Many of golf’s largest names are stepping up at golf’s hardest event.
Collin Morikawa (-5), Rory McIlroy (-4) and Jon Rahm (-4) — with a mixed seven majors between them — prime the leaderboard on the U.S. Open, together with qualifier Joel Dahmen (-5), after two robust however not unattainable days at The Country Club in Brookline. The metropolis of Boston was nonetheless recovering from Thursday night time’s NBA Finals loss, however the course was welcoming, significantly within the afternoon. Most of the gamers on the prime of the leaderboard gained the favorable Thursday morning/Friday afternoon draw, with mild winds and heat temperatures conserving the course playable.
Morikawa posted the clubhouse lead at -5 after two days that noticed him incorporating a draw into his repertoire in addition to a reduce. The significance of sturdy play on the 36-hole mark for Morikawa is apparent: if he wins this week, he’ll be three-fourths of the way in which to a profession Grand Slam at age 25, missing solely the Masters for the quartet. McIlroy (Masters), Jordan Spieth (PGA Championship) and Phil Mickelson (U.S. Open) are the one energetic gamers with only one main remaining within the profession slam. Predictably, he did not need to get forward of himself and go there simply but.
“I can’t really talk about what it would be like to win this one,” he mentioned. “I’ve got to focus on [Saturday]. I’ve got to stick to my game plan. I’ve got to make sure I don’t run out of steam, which I kind of have been through that kind of little stretch after nine holes. I’ve just got to figure out a way to focus a little bit deeper and really get dialed in for the next 36.”
Also on the prime, as a result of golf loves an excellent storyline: Dahmen, who needed to qualify his approach into this 12 months’s Open. He’s solely performed in three U.S. Opens in all, and earlier than this week hadn’t made a reduce. A superb 60-foot birdie putt on the fifteenth gap gave Dahmen a share of the lead:
One stroke behind Morikawa and Dahmen stand Rahm, the defending champion, and McIlroy, looking for his first main in eight years. After some treacherous moments, Rahm steadied himself and closed with two birdies within the last 5 holes to roll into the weekend with momentum.
“We definitely got in the right side of the wave this time,” Rahm mentioned. “I don’t know how much the scoring difference is, but it went from looking really bad, maybe rain and thunder, and we didn’t know what was going to happen, and extremely windy, to … perfect sunshine and the wind almost started to die down a little bit. Especially the last few holes. It was kind of about as enjoyable as a U.S. Open walk can be, really.”
One participant who wasn’t having fun with The Country Club: McIlroy, who practically noticed his total event evaporate on one gap. He dropped his method on the par 4 third gap into the thick grass beside the inexperienced, then chunked two pictures earlier than getting out onto the inexperienced. He wanted to gap a 22-foot putt for double bogey, however that in all probability saved his event.
“You don’t want to try to be making 30-footers for 6s,” McIlroy mentioned, “but I got it in in the least amount of strokes possible on that hole after what happened.”
This 12 months’s reduce ended at +3, down from as excessive as +5. Four amateurs made the reduce; notable names that missed embody Shane Lowry, Tony Finau, Cam Smith, Viktor Hovland, and LIV Golf gamers Sergio Garcia, Louis Oosthuizen and Phil Mickelson.
Shot of the day: Cameron Young’s ace on the sixth, a pleasant restoration from a quadruple-bogey on the third. Whiff of the day: Young’s subsequent blown excessive 5 try:
The PGA Tour significantly ought to ship gamers and caddies to a particular college to show them the way to pull off the devilishly tough high-five.
Speaking of devilish: The Country Club is more likely to play harder over the weekend, significantly if winds decide up as anticipated. The tough might be longer, the greens might be quicker, and the pin areas might be extra treacherous. So far, the gamers have had the sting, however the course is more likely to strike again over the weekend. The massive names on the prime proper now won’t be there on Saturday night time, but when they’re as tightly bunched as they’re now, the stage might be set for one of many most interesting main Sundays in years.
“It’s fun for all of us because we all want to compete against the best and beat the best, and it’s obviously a lot more fun for watching people,” Rahm mentioned. “It’s great for the game of golf that the highest-ranked players and the best players are up there, especially in the tournament where truly the best player ends up winning.”
“I certainly don’t want it to be easy,” McIlroy mentioned. “I want guys to go out and shoot 65 so I have to go and shoot 64. That’s competition, and that’s at the heart of this game. I’m excited to be in that mix going into the weekend.”
Contact Jay Busbee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.