Morikawa and Dahmen. Pics: USGA
Brookline, MA, June 18: Collin Morikawa, who has been searching for his top game, seems to have found it in good measure as he had a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the US Open at Brookline. He matched the low score of the championship with a 4-under 66 and at 5-under for 36 holes he shared the lead with Joel Dahmen (67-68). If Morikawa wins, it will a third straight year winning a major. Morikawa had 1-under 69 on first day.
Defending champion Jon Rahm played with Morikawa. Rahm attempted to stay with him with an eagle and some big par putts as he shot 67. Rahm was one shot behind in a group that included Rory McIlroy, who is coming of a win at the Canadian Open.
Also in the picture is the Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who chipped in from thick rough short of the par-5 14th green for an eagle that brought the Texan back into the mix with a 67. At 3-under, he was two shots behind.
Morikawa, Rahm and Scheffler have combined to win four of the last nine majors. And then there’s McIlroy, who has four majors by himself, but none since 2014.
Dahmen, the cancer survivor, and thought about withdrawing from the 36-hole qualifier twice last week, before it started and after the first round. But he stuck it out, and with a 68 on Friday, plays in the final group of a major for the first time. He joined Morikawa at 5-under 135.
Hayden Buckley, who actually studied while at Missouri because he never thought playing golf for a living was going to work out. He wasn’t in the U.S. Open until making a 20-foot birdie putt in a playoff for the last spot in his qualifier 11 days ago. Now with 68-68 he T-3 with McIlroy, Rahm, Aaron Wise and Beau Hossler.
Wise’s best at a Major is T-17 and Hossler, who featured on the weekend at Olympic Club as a teenage amateur in 2012, has not played a Major since.
McIlroy never panicked even after his double bogey. He took his birdie chances on the drivable par-4 fifth and the short par-5 eighth. And he finished strong to get right in the mix.
“You want to go up against the best to try to bring the best out of yourself,” McIlroy said. “And to see Collin and Jon and Scottie and Sam (Burns) up there and whoever else, that’s what major championship golf is all about. That’s what competition is all about. And that’s at the heart of this game. I’m excited to be in that mix going into the weekend.”
Should Morikawa win, the five-time PGA Tour winner would become the quickest player in history to attain three major titles. This is only Morikawa’s 11th major-championship start since he turned professional after graduating from the University of California-Berkeley in 2019. Peter Thomson notched his third major title, the 1956 British Open, in start No. 12, while Lee Trevino (1971 British Open) and Ralph Guldahl (1939 Masters) needed 15 starts.
McIlroy is trying to become the first player in the post-World War II era to claim the U.S. Open a week after winning a PGA Tour event (RBC Canadian Open), rebounded from a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 third hole to get back into contention at 4 under.
The cut (low 60 and ties) came at 3-over 143 with 60 professionals and four amateurs playing the weekend.
Missing the cut were Phil Mickelson, a six-time U.S. Open runner-up, the 2021 U.S. Senior Open champion Jim Furyk, 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, 2021 U.S. Amateur champion James Piot, past Masters winner Sergio Garcia, Viktor Hovland, and world No. 1 amateur Keita Nakajima.
Of the 64 players who made the cut, 23 were qualifiers.