Thursday, 20 July, 2017

Four Sit Atop a Crowded Leaderboard at US Open

Koepka and Fowler pull clear at Erin Hills Four Sit Atop a Crowded Leaderboard at US Open
Connie Andrews | 23 June, 2017, 01:56

It's not the kind of leaderboard that makes someone want to cancel their weekend plans to stay home and watch the last two rounds of the U.S. Open.

"I wish I was about 5 shots better", Stricker said Friday at Erin Hills Golf Club. His second shot drifted off the fairway, and his third was over the green in the fescue. You can still make birdies out there. The cut was at 1-over 145, tying a U.S. Open record set in 1990 at Medinah. This week, so far, you've had to make birdies your friends, even if the course is playing 7,800-plus yards.

The last six majors have been taken by first-time winners.

England's Paul Casey and compatriot Tommy Fleetwood were bunched on seven under alongside Americans Brooks Koepka and Brian Harman at the top.

Casey made a snowman - a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 14th - and still broke par with a 71.

It marked the first time since the world rankings were created in 1986 that the top three ranked players in the world missed the cut at a US Open.

His early exit was particularly perplexing because, Day said, "It's been the best preparation I've had going into a major in my career". "It was a bit of a roller coaster".

Koepka does have a good history in the U.S. Open, too, with three finishes in the top 20 in three appearances as a professional, including a tie for fourth at Pinehurst in 2014.

South Korea's Kim Si-Woo and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama were among five players on five under, which also included amateur Cameron Champ. And I can hit those shots.

Everyone has to start somewhere, and that's been the case for the last six majors, all won by players who had never won a Grand Slam event before.

Behind the leading quartet, a logjam grouped eight players within two shots of the lead.

Sixty-eight players made the cut, with former champion Webb Simpson, former Masters and British Open victor Zach Johnson and former PGA champion Keegan Bradley all making it on the number.

The cut came at 1 over, which tied the record for lowest cut in tournament history, in relation to par, also established in 1990.

For the second straight year, world number two Rory McIlroy is packing his bags early, as is defending champion and world number one Dustin Johnson and world number three Jason Day. Johnson is said to have texted a message of congratulations to Harman, who in turn thanked Johnson and wrote back, "I wanted no part of you in a playoff".

"I got a massive break", he said.

"It's just golf and it's frustrating, but I don't let it bother me".

"I made two bad swings on the front nine", Koepka said.

There's plenty of golf left to be played and Mother Nature will dictate what the course will tee up. The forecast calls for rain and stiffening winds over the weekend. A couple greens that are more exposed were faster, so it was hard to get a feel for the correct speed. "I've never played a U.S. Open, so tomorrow will be a very cool experience". "I got off to a good start, but it sort of caught up with me as the round went on". But if it gets soft, they'll get wide again and guys will be throwing darts out there.

On that occasion, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Hale Irwin and Ray Floyd shared the halfway lead, with Irwin going on to win the "Massacre at Winged Foot" on seven over par.

What would winning the U.S. Open do for him?

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