A rare birdie gives Cabrera the lead and sends Mickelson home

"The greatest round I've ever seen in my life,'' said Immelman, who played with the Englishman. "He beat me by 13 shots. That's almost giving him one shot per hole.''

Casey didn't exactly have his way with Oakmont. He birdied the two toughest holes in the second round, including a 45-foot putt on the treacherous 10th green. And he saved a couple of pars with putts that felt as though they would slide off the green if the hole didn't happen to get in the way.

"I know the scores are quite high today and I shot a low number,'' Casey said. "But I don't think we've seen half of Oakmont yet.''

The only other time Cabrera has had the lead in a major was three years ago after the first round at Shinnecock Hills. Watson, the biggest hitter on the PGA Tour who is using several irons to keep the ball in play, is playing in his first U.S. Open and hasn't won anything since the Hooters Tour four years ago.

Along with a challenging course, they now must cope with the nerves of playing in the last group on the weekend at a major.

"I'm always nervous,'' Watson said. "The U.S. Open is going to be bigger crowds, and I'm going to be just as nervous and feel like throwing up the whole time.''

Indeed, it was a sick feeling for everyone.

Defending champion Geoff Ogilvy shot a 75 and was still in the game at 146, but it sure didn't feel like it.

"You're satisfied when you look back on it and see that you did it better than anybody else,'' he said. "But fun? No.''

David Toms had a share of the lead for the second straight day, but like so many other players, Oakmont eventually got the best of him. He bogeyed five of his last six holes Thursday, and played his last five holes Friday in 4 over par.

Even so, he was at 144, along with Scott Verplank (71) and Brandt Snedeker (73).

"They teased us yesterday with some of the easy pin positions, and today when you woke up, they let you know we're at Oakmont,'' Snedeker said. "It's just going to be a tough round of golf.''

Woods figured that out when he started to hit his tee shots into the ankle-deep rough, and it really hit home when his approach landed on the front part of the first green and never had a chance to go anywhere but into the rough.

"Thank God I had spikes on, because I think I would have slipped right off the back,'' he said.

His ugliest hole saved his round - an iron he pulled into the rough, a second shot that caromed off the bank and into the bottom of a shallow ditch, a third shot into a bunker on the other side of the green, and an up-and-down for bogey.

It is days like this that make players wonder whether the U.S. Open is any fun or the course is fair.

"It's a mean course,'' Jim Furyk said after a 75 put him at 6-over 146. "Rarely do you hit a marginal shot and get away with it. And oftentimes, you hit a pretty darn good shot and it doesn't turn out well.''

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