Peterson surprises at 1-over through 36
"Our plan today was to go out and try to make pars," said Peterson, who had two birdies and two bogeys in his 70 on Friday. "On Thursday we had five birdies, but we had a double and four bogeys.
"You can make pars out here. You get in trouble when you try to go after flags."
The Fort Worth, Tex. native has played five times on the PGA Tour in 2012. His best finish was a tie for 55th at Mayakoba.
Peterson, who turned pro late last year after being overlooked for a spot on the Walker Cup team, is playing in his first U.S. Open and first major after birdieing his last two holes to get one of the two spots at the Springfield, Ohio sectional.
As an amateur, Peterson tied for second at the Nationwide Tour's Children's Hospital Invitational. Now, he's in contention at a major after not earning his PGA Tour card last fall.
Peterson said he spent the whole month of December deer hunting around his adopted hometown of Baton Rouge. Since then he's played an event each in South Africa and Europe. But mostly he's been trying to Monday qualify into PGA Tour events.
"It's been tough getting my foot into the door," he said. "Once I get my card I think I'll be OK."
Early Friday afternoon, Peterson was on the range trying to bring some crispness to his iron play and looking ahead to a late afternoon Saturday tee time.
"I'm really excited about the weekend," he said. "I proved to myself these last two days that I can play this golf course."
Farrell Evans covers golf for ESPN and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.