OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — Angel Cabrera was the last survivor to par Friday, but only because of an amazing birdie on his final hole that made Phil Mickelson extinct at this U.S. Open.
Cabrera finished off a calamitous day at Oakmont with a sand wedge from 135 yards that skipped to a stop about a foot from the hole, giving him a 1-over 71 and a one-shot lead over Bubba Watson. That put him at even-par 140 and knocked 19 players out of the tournament because they were no longer within 10 shots of the lead.
No casualty was more significant than Mickelson.
Trying to recover from a broken heart last year at Winged Foot and a left wrist injury he blamed on Oakmont’s rough, Mickelson missed the cut for the first time in 31 majors dating to the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.
Mickelson figured he had no chance when he signed for a 77, saying he would “go watch the carnage on TV.”
That it was.
Greens that had been cut three times and rolled twice, combined with warm sunshine that cooked the course, led to only two rounds under par and the highest weekday scoring at a U.S. Open in 21 years.
“I don’t know what the average score was, but I think I shot under par,” Tiger Woods said after salvaging a 74 that put him five back.
Even more shocking than the toughness of Oakmont was seeing Paul Casey with a 66, a round so superb that players on the practice green who watched him finish on No. 9 applauded when he knocked in his final putt.
That was 11 shots better than the average score.
“I consider the U.S. Open to be the toughest test in golf,” Casey said. “This is possibly the toughest golf course I’ve ever played, and I feel very, very lucky to have shot 66 on it. There is no rest out there.”
And there might not be any relief in sight.
The USGA said it would water the greens overnight, but with more sunshine in the forecast, Oakmont figures to get even more brutal.
Stephen Ames had the other subpar round (69), leaving him at 142 along with Aaron Baddeley (70), Justin Rose (71) and Niclas Fasth (71). Casey was at 143, with David Toms in the group another shot behind.
“It’s a real test of golf, all the way through,” Watson said. “Just walking through the parking lot is tough.”
The USGA, as usual, offered no apologies.
Never mind that no one was under par after 36 holes for the first time since 1974 at Winged Foot. Or that the scoring average was the highest before the cut was made at the U.S. Open since 77.8 in the wind-blown first round at Shinnecock Hills in 1986. Or that 35 players, including Adam Scott and Padraig Harrington, failed to break 80.
“It’s a hard golf course. We’ve said that all along,” said Jim Hyler, head of the championship committee for the USGA.
Mickelson wasn’t the only one checking out at Oakmont. Five of the top 10 players in the world ranking failed to make the cut, the others being Scott, Henrik Stenson, Luke Donald and Retief Goosen.
Trevor Immelman leaned against a wall in the locker room after a 79 that eventually sent him home. He stared blankly at the television, watching other players suffer, trying to come to grips with how Casey posted five birdies and only one bogey.
“The greatest round I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Immelman, who played with the Englishman. “He beat me by 13 shots. That’s almost giving him one shot per hole.”