of the best U.S. Opens of all time, he said.
Furyk missed the cut a year ago ' a bit of a surprise for a man who hits it fairly long, drives it unusually straight, and putts like he knows what he is doing.
But Bethpage proved a bit too much of a test for most. Olympia Fields is different. The soft conditions have led to lower numbers, and no one at the moment is lower than Furyk.
The course is pretty straight-forward, Furyk said. Your game tends to lend itself well to certain courses than others. This course probably tends to lend itself to me a little better than Bethpage did last year.
Like Price, Furyk toured Olympia Fields in a bogey-free manner Friday. And like Price, he also established a new career best in this championship. It could have been lower. He had a 15-footer for birdie at 17 that he missed, as well as one from seven feet at the last.
Im very happy with my position, obviously, he said. I just need to knock in a couple of more putts.
Though it wasnt the follow-up he would have scripted, Watson is also pleased with his standing. He had two birdies, two bogeys and a double in the sequel. The double bogey came at the par-4 12th, where he holed his approach shot for eagle a day ago.
Played it even par for two days, cant complain, he said of No. 12.
Much has been made of the 53-year-olds relationship with his caddie, Bruce Edwards, who is suffering from ALS. Friday wasnt as emotional as the day before; no tears were shed this go-around. But both couldnt help but appreciate the massive gallerys support.
We heard, Cmon, Bruce, Were pulling for you, Bruce, relayed Watson.
This may turn out to be the last time the 30-year partners team in an event ' let alone Watsons favorite. It may also turn out to be the eight-time major winners final burst of steam up to the mountain top.
Id like my last big run to be in the next 36 holes, he said. Then I might say, See ya, boys and girls.
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