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A rare birdie gives Cabrera the lead and sends Mickelson home

Tiger Woods
Simon Bruty/SI
Tiger Woods had six bogeys and two birdies in his second round.

OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — It was a simple shot on a difficult golf course, a 135-yard sand wedge from Angel Cabrera that skidded to a stop a foot from the hole, a rare birdie at Oakmont that changed so many things.

It put Cabrera atop the leaderboard as the sole survivor to par Friday at the U.S. Open.

And it sent Phil Mickelson home early from a major for the first time in eight years.

"I did not knock out Mickelson,'' Cabrera said. "Mickelson knocked himself out. He shot 11 over par.''

But whether it was the 37-year-old Argentine holding a one-shot lead, Paul Casey with a score 11 shots better than the field or Tiger Woods salvaging his hopes out of Church Pew bunkers and devilish rough, there was one consensus.

Oakmont figures to pack the biggest knockout punch of all.

Cabrera's birdie on his final hole gave him a 1-over 71 and a one-shot lead over Bubba Watson. It also ended this U.S. Open for Mickelson and 18 other players who no longer were within 10 shots of the lead.

Considering what the weekend holds, maybe Cabrera did them all a favor.

"If you're a 10-handicapper, there is no way you're breaking 100 out there,'' Woods said, presumably speaking more to fans watching this horror show than the 35 players who couldn't break 80 on Friday.

Cabrera was at even-par 140, the first time since the 1974 U.S. Open at Winged Foot that no one was under par after 36 holes.

"It's a real test of golf, all the way through,'' Watson said after a 71. "Just walking through the parking lot is tough.''

Mickelson found it tougher than ever. The guy with a broken heart from his collapse last year at Winged Foot was no match with a gimp wrist at Oakmont. He slashed out of the rough and chased putts around the hole, leading to a 77 that caused him to miss the cut for the first time in 31 majors, since the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie.

He headed back to his room to "watch the carnage on TV.''

And that's what it was.

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