Re-crowned world #1 Dustin Johnson leads the 118th US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club by 4 strokes heading into the weekend after posting a 3-under 67 Friday morning in brutal conditions. The 2016 US Open champion has steadily dominated the tough links-style course in Southampton, posting a 69 Thursday afternoon before cruising to a 4 birdie/1 bogey round Friday battling stiff winds and unexpected light rain. 66 others will chase DJ this weekend, who’s been electric both with the driver and the flat stick thus far. He had incredible composure these first 2 days amidst large galleries of Northeast fans following him as well as playing partners Justin Thomas (formers world #1 and 2017 FedEx Cup champion) and 14-time major champ Tiger Woods. Johnson, who is coming off a win at the St. Jude Classic last week at TPC Southwind, could become the first player in US Open history to win the championship after winning the previous week on Tour.
DJ’s Friday 67 was his 8th US Open round in the 60s in the past 5 opens- the most by any player. Recent statistics suggest Johnson is in the driver seat to win it all as well- the previous 4 US Open champions led or co-led after 36 holes (Koepka, Johnson, Spieth and Kaymer). In just 11 US Open starts, Johnson has been in the top-5 after 36 holes 5 times. And according to the USGA, 38.6% of U.S. Open champions since 1898 have led or been T-1 after Round 2 (44 championships and 41 players). Asked how he feels having a lead once again at a US Open, Johnson said, “I like being in the lead for sure. It’s less shots you’ve got to make up. Right now I’m in a good position going into the weekend. [But] there’s still 36 holes left.’’
Americans Scott Piercy and Charley Hoffman both sit at even par in a tie for second place. Piercy, who won the 2018 Zurich Classic with Billy Horschel in April, shared the lead with Johnson at -1 after round 1 before posting a 71 Friday. Hoffman, coming off an appearance for the United States’ team at the 2017 Presidents Cup, has yet to register a top-10 this season and missed 2 of 3 cuts heading into Shinnecock.
Defending US Open champ Brooks Koepka (who tied for the low round of the week with a Friday 66) sits in a tie for 4th at +1. Koepka, who has missed chunks of this season due to a wrist injury, says that he is pleased putts are finally starting to roll in for him. “I felt like I hit good putts yesterday and nothing went in… [I]t’s nice to see some putts finally go in,” Koepka told reporters coming off the course Friday. “But it’s a US Open, so disaster is always around the corner- you never know what’s gonna happen.”
With Koepka at +1 are a trio of Englishmen (Justin Rose, Ian Poulter and Tommy Fleetwood) plus Swede Henrik Stenson. Rose is one of the 5 past US Open champs (out of 12) in the field this week to make the cut (Johnson, Koepka, Jim Furyk at +4 and Webb Simpson at +7 are the others). Rose said his group got lucky today going off in the afternoon, but like many others this week he too had a rough patch- finishing +2 over his last 2 holes. “[T]hat bogey-bogey is frustrating now. Once everyone taps in tonight I’ll reevaluate and I’ll look at my position and think I’m in a great spot heading into the weekend,” Rose said after round 2.
When asked if leader Dustin Johnson is catchable, Rose pointed to Ian Poulter’s poor finish as an example- “That can happen to DJ. I’m not saying it’s gonna but it could- that’s the nature of the US Open.” Rose was commenting on Poulter’s triple bogey-bogey finish to close out a round in which he was -2 at one point. Poulter’s 7 on the par-4 8th occurred minutes before Rose took the podium. The British duo have been friends for decades and memorably played well for Team Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Fleetwood was honest with reporters Friday, acknowledging Shinnecock got the best of him through most of round 1. “I was six over through 15 holes of the tournament and struggling,” Fleetwood recalled. “I had missed a few putts and I was on a really bad run of bogeys. I still had three holes left. Thankfully I managed to grab one in the last three, then shoot 66 and all of a sudden you’re in contention.” Tying for the low round of the week thus far at 66, Fleetwood hit 16 of 18 greens en route to a 6 birdie/2 bogey second round.
