Weird, wild and perfectly typical day at the US Open

BROOKLINE, Massachusetts. – MJ Daffue of South Africa, ranked 296th in the world, was not invited to the guest tent near par-5 hole 14 during the second round of the US Open on Friday. But when his tee came to rest on the carpeted tent balcony next to a tree trunk, fence railings, and overhanging leaf-strewn branches, Duffy was welcomed to the party.

Avoiding a safe freefall on nearby grass, Duffue, who was leading the US Open at the time, decided to use 4-wood to hit the ball against the tree trunk, over the railing, and under the branches onto the 14th green. 278 meters.

NBC analyst Nick Faldo squealed, “What’s he thinking?”

As the fans kept iced drinks nearby, Duffue implausibly deflected his shot from all danger and watched as his golf ball landed a few feet off the 14th course to create a chance for the eagle, which increased his incredible lead.

“Unfortunately, he made a scarecrow instead,” said Duffue, who never took a second-round lead again. “It was kind of a crazy day.”

Duffy could speak for the whole field. While first round The 122nd US Open on Thursday was the theater of the first-ever showdown between PGA Tour supporters and rebellious golfers who defected to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Invitational Serieson Friday, that drama receded at a country club outside of Boston.

It was replaced by something more typical of the US Open: a day upside down in nasty conditions on the golf course, with a cavalcade of famous and anonymous players jumping up and down the leaderboard.

An hour before sunset, Joel Dahmen, who has missed four of the nine majors he has competed in and is ranked 130th, shares the lead midway with Collin Morikawa, 25, who is in the forefront. youth movement ahead of professional golf.

On Friday, Morikawa threw in a four-under 66 to move into the five-under tournament. Damen, a popular and outgoing tour member known for his bucket hat that rarely falls off his head on the golf course, equaled Morikawa with 68 points after 67th in the first round. The 34-year-old Damen has never finished higher than 10th in a major championship and has never led a 36-hole PGA Tour. He did not qualify for the tournament until June 6 and narrowly missed it to focus on the rest of the PGA Tour season.

Late Friday night, Damen was still unimpressed with his position after two rounds.

“It’s really cool, but it’s really all for nothing if you’re going to lay eggs on the weekend,” he said. “It’s fun, but it would be a lot of fun if I did it again on Saturday and Sunday.”

The eclectic five of golfers were one stroke behind the co-leaders: John Ram, who is ranked second in the world; Rory McIlroy, who survived a panic on the third hole when it took him three strokes to get the ball out of thick fescue on greenside but still hit a 69; Hayden Buckley, PGA Tour Rookie; Bo Hossler, 27, who played his first US Open as a teenager; and Aaron Wise, who has one career PGA Tour win to his credit.

Morikawa noted that there were more than 20 players within five strokes of the lead.

“No one escaped with him,” he said. “But I think that’s to be expected on a challenging golf course at the US Open. But right now my game seems really good and the last few days have given me a lot of confidence before the weekend. I hope we can get along somehow.”

The unpredictability of the day was typified by 26-year-old Buckley, who didn’t compete in golf until he was a junior in high school and switched to the golf team when he enrolled at the University of Missouri.

“It all happened pretty quickly to be sure,” said Buckley, who took a minor-league victory on the Korn Ferry Tour before earning his PGA Tour card late last year. “But today I felt pretty relaxed and confident.”

Buckley faltered in the middle of his second round when he had three ghosts at five holes. But Buckley rallied and hit four short on his last seven holes.

There was something normal in the second round. Scotty Scheffler, number one in the men’s world rankings, hit a three-under par 67 to enter the fray. Scheffler, who won this year’s Masters Tournament and three other 2022 PGA Tour events, started his round by betting on an eagle on the 14th hole. He didn’t do it from the balcony of the hotel tent where Duffue found his golf ball, but his tee shot hit 40 yards to the right of the hole.

Then, in a scene that suited the unusual nature of the day, Scheffler had to wait nearly a minute while the turkey strolled leisurely across 14th Lawn. Smiling, Scheffler, who even hit par 70 on Thursday, refocused and put the ball into the hole. With a birdie on the 16th hole and two final pairs, Scheffler finished the tournament three under par.

Collin Morikawa, the seventh player in the world, started his round one under par, but quickly broke into the leaderboard with birdies on the 12th, 14th and 17th holes. (He started his round on the 10th hole.) Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship winner, first took the lead in the second round with a fourth birdie on the first hole, then registered his first ghost on the fourth hole. But he closed with a bang, a par-5 birdie on the eighth hole, to finish with four under par 66s.

Morikawa has placed in the top 10 four times this year, including fifth at the Masters.

John Rahm, the reigning US Open champion, started his round one under par, as did Morikawa, and started play on the 10th hole. He took 14th on a short par-5 and struck deftly as the sun came out on Friday afternoon and slightly dried out the fast, undulating greens. Ram had three birds and two ghosts.

Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, who won the 2013 U.S. Amateur Country Club Championship when he was 18, was among the first-round leaders when he scored 68 goals on Thursday. He continued his consistent measured play from 70 on Friday.

Two familiar names also climbed to the front page of the Friday leaderboard: 25-year-old Sam Burns, who has won twice since March and was runner-up in another tournament with 67 points to advance to the championship two under, and Brooks Koepka, the latest man to win consecutive US Open, shot 67 after an erratic 73 in the first round. Kopka had recently married, and he admitted that the wedding limited the amount of time he could play golf. But he said he regained his confidence by working beyond the competition.

Phil Mickelson improved on his erratic 78 in the first round on Thursday to hit a three-over-par 73 in the second round, but his putting continued to be the worst part of his game and he failed to qualify.

Mickelson, usually chatty, did not speak after Thursday’s round and was brief on Friday. Of his return after five months away from competition, Mickelson said, “I missed competing, but I also enjoyed some time away from competition.”

Other notable players who didn’t make the list included Kevin Nah and Louis Ostwizen, who joined Mickelson on LIV Golf Tourand Billy Horschel, who won the Memorial Tournament earlier this month. Also excluded from the final rounds of the weekend are Victor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood.

Duffue, who finished one under par in the tournament, was more than pleased to have more opportunities to play golf.

“I got goosebumps when I thought about it,” he said. “Today I had ups and downs, but for me it’s only good. I’m still going to play the US Open tomorrow.”