When Dustin Johnson completed his second round of the U.S. Open after teeing off early Friday morning, the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer held a four-stroke lead at Shinnecock Hills.
Then Ian Poulter made a late charge, getting to 3 under par heading to No. 8 during his round that began on the back nine.
But instead of finishing strong, the Englishman imploded at the penultimate hole, carding a triple-bogey 7 that dropped him to even par.
The damage didn’t end there for Poulter, who made bogey at his final hole to ruin a once-promising round and leave him in a crowded group at 1 over, a stroke in back of Americans Scott Piercy and Charley Hoffman for second place.
Johnson thus heads into the third round with a four-shot lead and as the only player below par thanks to a 3-under 67. He’s seeking his second U.S. Open title in three years and has been by far the steadiest player in the field through two days of the major championship often called the most demanding test in golf.
Lurking five shots back of the lead was, among others, reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose and 2016 British Open winner Henrik Stenson.
Many of the game’s most recognized names, however, failed to make the cut of 8 over, including world No. 4 Jordan Spieth, world No. 6 Rory McIlroy, world No. 8 Jason Day and 14-time major champion Tiger Woods.
Spieth made four straight birdies on the back nine to get to 8 over, but he bogeyed No. 17 and missed a six-footer to save par at the 18th that would have gotten him to the weekend.
McIlroy shot even par for the second round, but it wasn’t enough to offset an opening round of 10 over. Woods also was 10 over for the tournament while playing in the final year of a 10-year exemption at the U.S. Open.
Day finished 12 over following a second-round 73.
Other notables who failed to make the cut include two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson (12 over) and 2017 Masters winner Sergio Garcia (14 over).
BIG NAMES IN JEOPARDY OF MISSING CUT
While Dustin Johnson was comfortably in the clubhouse as the only player below par at the U.S. Open, a handful of the game’s other marquee names were in danger of missing the cut as they made the turn on Friday afternoon at Shinnecock Hills.
Johnson, ranked No. 1 in the world, fired a 3-under par 67 and sits atop the leaderboard at 4 under, four shots clear of his closest pursuers, including Englishmen Ian Poulter and Justin Rose, both at even par and playing their back nines.
Included in Johnson’s group in the morning were Justin Thomas, the world’s No. 2 player, and Tiger Woods. Thomas is 4 over for the tournament and Woods 10 over, two shots below the projected cut line.
Also in serious peril of missing the cut at the turn was world No. 6 Rory McIlroy, who had two bogeys and one double on his first nine for a 27-hole total of 14 over.
McIlroy was playing in the afternoon’s featured group with Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, who was 10 over after a double bogey at No. 10. Mickelson, meanwhile, made birdie at the 10th to get to 7 over.
There were a host of major champions below the projected cut line with the afternoon groups making the turn. Among those notables were two-time Masters winner Bubba Waston (12 over), world No. 8 Jason Day (13 over) and 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia (14 over).
DUSTIN JOHNSON LEADS IN ROUND 2
Dustin Johnson continued to play nearly flawless golf at the U.S. Open on Friday, carding four birdies for a second-round score of 3-under 67 at Shinnecock Hills. The world’s top-ranked player leads the season’s second major by three shots with a two-day total of 4 under.
Johnson, part of a group with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas, came within one stroke of matching the low round among those who teed off in the morning. That honor belonged to Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, whose 4-under 66 vaulted him to 1 over heading into the weekend.
The highlight of Johnson’s round came at the 184-yard par-3 seventh after his tee shot settled some 45 feet from the pin. His putt rolled with just the right pace toward the cup and completed a final revolution at the left edge before dropping and eliciting hearty applause from the gallery.
Johnson began his back nine by making a bogey 5 at No. 1 but countered that rare mistake with a birdie at the 476-yard par-4 fourth.
Blasting a drive down the left side of the fairway at No. 4, Johnson had 150 yards to the pin and placed his approach within 16 feet. He made the putt to move to 3 under for a two-shot lead over Scott Piercy and Ian Poulter, both of whom teed off in the afternoon.
While Johnson remained mostly steady throughout, Woods scrambled for birdies on his final two holes to shoot 72. Woods is 10 over for the tournament and remains in the mix to make the cut, depending on the scores in the afternoon groupings.
The first of those birdies came at the 448-yard par-4 eighth, when Woods landed his approach within 11 feet and sank the putt to get to move to 11 over. On the 482-yard par-4 ninth, Woods drove 324 yards with a 3-wood, stopped his approach within 18 feet and made the putt.
