In other news ... you half expected Arnold Palmer to burst out of the bushes at No. 9 to tell the encroaching threesome of hackers: "While we're young?"

The United States Golf Assn. has been running commercials all week using Palmer as an advocate for increasing pace of play in the snail-crawling world of golf.

USGA President Glen Nager said at a slow-play news conference earlier this week, "It's now become one of the most significant threats to the health of the game."

Here, here.

The USGA could have used Palmer on Friday after the grouping of Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Nicholas Colsaerts were put on the clock for slow play as they butchered some of Merion's most precious real estate.

Watson, Johnson and Colsaerts took so long at the par-three ninth hole they could have almost been considered homesteaders.

All three hit into the hazard and Johnson and Watson both shot double-bogey fives on the hole, while Colsaerts made a bogey. Watson followed with another double at the par-four 10th.

Not bad for a kid: Gavin Hall, the youngest player in the field at 18, is 11-over 151 through 36 holes and probably won't make the cut. He followed a first-round four-over 74 with a 77 in the second round.

Hall started his college career at UCLA but has enrolled at Texas for the fall.

His highlight was a first-round eagle at the par-four No. 8 hole.

Hall said he wasn't that nervous for his first U.S. Open: "The only different part is there's a lot of spectators," he said.

Phil Mickelson opens round talking to his golf ball | 3:10 p.m.

Ever talk to your golf ball?

"Oh, come on, baby!" is what Phil Mickelson said as his second shot on No. 8 left his club from the fairway.

For good reason.

Mickelson knew his shot was a beauty and watched his ball spin backward on the green and come within a inch of rolling in for an eagle 2.

Then, however, Mickelson blew the four-footer for birdie and walked away with a disappointing par to stay at two under.

Mickelson seems determined to keep this anyone's tournament to win.

The number of golfers who might win can be narrowed to, oh, about the top 60 and ties. Wait, isn't that the cut line?

Yes and yes.