Dustin Johnson is the only golfer under par after 36 holes at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y. Big names missing the cut at the major tournament include Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Shinnecock Hills is no longer the only challenge at this U.S. Open.
On a course that can cause problems in any weather, where triple bogeys or worse have been recorded on all but six holes, perhaps the most daunting prospect going into the weekend is top-ranked Dustin Johnson with a four-stroke lead.
Johnson played smart on the few occasions he was out of position, holed a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh green and endured wind and about two hours of rain Friday morning for a 3-under-par 67.
Johnson was at 4-under 136, the only player under par through two rounds. Scott Piercy (71) and Charley Hoffman (69) were at even par.
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“You’ve got to play really good golf if you want to shoot a good score, and I like where par is a good score on every hole, no matter what club you’ve got in your hand, what hole it is,” Johnson said.
Six other players in the U.S. Open have led by as many as four shots after 36 holes. All but one — Tom McNamara in 1909 — went on to win the tournament.
Even so, there are plenty of reminders of how it can all go wrong — some of them from Johnson’s own experiences, most of them from the final few hours Friday afternoon in virtually perfect weather from those trying to catch him.
Shinnecock Hills can punish anyone in a New York minute.
“There’s a disaster on every single hole,” Ian Poulter said shortly after he went through one.
Poulter was one shot out of the lead and in the middle of the fairway with two holes to go when one bad shot led to a few more that were worse — a bunker shot that sailed over the green, a chunked chip into the hay, a chop short of the green and a triple bogey on No. 8. He made a bogey on his last hole for a 72.
“I felt stupid knifing the first one,” Poulter said. “I felt even more stupid semi-chunking the next one, and I didn’t do much better on the next one, either. So maybe it makes a few people happy out there that, you know, we kind of mess up just as good as everyone else.”
But Poulter didn’t lose sight of being in a tie for fourth place, five shots out of the lead.
Hoffman was the only other player under par until he missed the 18th fairway and had to chop the ball down the fairway and make a 5-foot putt for a bogey.
“Dustin plays a whole different golf game than I play, so I’m not going to play the guy,” Hoffman said. “I’m just going to keep playing my game. You’re going to try to hit fairways. Because if you don’t hit the fairway, you’re not getting to the green.”
Tiger Woods won’t be around to see how it unfolds, and plenty of star power joined him on the way out of town.
Woods (72) closed with back-to-back birdies. The 14-time major champion still missed the cut in a major for the fifth time in his last eight tries, this time by two shots.
“I’m not very happy with the way I played and the way I putted,” Woods said.
Those at 9-over 149 and worse missed the cut and the group included players ranked fourth through sixth in the world — Jordan Spieth (78-71—149), Jon Rahm (78-77—155) and Rory McIlroy (80-70—150).
Players with local ties missing the cut were Kyle Stanley (75-79—154) of Gig Harbor, Michael Putnam (78-76—154) from University Place and former Washington Husky Chris Babcock (78-76—154) of Shoreline.
Spieth needed three shots to get up a slope and onto the 10th green, making a double bogey. He was three shots over the cut line with six holes to play when he ran off four straight birdies to get inside the number — only to three-putt for a bogey on the 17th, stub a chip from the collar of a bunker on the 18th and miss the par putt. He had not missed the cut in a major since the 2014 PGA Championship.
Meanwhile, McIlroy missed the cut for the third straight year in the U.S. Open.
Piercy, a runner-up to champion Johnson in the U.S. Open at Oakmont two years ago, will play in the final group with him Saturday. Piercy’s day was not without regrets, especially when he three-putted from about 4 feet for a bogey on the par-5 16th.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka made six birdies over his last 11 holes for a 66, matching Tommy Fleetwood for the low round of the tournament. They were at 1 over, along with Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, each with a 70, and Poulter.
• Kirkland homeowner Kevin Chappell (72) was tied for 35th place at 7 over.