| Vijai Singh of Fiji looks at his putt at Olympia Fields during the US Open Friday. (Reuters)
Olympia Fields (Illinois), June 14 (Reuters): Vijai Singh became the fourth player in US Open history to card a 63 on Friday, tying Jim Furyk for the second-round lead as defending champion Tiger Woods moved ominously into contention.
In benign conditions at a receptive Olympia Fields Country Club, red-hot Singh reeled off five birdies in six holes after the turn to draw level with Furyk, who had fired a four-under-par 66 that was later matched by Woods.
“I felt good out there and played really well,” said the 40-year-old Singh, who finished at seven-under 133. “I was pumped up and, when you feel like that, you want to do well all the time.
“But there are two more days to go. I’m going to focus on what I’m trying to do tomorrow and try to forget this round.”
Fijian Singh, who also fired a 63 in the 1993 US PGA Championship in Inverness, missed birdie opportunities from around 12 feet on both the 16 and 17 to cost himself the chance of shooting the first 62 at a major championship.
However, his round of 63 was the 21st to be achieved in a major and he became the second player, after Greg Norman, to have done so twice. Only Johnny Miller, at Oakmont in 1973; Jack Nicklaus, at Baltusrol in 1980; and Tom Weiskopf, also at Baltusrol in 1980, have previously shot 63s at a US Open.
The 33-year-old Furyk, who possesses one of the most unorthodox swings in the game, had earlier reeled off four birdies in a blemish-free display to set a record tournament aggregate of 133.
The previous mark of 134 was jointly held by Nicklaus, at Baltusrol in 1980; Tze-Chung Chen, at Oakland Hills in 1985; Lee Janzen, at Baltusrol in 1993; and Woods, at Pebble Beach in 2000.
Australia’s Stephen Leaney carded a two-birdie 68 to lie third with American Jonathan Byrd (66) at four-under-par 135.
Woods was a further stroke back in a share of fifth, level with Nick Price (65), Justin Leonard (70), Argentina’s Eduardo Romero (66) and Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson (67).
World No. 1 Woods, who eked out a scrappy 70 on Thursday, got off to a flier by sinking long-range birdie putts at the first and fourth holes to move to two-under.
Although the 27-year-old American, bidding this week for his third US Open crown in four years, bogeyed the par-four fifth after his approach spun sharply back off the front green, he recovered with an easy birdie-four at the 555-yard sixth.
Another birdie followed at the ninth, where he rifled his approach to just three feet, but he missed the green with his second shot at the 467-yard 11th and failed to get up and down to salvage par.
Further birdies on 13 and 16 lifted Woods to four under, where he remained.
“I hit the ball a little better today and gave myself some chances,” Woods said. “I felt more comfortable with my swing so I shaded the ball maybe a yard or two towards the flag. I feel pretty good. Any time you’re under par at a US Open after two days, you’ve got a chance. I’m right where I need to be.”
Tom Watson, who fired a scintillating five-under-par 65 on Thursday to share the first-round lead, failed to repeat the magic. The 53-year-old American, who won the 1982 US Open at Pebble Beach, had to settle for a 72, and a three-under total of 137.
Sixty-eight players made Friday’s halfway cut at three-over 143, the lowest in US Open history. Among those missing out were former major champions Jose Maria Olazabal (144), Paul Lawrie (149), Nick Faldo, David Duval, Rich Beem (all 150) and Davis Love III (151).