The flourish blunted a stretch in which Woods had been moving in the wrong direction on his second nine, beginning with a double-bogey 6 at No. 1. Woods had made triple bogey at the same hole in his opening round.
At 234-yard par-3 No. 2 on Friday, Woods missed a 15-footer to save par, falling to 11 over.
The 14-time major champion, playing in the final year of a 10-year U.S. Open exemption, lost another stroke at the 492-yard par-4 sixth when his 30-foot putt missed by several feet.
Thomas, the No. 2 ranked player in the world, shot even par in the second round and enters the weekend eight shots behind Johnson.
DUSTIN JOHNSON LEADS THROUGH 27 HOLES
Dustin Johnson continued to play steady golf Friday during the second round of the U.S. Open, taming typically unforgiving Shinnecock Hills over the front nine to make the turn at 3 under and alone in first place.
Starting his second round on the back side, the top-ranked player in the world carded a pair of birdies as part of the morning’s featured group with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas.
Johnson’s first birdie came after his tee shot to the 153-yard par-3 11th settled within nine feet. He got to 2 under on his round with an approach at the 610-yard par 5 16th that came to rest just outside of seven feet.
Also on the course in the morning was Russell Henley, among those in a four-way tie for first after the opening round. But the American quickly dropped back following a triple-bogey 7 at No. 3.
Woods made the turn at even when he sank a seven-footer for bogey at No. 18 to fall to 8 over, with the cut line, at least for the moment, projected at 6 over.
The 14-time major champion is playing in the final year of a 10-year exemption at the U.S. Open, which he last won at Torrey Pines in 2008 in an 18-hole playoff against Rocco Mediate. That memorable performance also yielded his last major championship, leaving Woods four short of matching Jack Nicklaus’s record of 18.
Thomas, meantime, birdied Nos. 13 and 17 to help offset a bogey 5 on his first hole of the day and made the turn at 3 over. The second-ranked player in the world is seeking his first U.S. Open title and second major championship.
DUSTIN JOHNSON LEADS AFTER ROUND 1
Dustin Johnson heads into Friday morning’s second round of the U.S. Open with a share of the lead following a brutal opening day at Shinnecock Hills for many of the game’s other highly accomplished players, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
Johnson, the world’s No. 1 player in the official World Golf Ranking, carded a 1-under 69 while playing in a group with Woods and Justin Thomas, who shot a 74. Woods had two double bogeys and one triple on the way to an 8-over 78.
That featured morning group tees off at 8:02 a.m. in conditions forecast to be less demanding than Thursday’s opening round, which had wind gusts reportedly reaching 25 mph.
Joining Johnson in first place heading into cut day are Americans Russell Henley and Scott Piercy along with Englishman Ian Poulter.
McIlroy, ranked sixth in the world, has plenty of work to do just to make the cut, which stood at even-par 140 the last time the tournament was played at rugged Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
The four-time major champion shot 10 over in the first round in pursuit of his second U.S. Open title. McIlroy claimed his first U.S. Open in 2011 at Congressional Country Club, where the Northern Irishman finished eight strokes ahead of runner-up Jason Day.
Spieth is a three-time major winner and the No. 4 player in the world but shot 8 over in the first round on Thursday while playing in the morning.
Spieth and McIlroy are part of Friday afternoon’s featured group that also includes Phil Mickelson, who has six runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open, most recently in 2013, in the only major to elude him. The trio tees off at 1:47 p.m.
DUSTIN JOHNSON IN FOUR-WAY TIE FOR FIRST
Shinnecock Hills humbled many of the world’s top golfers on the first day of the U.S. Open, but Dustin Johnson remained steady throughout the majority of his opening round to finish with a share of the lead.
The No. 1 player in the official World Golf Rankings had four birdies and saved par on the 491-yard par-4 18th to card a 1-under 69, landing him in a four-way tie for first. Also at 1 under were fellow Americans Scott Piercy and Russell Henley as well as Englishman Ian Poulter.
Jason Dufner was one stroke back as the only other player in the field of 156 who did not shoot above par. Included in a crowded group at 1 over were major champions Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
Johnson played in the featured afternoon threesome with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas, who ended within striking distance of the lead after shooting a 74 amid conditions more benign than the windy morning rounds.
Woods, meanwhile, carded a pair of double bogeys and one triple for an 8-over round of 78, which puts him in a tie for 101st place. Despite crisp ball-striking over a lengthy stretch, the 14-time major champion ran into trouble on the green at the par-4 13th, where he four-putted to drop to 6 over.
