About a million stories have been written about Tiger Woods&apos recent knee surgery, but less well known is that Stuart Appleby had a similar operation at almost the same time. Just a few days after finishing tied for 14th at the Masters Appleby had a procedure to fix damaged meniscus in his right knee. “I busted it a couple of weeks before the Masters. I got off the floor and it didn&apost make a good sound,” said the Australian, who took the halfway lead in dramatic style at the US Open on Friday, thanks to a 45-foot birdie bomb at the final hole at Torrey Pines. “I was in pain for the first few days and then it got somewhat better. I got through the Houston Open and Masters, no problem, but I knew it wasn&apost going to get better.” “I could hit golf balls but there were a lot of things I couldn&apost do, such as bending and squatting. I knew it wouldn&apost get better long term.” Appleby said his knee was now 100 percent recovered, and it certainly looked like it as he pulled ahead of the world&aposs greatest players. But world number 31 Appleby looked like being in a four-way tie for the lead until he sank his monster putt at the par-five 18th, after his third shot from a divot came up short. “I just thought &aposit&aposs late in the day, these putts are getting a bit slower, just release it&apos,” said Appleby, who read more than three feet of break. “I hit it and thought it doesn&apost look good, because it doesn&apost have that feeling off the putter and then a couple of second out, I thought &aposthis could go in&apos.” Appleby, who led into the final round of last year&aposs Masters before fading to finish equal seventh, was not about to get too excited about his lead. “Everything feels good,” he said. “I&aposd like to keep playing like this. The question is, can I keep playing like that?” Appleby, with eight PGA Tour victories, has won on tour more often than any other current active player without a major. It&aposs a dubious honour he would like to relinquish.