US Open Day 2 Recap
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
IT IS a case of deja vu at the US Open, with Dustin Johnson, the man who three-putted the 72nd green from nowhere last year to hand the title to Jordan Spieth, sharing the lead again after 36 holes.
Johnson routinely finds himself there or thereabouts in majors these days, but has thus far always found a way of crashing down the leaderboard. This time at Oakmont just might be different. In a weather-delayed tournament, the big-hitting American followed his opening 67 with a fine 69 to stand on four under par, level with unheralded American Andrew Landry, who has yet to start his second round.
Landry was facing a birdie putt on the ninth, his final hole, when play was abandoned for the day on Thursday. And he returned on Friday morning to hole the putt for a round of 66. The previous best opening score at Oakmont of 67 was set by Ben Hogan in 1953 and matched by Gary Player in 1973.
England's Lee Westwood had four holes to play on Friday and completed them in two under par thanks to birdies on the eighth and ninth, the 43-year-old signing for a three-under-par 67, his lowest opening round in 17 US Open appearances. He was then told he wouldn't be required until Saturday.
“I’ve been playing well and was really looking forward to coming back to Oakmont,” said Westwood, whose tie for second with Jordan Spieth in The Masters extended his unwanted record of most top-three finishes in major championships without a victory to nine. “I had a good experience here last time and I like a challenge. I picked up where I left off at the Masters and the last three events [which produced three top-15 finishes] and I’m very pleased to make a good start. You don’t want to shoot a lot over par and have to chase.
“The Masters gave me a big boost. I had not contended in a big tournament for a while so it was nice to give myself a chance and feel those emotions again. I’ve had more chances [to win a major] at The Masters and The Open, but if look at my game, the US Open should suit me more than the others.”
Ireland’s Shane Lowry was a shot behind Westwood after completing a 68 with birdies on the 14th and 17th. Scotland’s Russell Knox carded two bogeys and two birdies in an opening 70, but Masters champion Danny Willett struggled to a 75 and Rory McIlroy bogeyed his last three holes for a 77. Both men will need to break par today if they are to make the cut.
Westwood was not the only Englishman in contention as Andy Sullivan and Lee Slattery survived a 36-hole marathon in the US Open at Oakmont. Sullivan and Slattery were on the other side of the draw from Westwood and after shooting 71 and 72 respectively in the first round, had just an hour’s break before being sent out to play round two.Both men negotiated Oakmont in 68, leaving Sullivan three behind the leaders, with Slattery a shot further back.
“I feel like I’m at a time in my life where I’ve been on tour for a long time and I’ve got to try to elevate myself up to another level, whether it’s this week, next week, whenever it is,” said 37-year-old Slattery, who came through the 36-hole qualifier at Walton Heath last month. “I feel I’ve got to win something a little bit bigger to keep on achieving my goals in life.
“Obviously I want to play a Ryder Cup and also just contend in bigger events and one day you never know. Like Ben Curtis did when he came over and played the British Open, you might just knock one of them off and it’s a life-changer. But you’ll never do it unless you’re in contention. So you’ve got to get yourself into contention and see how you do under the pressure.”
There was some extraordinary scoring on Friday. Sergio Garcia, completing his second round in near darkness, holed a huge putt on the final green for a round of 70 and a 36-hole total of 138, two under par. He was tied with Scott Piercey, of the United States, who also opened with a 68 and a 70.
And late in the day, Daniel Summerhays produced a scarcely credible round of 65 to join Sullivan on one under.
Jason Day opened with a 76. He returned to the golf course and played quite beautifully but he couldn't buy a putt. When he was forced to call it a day after 15 holes of his second round he had picked up one stroke but, on five over, is nine adrift of Johnson.
As for Johnson, he hit lots of greens in regulation, dropped one shot in his second round and collected two birdies - had he putted well, this tournament might already be over. But he just couldn't get the putts to drop and you can't help but feel that disaster lies just around the corner.
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