His first putt from 41 feet settled some six feet from the cup, and his next ran four feet past the hole. Woods missed the next putt for bogey, clutching his putter face immediately afterward while visibly agitated.
Circumstances worsened at next hole for the three-time U.S. Open champion playing in the final year of a 10-year exemption.
Woods drove into the second cut of rough on the right side of the fairway at the par-4 14th and sent his next shot into even thicker fescue, leaving him little choice but to punch out. His approach stopped within 12 feet, and Woods two-putted for a second consecutive double bogey.
At the par-4 12th hole, Thomas nearly holed out for eagle as his approach grazed the edge of the cup. A tap-in birdie left Thomas at 2 over, helping to salvage the early stages of his back nine after a double-bogey 6 at No. 10.
Johnson made bogey at No. 12 to relinquish the lead he had by himself for several holes, and Woods had a lengthy putt for birdie, but his ball bounced several times on the way to the hole and came to rest less than inch from the cup.
DUSTIN JOHNSON SHARES EARLY LEAD
While Shinnecock Hills humbled many of the top golfers in the world during the first round of the U.S. Open, Dustin Johnson played his first nine holes almost flawlessly on the way to 2 under par and a share of the lead among those still on the course.
The world’s No. 1 ranked player made three birdies on the front side, including two straight at Nos. 4 and 5, in his quest to win a second U.S. Open. Johnson also won the U.S. Open in 2016 at Oakmont.
American Russell Henley also stood 2 under through nine while Englishman Ian Poulter and American Scott Piercy were the leaders in the clubhouse at 1 under.
Johnson was part of Thursday afternoon’s most watched group, featuring Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas.
Woods made the turn at 3 over, settling down considerably following a triple-bogey 7 at No. 1. The 14-time major champion is playing in the final year of a 10-year exemption at the U.S. Open, last winning the tournament in 2008 at Torrey Pines by outdueling Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole playoff.
Thomas, ranked No. 2 in the world, was 1 over heading to the 10th hole in his pursuit of his first U.S. Open title.
Johnson encountered his only bit of trouble at the par-4 sixth when he drove into the rough along the left side of the fairway.
The ball bounced once and disappeared into the gnarly fescue. It took nearly all of the allotted five minutes before Fox analyst Rich Beem stepped on Johnson’s ball during a search comprising roughly two dozen people, including Woods and Thomas.
Johnson was allowed a drop, pitched out to the fairway and landed his third shot within 15 feet. His attempt at a par save wound up short of the cup.
Woods and Thomas, meanwhile, landed their approach shots within reasonable birdie distance. Both players missed their putts, however, and had to settle for par.
Two holes later, Johnson put his approach into the bunker protecting the front left of the green at the 439-yard par 4. Woods and Thomas landed their approaches on the green, but only Johnson emerged with a birdie after holing out from the sand.
POULTER, PIERCY LEAD EARLY
Englishman Ian Poulter stepped to the tee box at the 15th hole at Shinnecock Hills, drove his ball a bit wayward and exclaimed, “Where is that going?”
Which about encapsulated the frustration most players, including a handful ranked among the top 10 in the world, had endured after the morning groups were winding down their first rounds at the U.S. Open Thursday afternoon.
Poulter and American Scott Piercy were the only players among those teeing off early to finish below par, sharing the lead in the clubhouse at 1-under 69.
Both players handled windy conditions, treacherous greens and uninviting pin placements with far more dexterity than some of the favorites at the 118th installment of the tournament often called the most difficult test of golf.
World No. 6 Rory McIlroy, for instance, finished 10 over, carding consecutive double-bogeys at the par-4 13th and 14th holes while opening his round on the back nine. The 2011 U.S. Open champion at Congressional Country Club made back-to-back birdies at Nos. 5 and 6 to offset another double-bogey 6 at No. 1.
Jason Day, ranked eighth in the world, ended one stroke in front of McIlroy after closing his round with bogeys at Nos. 8 and 9. The 2015 PGA Championship winner began on the back nine and made bogey or worse on four of his first six holes.
World No. 4 Jordan Spieth shot 8 over in a round that included a double bogey on the 184-yard par-3 seventh. That miscue was part of a run of four bogeys or worse over seven holes on the second nine for Spieth, a three-time major champion who won the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson both carded 77s, and reigning U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka shot 5 over.
Lurking two shots back of the lead was a group that included Justin Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion at Merion.
Sitting four shots back was, among others, reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed. The fiery American carded three birdies, including two in a row to open his back nine.
