Patrick Reed (Pic: Darren Caroll-USGA), Justin Thomas (Simon Bruty-USGA) and Tiger Woods (Robert Beck – USGA)
Sep 19: Justin Thomas holed two birdies in his second nine to stay in touch while Patrick Reed never allowed things to get too far away and made five birdies to make up for his five bogeys and had saved a lot of pars to get into sole lead at the halfway mark in the 120th US Open.
As the Winged Foot course showed its heels to everyone, a lot of big names tumbled out at halfway stage, while some others fought and stayed on.
While the 60 players who made the cut will get two more shots in the third and final round at Winged Foot, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will head home.
Woods said, “It feels like the way the golf course is changing, is turning, that anybody who makes the cut has the opportunity to win this championship.” He added, “I didn’t get myself that opportunity.”
The greens are only going to get firmer, the roughs are going to stay and the scores will get hit further.
But Rory McIlroy (67-76) is still around and so is Dustin Johnson (73-70). Johnson was bogey-free through 16 holes until a pair of bad tee shots led to bogey. Both were T-22 at 3-over 143.
If it was Reed’s hole-in-one that helped him in the first round, the second round saw Bryson DeChambeau muscle his way to a closing eagle to shoot 2-under 68 and was second, one shot behind the leader.
On a day when only three players broke par and nine shot par, few were as gritty as Reed. It was his pars and saves from thick grass, where even locating a ball is tough, and the bunkers that set him aside. “I love when it’s hard, when you have to be creative on all different golf shots,” he said.
DeChambeau alternated between bogeys and birdies for most of his round – he had five of both. Then he finished as only he could – following up a monster drive with a pitching wedge to six feet with the downwind on the 557-yard, par-5 ninth. He holed it for the best round of the day.
Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello (68-70) and Harris English (68-70) were at 2-under 138 alongside Justin Thomas (65-73).
Thomas, who opened with a 65, lost all those shots to par after 10 holes. Thomas then delivered a 5-wood from 228 yards into the wind on the par-3 third hole and made a slick, 15-foot, double-breaking birdie putt to steady himself. He salvaged a 73 and is right in it.
Jason Kokrak (71) was the only other player under par at 1-under 139.
Thomas found just three fairways in the second round and with his putts not dropping he was 5-over for his first 10 holes. But encouraged by his caddie, Thomas did not allow it to slip away totally. He bounced back with a super quick double breaking putt for a birdie on the long Par-3 third, his 12th hole, with a 15-foot birdie. That birdie may have been a turning point in the round. He added one more on seventh, his 17th hole for a 3-over 73 and a total of 2-under 138 and is now Tied-third and two behind leader Reed.
“This isn’t exactly a place where you go out and try to shoot 6 or 7 under to catch up,” Thomas said. “I’m not going to worry about what everyone else is doing because you could shoot 80 just as easily as you could shoot 68.”
Woods had missed the cut Winged Foot in 2006 and Mickelson wanted to make up for the double he had on 72nd in 2006 which prevented him from winning the only Major he has not.
As the second round brought significantly more wind, which made the course faster Woods, one of Thomas’ playing partners, struggled to a 77.
Woods, 44, was hit by two doubles early on and never recovered. He started on the 10th hoping to catch up after his first round 73, but he doubled the 16th after making a bogey on the 14th. Then on the 18th green he again came up short and like the first round he messed up his chip and ended with a double bogey again.
On the front side Woods added four more bogeys before finding two consolation birdies on seventh and ninth for 7-over 77 and finished the championship 10 over, four below the cut line. His next starts look like the Zozo, Masters and Hero World Challenge and maybe one more.
Mickelson was better than his first round 79, but the 4-over 74 did not allow him to stay as he was 13-over for 36 holes during which he hit only six fairways.
Also going out were the defending champion Gary Woodland (+8) who then revealed he had a hip injury. Other stars missing the weekend include the recent PGA Champion Collin Morikawa (+7), and former FedExCup and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (+10). Jordan Spieth continued with his struggles, shooting a second round 81 to finish at 14 over. Then there were Martin Kaymer (+7), Keegan Bradley (+8), Si Woo Kim (+9), Matt Kuchar (+9), Jimmy Walker (+10), Danny Willett (+10), Henrik Stenson (+11), Sergio Garcia (+15) and Graeme McDowell (+16).