ERIN, Wis. — By midafternoon Saturday, Erin Hills cowered under siege. The players who had stayed for the weekend were mauling it and reinforcing the image of the first-time U.S. Open course lacking the requisite U.S. Open suffering. Red bled all over the leader board. At one point, six players shared the lead at 8 under par, and 18 players thrived between 8 under and 5 under on a day after a nighttime rain lent more softening.
None of those 18 players has won a major tournament to date.
Some have figured to do so at some point, and those include Patrick Reed, the player who made the biggest Saturday surge so far. Positioned at 1 under when the day began, six shots off the lead and in a tie for 33rd place, Reed rose all the way through the masses to No. 1 for a while, playing the first 17 holes in 7 under to reach 8 under. As the world’s 19th-ranked player and a Ryder Cup fixture the last two terms, Reed birdied four out of five holes through the middle of the back nine and began to stir thoughts of the U.S. Open (and major) record of 63 before registering a 65.
Charley Hoffman, who led the 2017 Masters after the first round, ran to the top of the leader board at 9 under after five birdies in his first eight holes. Justin Thomas, the 24-year-old ranked No. 13 in the world, went out in 31 to zoom from 2 under to 7 under. The amateur Scottie Scheffler, a University of Texas player, bolted from 1 under to 5 under, the same place another amateur, Texas A&M’s Cameron Champ, began the day before cooling off.
The leader board even reserved the right to produce names only lightly discussed through the week, such as 2010 British Open champion and 2012 Masters playoff participant Louis Oosthuizen, who snared a 4-under 68 despite a double bogey on No. 17. He stands 4 under for the tournament.
As of 3 p.m. here, the free-for-all had Hoffman in the lead at 9 under, followed by a four-way jam at 8 under between Reed, the first-time major cut-maker Tommy Fleetwood, the recent Wells Fargo winner Brian Harman and the veteran Englishman Paul Casey. Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka lurked at 7 under.