Morikawa and Dahmen lead US Open, Canadians Hadwin three behind
BROOKLINE, Mass. – For every Collin Morikawa and his consecutive years to win a major, there is a Joel Dahmen, who only four years ago would have been delighted to even play in one.
Jon Rahm is the defending US Open champion, one shot off the lead. He will play weekends at the Country Club with Hayden Buckley, who studied while playing in Missouri because he thought he would need to find a job after college.
The dozen players separated by two shots heading into the weekend include the top three players in the world rankings and four of the top seven – Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Morikawa.
« I think it’s great for the game of golf to have the top ranked players and the best players up there, especially in the tournament where really the best player ends up winning, » Rahm said.
It also includes two PGA Tour rookies and two players who have never won on tour.
Indeed, this US Open has something for everyone. He just doesn’t have Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut by eight shots.
Morikawa was looking for something in his game and found a « baby draw » instead of his traditional fade, and it worked like a charm at Brookline. He matched the championship’s low score on Friday with a 4-under 66 for a share of the lead. with Dahmen, the cancer survivor and popular golf man.
Rahm did his best to keep pace with an eagle and a series of big par putts that looked equally valuable. Rahm had a 67 and was in the five-player group one shot behind. That included McIlroy, after a Canadian Open victory, which has never been more entertaining.
McIlroy was two holes out of his round when an errant approach landed in waist-high fescue. He took a hack. And then another. Third down finally found the green and he putted 25 feet to save a double bogey.
McIlroy hit his stride on the back nine with three birdies on his final four holes for a 69.
« After 36 holes in a major championship, that’s all you want to do is get in on the action before the weekend, » McIlroy said. “For a small part of the day there, it looked like I was going to be a bit more behind. But I dug deep and played the last eight holes really well.
Not to be overlooked was Scheffler, the world’s No. 1 player, who chipped in from a thick rough court of the par-5 14th green for an eagle that brought the Texan back into the mix with a 67. He was at two strokes behind.
Morikawa, Rahm and Scheffler have combined to win four of the last nine major tournaments. And then there’s McIlroy, who has four majors all to himself, but none since 2014.
“It’s the US Open. Nobody pushed it all the way so far and kind of ran away,” Morikawa said. « The last few days are a huge confidence booster for me heading into this weekend, and hopefully we can sort of make a separation somehow. »
The idea of the US Open is to identify the best players. Some of them require major championship introductions on weekends.
Starting with Dahmen, who will never be accused of taking himself too seriously, even if he takes his game seriously. He considered withdrawing from the 36-hole qualifier twice last week, before it started and after the first round.
But he held on and with a 68 on Friday, he is playing in the last group of a major tournament for the first time. He joined Morikawa at under 135.
“We won’t start until 3:45 p.m. tomorrow. I usually have to be home by 5 a.m. for dinner,” Dahmen said. « So it will be different, that’s for sure. »
The group one shot behind includes Buckley, who was not at the US Open until he made a 20-foot birdie putt in the postseason for the final spot in qualifying 11 days ago.
He was fading, like so many others, with three bogeys during a five-hole streak around the bend when he got back on track. Birdies on the last two holes gave him another 68.
Also at 136, Aaron Wise, with a PGA Tour win and nothing better than a tie for 17th in his previous nine majors; and Beau Hossler, who played weekends at the Olympic Club as a teenage amateur in 2012 but hasn’t been heard from in the majors since then.
They were examples that the US Open being open to all does not end with qualifying for the right to play the toughest test in golf.
Adam Hadwin of Abbotsford, BC, the leader after the first round, shot 2-over 72 on Friday and is now 2 under for the tournament. He birdied his last two holes.
Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ont., was the only other Canadian to qualify. He is 1 more for the tournament.
The weekend will not have Mickelson, hardly a surprise. He took a four-month hiatus over his incendiary remarks about the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed league he was promoting, ended up joining LIV Golf and returned to competition last week with bad luck. results.
The US Open was a slightly stronger test and Mickelson was exposed, especially on the greens, with rounds 78-73 to miss the cut. His next stop is Oregon in two weeks for another LIV Golf event, 54 holes and no cuts.
McIlroy never panicked after his double bogey. He took advantage of birdie chances on the driveable par-4 fifth and the short par-5 eighth. And he finished strong to be well in the game, his main objective for the weekend.
Adding to McIlroy’s anticipation was seeing so many familiar names at the top.
« You want to compete against the best to try and get the best out of yourself, » McIlroy said. « And seeing Collin and Jon and Scottie and Sam (Burns) up there and whoever else is what major championship golf is. That’s what competition is.
“And that’s at the heart of this game. I’m excited to be in this mix going into the weekend.