Erin Hills Starting to Toughen Up
As conditions continued to dry out, Erin Hills began to show that it wasn't going to be the push-over that Thursday's scoring indicated it might be. Greens continued to firm up and speed up throughout the day. The USGA also used a few hole locations that put the field squarely on the defensive. Before overnight leader Rickie Fowler even made it to the first tee Erin Hills was playing nearly 2-strokes harder than the previous day. With rain possible on Saturday, we'll have to see if Erin Hills can continue to challenge the field. Be glad you aren't Mike Davis, or on his committee, who needs to set up this course going into the weekend. The task will be great and compliments are likely to be few and far between. U.S. Open fans are a hard group to please.
A Spectator Passes Away
From a press release provided by the USGA:
The USGA was saddened to learn that a spectator at Erin Hills passed away a short time ago. Out of respect for the family, we are unable to provide additional information at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with those surrounding this individual during this difficult time.
It was later clarified that a 94-year-old male fan had passed away from "natural causes" while attending the event. This tragedy comes just a day after an advertising blimp crashed and burned near the course injuring the pilot.
Casey Battles Back
Paul Casey fell victim to the Erin Hill's fescue on the par-5 14th hole this morning. A triple-bogey 8 was the result of needing two attempts to hack his ball free of the rough. Casey then bogeyed his next hole as well and found himself 4-over on his round after his first 6 holes of the day. Casey did a tremendous job to remain within himself and press on. He rallied by making birdie on 5 of his next 6 holes to get back to 1-under on his round. He ultimately joined Rickie Fowler at 7-under to lead the tournament at the time he finished his round. A true professional and veteran showing how to get it done, he goes to sleep tonight tied for the lead at the U.S. Open.
McIlroy's Struggles Again
Rory McIlroy never was able to get his game on track this week and has missed the cut. Having posted a surprising 6-over 78 on Thursday, McIlroy was going to need something special on Friday just to make the cut. Instead, he managed to shoot a respectable 71 to finish his tournament 5-over par. Going out in even-par for his first 9-holes this morning he kicked off his back-9 with three consecutive bogeys. Until McIlroy is able to show a true sign of his old form questions about his physical health will continue. His performance this week will have folks speculating louder than ever.
Day Goes Home As Well
Jason Day was also in need of a round for the ages following his Thursday score of 79. While showing some signs of improvement early, Day had simply dug himself too deep of a hole to climb out of. His Friday round of 75, with a 40 on his last nine, ended his tournament earlier than many expected at 10-over par. It was Days first missed cut in a major since the 2012 PGA Championship.
Continuing back issues have caused 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett to withdraw today. Willett was also forced to withdraw during his second round of last month's Players due to a similar issue. Willett tried to give it a go yesterday but shot a 9-over 81. Willett commented on his situation via Twitter:
Well another disappointing week comes to an end.. working hard to get back but the body and swing not allowing it.. sorry guys.. WD. 😔😔
— Danny Willett (@Danny_Willett) June 16, 2017
Sergio Garcia Lurking at 3-under
Masters champion Garcia put in a steady round of 71 today. While it will take an impressive display this weekend to contend for the win, with weather expected to move in on Saturday, anything is possible. With the pressure to win his first major now forever gone, expect Garcia to push Erin Hills as much as his game will allow.
Tommy Fleetwood Introduces Himself
Maybe not a familiar name to many PGA Tour fans, Tommy Fleetwood has been making quite a name for himself playing on the European Tour. Fleetwood is currently 2nd on the European Tour's Race to Dubai rankings. While his record in the majors is nothing to get excited about, perhaps this is the week Fleetwood makes his presence known on one of golf's biggest stages. His Friday round of 70 has him sitting at 7-under, tied for the lead at the U.S. Open.
Spieth put together a steady round that will see him into the weekend. It appeared Spieth might be ready to put something special together as he was 2-under after 4 holes. A bogey on 6 followed by a birdie on 7 was about all of the excitement Spieth had for us. A string of pars followed, with a bogey on the 15th, had him finishing the day with a 71 to post even par going into Saturday. Anything is possible with Spieth but he hasn't shown much that would indicate this is his year to win his second U.S. Open.
DJ had another challenging day and as a result, will be joining the group of top players heading home early from Wisconsin. Johnson's round of 73 included yet another strange U.S. Open moment for his collection. While looking for his ball in the fescue on the 7th hole, Johnson accidentally kicked playing partner Jordan Spieth's ball. Thankfully the rules of golf worked in favor of everyone involved. Johnson was not accessed any penalty under Rule 18-4. Spieth was further allowed a free drop under Rule 20-3c when they were not able to accurately determine where Spieth's ball originally was prior to being kicked. Johnson went on to save par out of the fescue and Spieth made birdie.
Unfortunately, Johnson wasn't ever able to find his game this week. He finished Friday at 4-over par and missed the cut. At least he'll have more time to spend with his new baby.
Hideki Matsuyama with a Great Round
One of the tour's hottest players over the last year, Matsuyama put together a round to remember. He tied Reavie for low-round of the day, finishing with a 7-under 65 on a much more challenging Erin Hills than yesterday, Matsuyama is well positioned to possibly make Erin Hills the home of his first major. He enters Saturday at 5-under.
Brooks Koepka Serves Notice
Koepka quietly shot a 67 on Thursday and followed up that performance today with a solid round of 70. He joins the group of four sleeping on the lead at 7-under par. Koepka has flirted with the majors before having finished T4 in the 2014 U.S. Open as well as T4 in the 2016 PGA Championship. Look for Koepka to possibly break through as we head into the weekend.
Brian Harman in Position
Brian Harman put together another consistent round and finds himself sleeping on the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Open. Harman followed up his Thursday 67 with a 3 birdie - 1 bogey 70 to post 7-under par. Harman has won twice on the PGA Tour but has struggled in his previous major appearances. Could this be his week?
Rickie Fowler Loses a Little Momentum
World #5 Rickie Fowler was well on his way to putting together another good round until he hit the back-9. Bogeys on 11, 12, and 13 had Fowler sliding back on Friday afternoon. His round of 73 hurt, but he is still well-positioned to make a run at his first major this weekend at 6-under and one back of the leaders.
- -7 Paul Casey
- -7 Brian Harman
- -7 Tommy Fleetwood
- -7 Brooks Koepka
- -6 Jamie Lovemark
- -6 Rickie Fowler
- -6 JB Holmes
Other Notables Who Missed Cut
- +5 Jon Rahm
- +4 Bubba Watson
- +3 Henrik Stenson
- +3 Adam Scott
- +2 Justin Rose
See everyone again tomorrow!