I can’t imagine the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club locker room is a very happy place right now. Probably won’t be for a few more days, until every player has left the 2018 U.S. Open venue behind, many hoping to never see it again.
The only clear cut “winner” over the first two days is the course itself. Thursday’s opening round gave us 4 putts, false front frenzy, and over 200 double bogeys OR WORSE.
Conditions were a little more favorable for the Friday afternoon wave, but not favorable enough for anyone to make a real run. Tommy Fleetwood and defending champion Brooks Koepka were the standouts with 4 under par 66s, 3 strokes better than the 1 under par 69 posted by 4 players in the opening round.
The list of players who missed the cut has a lot in common with the list of favorites to win the tournament, which speaks to my point last week about the folly of trying to predict winners in majors lately. Among those who won’t be playing this weekend:
Jordan Spieth (+9): This is the biggest surprise. He rattled off 4 consecutive birdies on holes 13-16, but a few bad holes (like 10, where he made double bogey) put him over par for a second straight day and 9 over for the first 36 holes. He missed the cut by a single stroke.
Rory McIroy, Tiger Woods (+10): Both players improved on their day one disasters; Tiger went 78-72, while Rory shaved 10 strokes off in between rounds with 80-70. But neither effort was anywhere near good enough to undo the damage of the first round.
Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia: All three played uninspired golf in the opening round, but Sergio doubled down with a 79 on day 2 after carding a 75 in the opener.
As for the guys who are actually playing this weekend, it’s all about DJ. Dustin Johnson followed up his 1 under par 69 on Thursday with a 3 under par 67 in round 2. He made every putt he needed to, and then some – like the 45 footer for birdie on the par 3 7th. To give you the idea of the speed, one Fox commentator clocked the roll time of that putt at 11 seconds. A wounded duckling could have waddled backwards into the hole faster than that.
With conditions expected to improve again on Saturday, “moving day” could turn in to “proving day” for Johnson. A chance to prove he’s got the distance, the short game, and the grit to keep his lead and build on it.
And to prove he’s more than a 1 time major winner.
NOTE: Special props to Brockton firefighter Matt Parziale. He was a fan favorite already after winning the Mid-Amateur and getting the Masters invite earlier this year, and will gain a lot more fans after making the cut with rounds of 74 and 73. Way to go Matt. You’re a hero in more ways than one.
— By Rob “Hardy” Poole, 98.5 The Sports Hub
You can hear Hardy’s thoughts weekdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. ET on the Zolak & Bertrand program. As well as the Sports Hub Golf Club every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET during the season. Follow him on Twitter @HardyRadio.