After severe thunderstorms marred Day 1 at the 2013 U.S. Open, players returned to Merion Golf Club's East Course on Friday, many looking to improve on their opening round effort and survive the weekend cut.
But despite some stellar play from relative unknown Billy Horschel, Merion has gotten the better of the world's best golfers through the first half of this June's major.
Horschel stole the show on Day 2, outshining the rest of the tournament field to finish the day atop the leaderboard. Will Horschel be this year's Webb Simpson? Or will the favorites battle back into contention?
Below we'll take a look at the leaderboard through the first two rounds of the U.S. Open, highlighting who's on top heading into the weekend.
Billy Horschel (-1)
A 26-year-old American best known for winning the Zurich Classic of New Orleans earlier this year, Billy Horschel bounced back on Day 2, shooting a 3-under 67 to pull under par for the tournament, grabbing a share of the lead.
Horschel, who struggled mightily on the back nine in Thursday's opening round, was impressive throughout the second round on Friday, playing consistent golf from start to finish. His round began with a birdie on hole No. 2 and ended with a birdie on No. 18. There was a bogey on No. 13, but he remained composed.
Horschel hit all 18 greens in regulation, capping off a memorable day and putting himself in excellent position heading into Round 3 (via ESPN.com's Bob Harig):
I was just focused on what I tried to do. I didn't know I hit every green until I walked off 18. It's a cool thing. I've done it plenty of times in my career, obviously it's a U.S. Open, but I think the softness of the greens helped that.
The question now is: How will Horschel respond when the pressure heats up over the weekend?
Phil Mickelson (-1)
Despite beginning his second round with a bogey on hole No. 1, Lefty managed to hang tough on Friday, shooting par for the final eight holes on the front nine before surrendering the outright lead with another bogey on No. 12.
Just when it looked like Mickelson, who bogeyed No. 13 as well, would be trailing heading into the third round, he picked up his first birdie of the second round on the final hole, pumping his fists in relief.
Mickelson's second round was hardly as impressive as his first, but it'll be hard for Lefty to complain given how challenging the course has played up to this point. He's tied for the lead through two rounds, via U.S. Open:
At least 2 players will enter Round 3 under par after Phil's birdie. He's tied at the top with Billy Horschel (-1): http://t.co/ixwegKnZDJ— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 15, 2013
Luke Donald (E)
Luke Donald salvaged a decent second-round score on Friday after coming unglued on the front nine, where he recorded five bogeys through the first seven holes.
The former world No. 1 rebounded nicely, however, picking up three consecutive birdies on hole Nos. 9, 12 and 13. He would bogey No. 15 but close out the round with three straight pars to finish 2-over for the round and even for the tournament.
Considering how much worse things could have been for Donald on Friday, he'll likely be content with his position on the leaderboard coming into Round 3.
With the course playing incredibly tough and Donald just one stroke off the lead, his chances for a major breakthrough look strong.
Justin Rose (E)
Ten years after posting his best-ever finish at the U.S. Open (tied for fifth place at Olympia Fields in 2003), Justin Rose is right in the mix heading into the weekend at Merion.
The 32-year-old followed up a strong opening round with an even better second-round effort, shooting 1-under to pull within a stroke of the lead, putting himself well within striking distance heading into Saturday.
He birdied three of the first eight holes in Round 2, making up for a bogey on No. 6. Although Rose had to settle for par hole after hole on the back nine before bogeying No. 15, that stretch was quite an accomplishment given how some of the game's other top stars fared there on Friday.
Rose has struggled to even make the cut at U.S. Opens in the past. He finished tied for 21st last year after a four-year span of either missing the cut or not playing the year's second major tournament. Therefore, golf fans have got to like where he stands through two rounds.
Steve Stricker (E)
Steve Stricker's momentum from the back nine in the opening round carried over to his play in the second round on Friday, where he opened up with a birdie on hole No. 2 and then rebounded from a bogey on No. 5.
While Stricker's round may look average on paper, based on the way the course was playing on Friday, he was superb.
He birdied Nos. 8 and 13 on his way to shooting a 1-under 69 for the round.
Stricker came closest to winning his first major at the 1998 PGA Championship, finishing runner-up to champion Vijay Singh. His best career finishes at the U.S. Open came in 1998 and 1999 when he finished fifth and tied for fifth, respectively.
Heading into the weekend, the American is in phenomenal shape to win his first major at Merion.
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