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McDowell climbs up US leaderboard
Graeme McDowell was rising to the challenge of the US Open again today in San Francisco.
The 2010 champion - he was the first European winner of the title since Tony Jacklin in 1970 - moved into second place on his own with back-to-back birdies at the Olympic Club.
McDowell found the target from nearly 30 feet at the short 15th, his seventh hole of the second round, and when a 12-footer went in on the next - reduced from 670 yards to 609 - he was up to two under par.
That put the 32-year-old only two strokes behind surprise overnight leader Michael Thompson, who was among the day's later starters.
For Rory McIlroy, who kept the trophy in Northern Irish hands last year, and world number one Luke Donald, however, it was all about trying to survive the halfway cut.
And things were still not looking good for either of them as they covered the back nine in 37 and 38 respectively.
On eight over par, the 23-year-old McIlroy was in 112th spot and needed to climb into the top 60 to avoid a fourth missed cut in his last five starts.
Donald knew he had a mountain to climb when he resumed in 140th place after a bitterly disappointing 79.
That round did not have a single birdie in it, but although he picked up shots on the ninth and 14th on his return, his tally of bogeys for the week went to 12 when he dropped further strokes at the 11th, 13th and 16th.
As he entered the feared opening six-hole stretch, Donald remained in a tie for 140th and at 10 over he probably needed to find three more birdies just to have a chance of contesting the weekend.