U.S. Open leaderboard: Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy make early 2nd round moves

USA TODAY Sports

On his second loop through, Luke Donald is back where he started on Friday morning -- with a one-shot lead heading into the toughest stretch of Merion's East Course.

The first round is officially in the books at Merion, and most of the morning wave for the second round is now out on the course as the 2013 U.S. Open batters the field of 156. Only six players are under par early in the second round, with the soggy East Course drying out and firming up for the usual, or even tougher-than-usual, U.S. Open conditions.

Tiger Woods continued his struggle early on Friday morning, finishing his final eight holes of the first round at 1-over to card a 3-over 70. He had little more than an hour to regroup and rest an ailing elbow before heading back out for the second round. Woods and his playing partners, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, were scheduled to start on Merion's difficult back nine for the second round. The five finishing holes crushed the superstar trio earlier in the day, so the draw of playing that stretch consecutively was a bit of a bad break.

With those five holes looming, Tiger had to get off to a quick start and pick up some birdie chances on the stretch before No. 14. He did just that and got one back at the easy par-3 13th hole, which is playing just over 100 yards. That's a simple wedge-and-putt distance for the best players in the world, and Tiger drilled his second birdie of the day there to get to 2-over.

Ahead of Tiger is Rory, who also took advantage of the easier holes at the open to pick up red numbers on Nos. 11 and 12. The setting is far different than Rory's cruise at Congressional, another mid-Atlantic venue that was hammered by rain. Merion, however, is tighter and back to playing firm and fast, and Rory battled to keep it in the ballpark in his first 18 holes. Those two birdies to start put him at 1-over and in prime position to make a move into the red.

The other big early second round mover is Luke Donald, who is back on top of the leaderboard after a chip-in birdie on the par-3 13th. Donald went to sleep with a one-shot lead over Phil Mickelson last night, but that finishing stretch got him coming in this morning as he dropped to 2-under. Just a few hours later, he now enters that same five-hole stretch with the exact same lead. Can he and Tiger maneuver through unscathed and put some pressure on Mickelson, who's sitting around waiting for his late afternoon tee time?

Here's a current snapshot of the leaderboard and some notables out early in the second round:

Player Score Thru
Luke Donald -4 4
Phil Mickelson -3 3:41 p.m.
Matthew Goggin -2 11:35 a.m.
John Senden -1 5
K.J. Choi -1 3
Nicolas Colsaerts -1 3:30 p.m.
Russell Knox -1 11:50 a.m.
Rickie Fowler E 4:36 p.m.
Rory McIlroy 1 3
Ernie Els 1 2
Lee Westwood E F
Webb Simpson 3 2
Adam Scott 2 F
Tiger Woods 2 3

More golf from SB Nation:

Can Tiger win his 15th major with one arm?

Westwood first victim of Merion's wicker baskets

Tiger playing with injured wrist? | Golfers get weird during rain delay

Highlights from Thursday's round

A guide to the East Course at Merion Golf Club

Four Days in Fort Worth: Putting on a PGA Tour event

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