Friday, 13 June 2003
European Tour Honorary Member Vijay Singh came within a whisker of creating golfing history as he enjoyed a glorious afternoon in Illinois to move into a share of the lead with Jim Furyk at the halfway stage of the 103rd US Open Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club.

The 40 year old Fijian started the day at level par but ended it on seven under par 133 after a stunning 63 which featured a back nine of 29. At its conclusion, Singh had a putt on the 18th green to become the first player to shoot 62 in a Major Championship, but the ball just stayed above ground.

It proved the end to a rollercoaster round for the winner of the 1998 US PGA Championship and the 2000 Masters Tournament, who pitched in for an eagle three at the first, suffered two bogeys on the outward half, but who rattled in seven birdies elsewhere, five in six holes from the tenth.

“I played nicely today and hit a lot of good shots,” said Singh. “But I have been playing well lately and therefore I was not afraid to take the course on.

“I told my caddie before the week started that I felt I was going to play a bit more aggressively than I normally do because I feel I can do that when I feel I am playing well. But I don’t think I could be any happier than I am at the moment.”

Singh’s round was in direct contrast to US Ryder Cup player Furyk who carded a flawless 66 with his only departures from par being birdies at the first, sixth, 13th and 14th. It saw him sit alongside Singh on seven under par 133, the lowest score recorded at the halfway stage in US Open history.

Two shots behind the leading duo, there was further good news for The European Tour contingent as Stephen Leaney moved a share of third place with American Jonathan Byrd after adding a 68 to his opening 67 for a five under par total of 135.

If Furyk’s round was well constructed, Leaney’s was almost perfect, the Australian carding 16 pars with birdies at the first and 18th holes.

While most people’s interest in the group on four under par 136 centred on defending champion and World Number One Tiger Woods, who carded a second round 66, there was also considerable European Tour interest in two of the players alongside him on that mark, Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson and Eduardo Romero of Argentina.

Jacobson, already a double winner on The 2003 European Tour International Schedule, followed up his opening 69 with an excellent 67 while Romero, who beat
Jacobson in a play-off for last year's Barclays Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, went one better, adding a 66 to his first round 70.

For Jacobson, the fairytale continued. The 28 year old Swede, winner of the Omega Hong Kong Open and the Algarve Open de Portugal this year, had to travel to the sectional qualifying in America a fortnight ago to secure his debut in the event.

He managed that in considerable style, finishing number one in the competition at Old Oaks Country Club in New York state and continued in a similar vein when the competition proper moved westwards to the suburbs of Chicago.

Starting his second round at the tenth, Jacobson recovered from an early dropped shot at the 14th with a birdie at the 16th before turning on the style turning for home with birdies at the third, fourth and seventh.

After parring the eighth, Jacobson left himself a monster putt on his final green of the day, the ninth, but from fully 80 feet away at the front of the putting surface, the Swede rolled his ball to within three feet of the cup from where he holed out for par.

If Jacobson's start had been a little uncertain, Romero's could not have been more opposite, holing out for eagle three on the 576 yard first hole. From there, the 49 year old continued to prosper, especially on the back nine with birdies at the tenth, 12th, and 13th.

Further down the leaderboard there was further good news for The European Tour contingent, with Alex Cejka, Darren Clarke and two time champion Ernie Els finishing on one under par 139 after respective second rounds of 66, 69 and 70.

Clarke, who partnered leader Furyk and Phil Mickelson, said: "One under is not too bad. I gave myself chances, hit it close and hit good putts but too many of them spun out.

"But I had fun out there. Myself, Jim and Phil all played some good golf in parts of our round. We all have different styles but there were a lot of good shots played out there especially from Jim who played fantastically well - he'll be the man to beat this week."

Other European Tour Members to survive the cut which fell at three over par 143 were Angel Cabrera and Bernhard Langer (both level par 140), Padraig Harrington, Peter Lonard and Justin Rose (all one over par 141), and Brian Davis, Niclas Fasth, Sergio Garcia, Colin Montgomerie and Retief Goosen (all three over par 143).

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