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US Open: Officials play down Tiger Woods' criticism

US Open officials have played down criticism of their championship set-up by world number one Tiger Woods.

Woods described the greens at Pebble Beach last night as "bouncy" and "awful" after he took 34 putts to shoot an opening, three-over-par 74 to lie five strokes off the first round lead held by Paul Casey, Brendon De Jonge and Shaun Micheel.

Asked if Woods had given a fair assessment of the Pebble Beach putting conditions, US Open set-up man Mike Davis, the United States Golf Association's senior director, rules and competitions, preferred to see the comments as an outburst made in the heat of competition.

"Honestly, the way I see it is that he just finished a competitive round, the last part of his round didn't go as well as he wanted it to go, and we all know that," Davis said.

"It certainly wasn't a personal assault against me or the set-up."

When Woods resumes play today alongside England's Lee Westwood, also three over, and Ernie Els (plus two), he could well find he has a bigger deficit to make up as overnight co-leader Micheel continued his good form as the second round got under way.

A birdie at the par four 11th hole, his second of the day, gave the American the outright lead at three under with Englishman Casey, playing the two groups behind him, set to begin his round and Zimbabwean De Jonge in the next threesome after that off the 10th tee.

Woods started well, with a par at the par four 10th before he moved to two over par with a birdie at the 11th, only to give the shot back at the next hole with a bogey at the par three 12th.

The 14-time major winner's playing partner Els also birdied the 11th while world number three Westwood parred his first three holes.

World number nine Casey also got off to a steady start with consecutive pars at his first three holes to remain at two under while De Jonge, from Zimbabwe, joined Micheel, who had played four holes of his second round, at three under with a birdie at his third, the par three 12th.

Big-hitting American Dustin Johnson, who retained his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am title on the same course in February, had a birdie at the par four first to move to one under par for the week.

Germany's Martin Kaymer also carded an early birdie as he followed his opening 74 by moving to two over with a three at the par four 10th.

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