Saturday, 24 June, 2017

The wrong kind of US Open history: Top 3 all miss cut

Paul Casey of England reacts after his birdie on the 11th hole during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Friday McIlroy, Day try to make up ground, make cut at US Open
Vera Richards | 20 June, 2017, 00:14

On Friday, with Erin Hills beginning to firm up following early week rainstorms, the USGA chose to tuck some of the pins into tight spots after a fairly uncharacteristic U.S. Open opening round.

Paul Casey rode a rollercoaster to a four-way share of second-round lead at the U.S. Open on Friday but it was the end of the line for the world's three top-ranked players.

It was the first time since the world ranking began in 1986 that the top three players missed the cut in any major.

Jamie Lovemark, Rickie Fowler and J.B. Holmes featured in a three-way tie at six under.

The quartet are seven under at Erin Hills after a Friday that saw Japan's Hideki Matsuyama surge up a congested leaderboard with a stunning seven-under 65, while the world's top-ranked players were unable to stage recoveries.

The final pairing of Casey and Harman are scheduled to tee off at 2:29 p.m. (1925 GMT), but a forecast calling for the possibility of thunderstorms could disrupt third-round action.

"Obviously, I'm not here on the weekend, so it's unfortunate", Day said. He missed almost two months at the start of the year when he was diagnosed with a slight rib fracture, and then the latest break after The Players Championship.

"You don't get many rounds at the U.S. Open that are stress-free", Fowler said.

"It would be nice to see the course dry out a little bit and just make it to where it's going to take a quality round of golf", he said.

"I started to let it go a little bit on the back nine today", he said.

No matter. He shot 38 on his first nine but rallied for 33 on his second nine.

The cut was at one-over par after Friday's round, allowing 68 golfers to make it to the weekend.

"It was a good display, all my own fault, but a good display of what can happen if you get out of position on this golf course, which is what I did on 14".

None of the leading 16 players have won a major before, making it likely that a run of six consecutive victories by first-timers will extend to seven this weekend.

McIlroy, as well as Day, will play the Travelers Championship near Hartford, Conn., next week as he gears up for the British Open.

"I think that can't be underestimated", said Fleetwood, "having your friend with you". Thomas capped off his record day on the 667-yard 18th hole at Erin Hills with the prettiest 3-wood he ever hit, stopping 8 feet away on a green where some players struggled to land a wedge. It's there that the mistake was made: Hadwin tried to play too ideal of a third shot up toward the raised putting surface.

He had a chat with swing coach Michael Bannon on Thursday night, and Bannon had observed that McIlroy's transition down from the top was simply too quick.

American favourite Johnson crashed out after he could only card a one-over-par 73, which left him four over for the tournament at the sprawling Erin Hills course in rural Wisconsin. I'm definitely disappointed I'm not playing the weekend, but there is a lot I can take out of it.

"I hit the ball better than I did yesterday, I drove it very well and hit a lot of good iron shots, I just didn't make any putts", Johnson said. Fowler's streak ended at 28 holes, however, when he went just long on the 11th hole and had to chip sideways to have any chance of a reasonable par putt.

"Not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an eight on the card, but I m a pretty happy man", Casey said.

In all, eight of the top 12 players in the world missed the cut, including Henrik Stenson, Alex Noren, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. "I guess it's rare you get through a U.S. Open or any major without some kind of a hiccup".

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