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Beau Hossler, 17, has fling at top of U.S. Open leaderboard

Amateur Beau Hossler acknowledges crowd Olympic Club after taking lead with birdie his 11th hole Friday. | Charlie Riedel~AP

Amateur Beau Hossler acknowledges the crowd at the Olympic Club after taking the lead with a birdie on his 11th hole Friday. | Charlie Riedel~AP

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Updated: July 17, 2012 12:54PM



SAN FRANCISCO — For a while there, it was a Cinderella story. Then it turned into a fairy tale.

You could almost hear Bill ­Murray chopping down flowers with that garden tool while he gushed about Beau Hossler:

“Here’s the unknown 17-year-old from Santa Margarita High School in California. Already committed to playing at the University of Texas. Leads the U.S. Open.’’

Then Hossler, like so many experienced world-class ­golfers around him, turned into a ­pumpkin.

While Tiger Woods was going the wrong way Friday with three consecutive bogeys on Nos. 5, 6 and 7, Hossler kept his cool. On a course that frayed the nerves of many a veteran, the high school kid had ice water in his veins.

A routine birdie on the treacherous No. 1, his 11th hole, moved Hossler to 2 under at the Olympic Club and atop the leaderboard. But he went 5 over on the next five holes and wound up shooting 73. He is 3 over for the tournament.

“I felt I was getting into a little bit of a zone. Unfortunately, I kind of lost it coming in,’’ said Hossler, who saw his name atop a scoreboard at the second tee. “I was pretty excited about it. But then again, I had another 40 holes at least to be playing in the tournament. You’ve got a long way to go. You can’t get too wrapped up in where you’re at.’’

Hossler’s collapse left the 36-hole lead shared by Woods, who shot an up-and-down 70; Jim Furyk, who shot a steady 1-under 69; and David Toms, who shot 70. The leaders are 1 under for the tournament and bracing for a tough weekend on awkwardly sloping fairways and relentlessly firm greens.

“That was not easy,’’ Woods said. “I just had to stay as patient as possible, and I did a real good job of that. This tournament is just plodding along. This is a different tournament. You have to stay patient. This is not a tournament where we have to make a bunch of birdies.’’

Michael Thompson, the first-round leader after shooting a 4-under 66, slipped to a 5-over 75 and is 1 over after 36 holes.

Phil Mickelson, who is 7 over, made the cut, shooting 71 to follow up a disappointing first-round 76. Masters champion Bubba Watson, who played with Woods and Mickelson in a celebrated threesome, went 9 over and missed the cut.

Oregon golf coach Casey Martin, who once challenged the golf establishment’s rule against carts, also shot 9 over, one shot short of the 8-over cut line.

While superstar Woods and feel-good unknowns such as Hossler and Thompson have been garnering a lot of attention, the underappreciated and overlooked grinders are lurking, as they often do at the U.S. Open.

Furyk, who won the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields, and Graeme McDowell, who won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach two years ago, kept themselves in position to join a select group that has won multiple U.S. Opens. Toms, who won the 2001 PGA, also is seeking his second major title.

“You have to play Jim Furyk golf,’’ said McDowell, who is 1 over after being paired with Furyk for the first 36 holes. “He doesn’t take chances he doesn’t have to take. When he gets in trouble, he gets it back in the fairway. He putts well. Hopefully, that’s my type of golf, as well.’’

Under control is what wins U.S. Opens. Even Woods, when he has been on his game, has been keeping his nose to the grindstone.

“I don’t like the word plodder,’’ McDowell said. “It’s kind of ­disrespectful. I think it’s an aggressive-to-conservative targets type player. You’ve got to take your shots on but play safe.’’

Like Woods, Furyk has no issue with the P word.

“I kind of plodded along today,’’ he said. “The way the golf course is set up, that’s pretty much what you need to do. It’s ‘Get the ball in a playable spot as best you can and try to make 4.’ Plod, I think, is a good word. You take what the course gives you and play the best you can from there.’’



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