But another of this week’s biggest stories is who will NOT be playing this weekend- and the list is impressive. Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Chart Schwartzel, Matt Kuchar, Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth all missed the +8 cut line. Arguably the most disappointed of the bunch was Spieth, who after birdieing holes 13-16 bogeyed 17 and 18 to miss the cut by just a stroke. Rory McIlroy engaged in a fierce comeback as well- shooting a 31 on the back 9 but missed the cut by 2 strokes at +10.
Coming into this week 3 players had streaks of at least 8 consecutive cuts made at the US Open- Matt Kuchar (8), Sergio Garcia (10) and Steve Stricker (10). Stricker, who made the cut on the number at +8, extends his streak to 11 consecutive US Open cuts made, while Kuchar and Sergio will lose theirs.
The biggest star of the cut group is of course Tiger Woods, who finished +10 and struggled to make putts the entire week. This is just his 3rd missed cut at a US Open in his career (excluding a WD in his first US Open in 1995). “I think [all the majors are] hard,” said Woods. “They’re not easy. I mean, I’ve won a few of them over the course of my career, and they’re the hardest fields and usually the hardest setups. So they’re meant to be testers. You don’t win major championships by kind of slapping all around the place and missing putts. You have to be on.”
“Unfortunately, it’s just what I’ve done the last few events. I just haven’t putted well. You know, if I would have putted like I did the beginning of the year with this ball-striking, that would be ideal. Unfortunately, I just haven’t done that. I’m hitting it just fine,” Woods said after his round of 72 Friday. “I just have not made any putts. I haven’t made those key ones to keep the momentum going, or if I have any positive momentum. I miss a putt and derail it. I just haven’t made those key putts in the last few events.”
Below are the Saturday tee times for the US Open. For those attending, gates open at 6am and parking for fans arriving by car will be at Francis S. Gabreski Airport. Shuttles will be provided and take about 25 minutes to get to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Streaming on USOpen.com will run from 11am to 6:30pm. TV coverage on FOX will begin at 11am and run to 7:30pm.
9:07 a.m. – Tim Wilkinson
9:18 a.m. – Bill Haas; Jhonattan Vegas
9:29 a.m. – Matthieu Pavon; Cameron Wilson
9:40 a.m. – Brandt Snedeker; Kiradech Aphibarnrat
9:51 a.m. – Steve Stricker; Gary Woodland
10:02 a.m. – Dean Burmester; Luis Gagne (a)
10:13 a.m. – Daniel Berger; Kevin Chappell
10:24 a.m. – Matt Parziale (a); Byeong Hun An
10:35 a.m. – Haotong Li; Ross Fisher
10:46 a.m. – Francesco Molinari; Webb Simpson
10:57 a.m. – Tony Finau; Peter Uihlein
11:08 a.m. – Brian Gay; Sam Burns
11:19 a.m. – Chris Naegel; Dylan Meyer
11:30 a.m. – Andrew Johnston; Phil Mickelson
11:41 a.m. – Zach Johnson; Paul Casey
11:52 a.m. – Louis Oosthuizen; Patrick Cantlay
12:03 p.m. – Aaron Baddeley; Xander Schauffele
12:14 p.m. – Bryson DeChambeau; Hideki Matsuyama
12:25 p.m. – Tyrrell Hatton; Patrick Reed
12:36 p.m. – Branden Grace; Jimmy Walker
12:47 p.m. – Brendan Steele; Will Grimmer (a)
12:58 p.m. – Ryan Fox; Calum Hill
1:09 p.m. – Mickey DeMorat; Russell Knox
1:20 p.m. – Patrick Rodgers; Brian Harman
1:31 p.m. – Tyler Duncan; Jason Dufner
1:42 p.m. – Justin Thomas; Pat Perez
1:53 p.m. – Jim Furyk; Alex Noren
2:04 p.m. – Rafa Cabrera Bello; Charles Howell
2:15 p.m. – Matthew Fitzpatrick; Marc Leishman
2:26 p.m. – Rickie Fowler; Russell Henley
2:37 p.m. – Ian Poulter; Brooks Koepka
2:48 p.m. – Justin Rose; Henrik Stenson
2:59 p.m. – Tommy Fleetwood; Charley Hoffman
3:10 p.m. – Scott Piercy; Dustin Johnson
Make sure to follow The Wrightway Network on Instagram (@thewrightwaysportsnetwork) for LIVE COVERAGE of the 118th US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, NY.