Also at 3 over were Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar. The Americans are regarded as two of the best players in the world without a major championship.
Top players struggling
With Shinnecock Hills living up to its diabolical reputation amid windy conditions, the top of the leader board at the U.S. Open was notable as much for who wasn’t there as who managed to survive as the early pairings began to make the turn on Thursday morning.
Ian Poulter stood in a two-way tie for first at 2 under when he stepped to the No. 10 tee after making birdies at Nos. 3 and 7 on the front side. American Matt Kuchar, also seeking his first major championship, was at 2 under as well at the start of his back nine.
Some of the game’s most accomplished players, however, were nowhere near contention.
Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, for instance, entered as two of the favorites to win the season’s second major but were a combined 15 over the first few holes on their second nines.
Day, ranked No. 8 in the world, was at 6 over after five bogeys on the front side and another at No. 11.
World No. 6 McIlroy, meantime, stood at 9 over following a double-bogey at the 399-yard par-4 No. 1. The 2011 U.S. Open champion at Congressional Country Club began his round on the back side, where he carded consecutive double-bogeys at Nos. 13 and 14.
Three-time major champion Jordan Spieth, ranked No. 4, was at 5 over after 10 holes. Beginning his round at No. 10, Spieth had three bogeys and a birdie on the back side and a bogey on No. 1.
Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson joined Spieth at 5 over through 12 holes, one stoke behind Phil Mickelson. The five-time major winner with six second-place finishes at the U.S. Open made three bogeys over his first four holes while starting his round on the back side.
No player heads into the U.S. Open with more momentum than Dustin Johnson. The top-ranked golfer in the world not only won last week’s St. Jude Classic by four shots over a field filled with major champions but did so by carding an eagle from some 170 yards on the 72nd and final hole.
Johnson regained the No. 1 ranking with that victory, his second this season, overtaking world No. 2 Justin Thomas, and he is seeking his second major championship. Johnson won the 2016 U.S. Open at storied Oakmont Country Club but failed to make the cut last year.
Thomas also is chasing a second major title after winning the PGA Championship last year at Quail Hollow. The current money leader on the PGA Tour claimed his best finish in a U.S. Open last year when he ended in a tie for ninth.
Other Americans squarely in the mix to contend include Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka, the reigning U.S. Open champion with a four-stroke victory and record-tying 16 under overall at Erin Hills, a first-time host, in Wisconsin.
Since that triumph, Koepka had been working his way back to full health following a partially torn left patella tendon that forced him to miss four months, including this year’s Masters, to start the season. He also had a streak of eight consecutive top 20 finishes come to an end.
“You go from playing some of the best golf I’ve ever played to probably being at the lowest point professionally that I’ve been,” Koepka said during his Tuesday news conference at Shinnecock Hills. “The lowest point was the fact I gained about 15 pounds. Looking in the mirror wasn’t quite fun.”
Koepka is rounding back into form, however, with a tie for 11th place at the Players Championship and solo second place at the Fort Worth Invitational. He’s ranked No. 9 in the world, two spots behind Fowler, who is widely regarded as the best player without a major championship.
World No. 4 Spieth, meanwhile, won the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, beating Johnson and Louis Oosthuizen by one stroke.
Then there’s Tiger Woods, whose tee-to-green game has been on the upswing as the 14-time major winner begins pursuit of his fourth U.S. Open title. The last of his major championships came at the U.S. Open ten years ago, when, playing on a bum leg, Woods outlasted Rocco Mediate in an 18-hole Monday playoff at Torrey Pines.
This is the final year of Woods’s 10-year U.S. Open exemption. He missed the cut at his last U.S. Open in 2015 and finished tied for 17th when the event last was held at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.
Woods, 42, tied for 23rd at the Memorial this season, but putting has been an issue. He’s tied for 89th in strokes gained putting, and Shinnecock is infamous for its unforgiving greens.
“It feels good to be here,” Woods, ranked No. 80 in the world, said during a news conference earlier this week from Southampton, N.Y. “I’ve missed playing the U.S. Open.”
Fox will have live TV coverage Saturday, beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday’s coverage will start at 10 a.m.
The Golf Channel has “Morning Drive” live, on TV and online, Saturday and Sunday, from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. “Live from the U.S. Open” will air on TV and online Saturday from 8 to 11 a.m., and Sunday, 8 to 10 a.m.
USOpen.com will live-stream each round, beginning Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m.
The forecast for both Saturday and Sunday calls for mostly sunny skies and highs in the mid- to upper 70s.
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