We’re halfway home at the U.S. Open, and Winged Foot spent Friday reminding everyone that there’s a reason it’s annihilated so many golf hopes through the years. A quick rundown of what you need to know heading into Saturday...
Winged Foot’s mule kick
Well, that didn’t last. After a Thursday in which the field posted the lowest average score ever recorded at a U.S. Open, Winged Foot absolutely decimated the world’s best. Thursday had 21 rounds under par; Friday had three. The score that led after Friday was one stroke worse than the score that led Thursday.
When Thursday-Friday scores start to resemble easy NBA victories, you know something’s up. Rory McIlroy, for instance, went 67-76; Jordan Spieth, 73-81; Justin Thomas, 65-73; Tiger Woods, 73-77. Winged Foot heard you were talking trash, and made the pros pay.
Fan-fave final pairing
Bryson DeChambeau scooted out early and posted a -2 round to end up in a tie for second at -3, while Patrick Reed ground out an even-par round to remain at -4 and in possession of the solo lead. They’re both brilliant talents, both with the game off the tee and creativity around the greens to bring home this tournament. They also inspire more hatred and derision than pretty much any other two golfers on Tour, now that Ian Poulter isn’t as much of a force. Whether it’s DeChambeau’s arrogant mad scientist routine or Reed’s petulant nobody-loves-me sneer, these two have made careers out of carving their own path, to hell with what anyone else thinks ... and if one of them ends up with a U.S. Open trophy, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, does it?
A stacked leaderboard
Reed’s at -4, DeChambeau’s at -3, and everyone else is at -2 or worse. That means that in the space of a hole or two tomorrow, if the leaders struggle — and let’s be honest, everyone is going to struggle — this horse race opens up wide again.
Justin Thomas (-2) is the only player besides Reed in the top 10 with a major, but post-Tiger golf is a world where prior experience doesn’t really factor into present results. It wouldn’t be a shock at all to see Xander Schauffele, Hideki Matsuyama or Brendon Todd, all of whom are sitting at even par, to hold on and win this. Just a touch down the leaderboard, Jon Rahm (+1), Tony Finau (+2) and even Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson (+3) lurk. It’s a tall task to come from, say, seven down to win a U.S. Open ... but this is a tournament that could well go sideways in a hurry, and the player who can ride it out is going to be atop the leaderboard come Sunday morning.
Tiger and Phil
It was ugly. They both missed the cut for the first time together at a U.S. Open and only the second time ever, after last year’s Open Championship. What else do you need to know?
Shot of the day, #1:
Hideki Matsuyama with some pull-the-string magic on the putting green:
Chip it up and let it roll back.— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 18, 2020
Hideki Matsuyama uses the slope on the green to perfection. 👏pic.twitter.com/FNcV1Jvqph
That’s sorcery right there.
Shot of the day, #2:
Matthew Fitzpatrick may or may not be a basketball fan, but this was some Steph Curry stuff right here:
Nothing but the bottom of the cup!
Quote of the day:
“I don't really like to feed off of other people's problems.” — Xander Schauffele on whether he’d be rooting for the afternoon wave to struggle
Quote of the day, #2:
“I don’t know.” -Phil Mickelson on whether this would be his final U.S. Open
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee and contact him with tips and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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