Rickie Fowler – once referred to as the best player not to have won a major – holds a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the US Open, but has a host of players just behind him who will be hoping that it stays that way come Sunday night.
Eight birdies and six bogeys saw Fowler add a two-under par 68 to the previous day’s 62 and move him to 10 under for the championship – a joint US Open record for 36 holes. The Californian holds a one-shot lead over fellow American Wyndham Clark, with Rory McIlroy just a shot further back in third alongside Xander Schauffele.
“I’m in the lead, but we’re only halfway there,” said Fowler, 34, whose last win came at the Phoenix Open in 2019 and whose world ranking slipped to 167 as recently as 11 months ago. “Being in the lead is nice, but it really means nothing right now. I’m looking forward to continuing to challenge myself and go out there and try and execute the best I can.”
Many expected the USGA to toughen up the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club after a day of record scoring on Thursday, but there were still plenty of birdies to be had on Friday and a remarkable third hole-in-one of the tournament. That was achieved at the short 15th by defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick during a second round 71 that leaves the Yorkshireman with plenty of work to do if he is to retain his title.
Schauffele, who matched Fowler’s 62 on Thursday, did not bring the same magic on Friday, but after three consecutive bogeys he finished with two birdies to sign for a level-par 70 to join McIlroy on eight under. Scottie Scheffler is not too far away on five under after a 68, with Cameron Smith rounding out the top 10 on four under after a 67.
Teeing off on the 10th, things did not go McIlroy’s way over his first nine holes and he was in danger of sliding out of contention with three bogeys and a solitary birdie, but the response was emphatic. Six birdies followed, four in his last five holes, including coming within inches of making a hole-in-one at the par-three ninth, in contrast to his bogey finish in the first round.
With the cut falling at +2, a host of big names won’t be around for the weekend, including Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Phil Mickelson, Max Homa, Justin Rose and Jason Day. Thomas fared the worst of those, finishing on 14 over after a nightmare second round 81 that featured three double bogeys. Also riding the bogey train was Dustin Johnson, but most of his dropped shots came in a single hole when he racked up a quadruple on the par-four second hole but managed to end the day with a level-par 70 to sit just four off the lead on six under.
Masters champion Jon Rahm made the cut with no margin to spare with a second round 73 that left the Spaniard fuming after an error-strewn day that featured six bogeys and leaves him a long way off the pace in his search to win a second US Open title.
For all the scores from the 123rd US Open, click here.