Louis Oosthuizen caresses in a 20-footer for birdie at 13 and climbs up to tied third.
Two random Oosthuizen stats to light up most dinner parties:
1) He’s never won an event on American soil
2) After a 67 yesterday, the South African surpassed Jack Nicklaus for the most rounds of 67 or lower in US Open history (8)
A smile and a cheery wave to the imaginary crowds from Bryson DeChambeau. The 224-yard par-3 3rd isn’t a birdie hole but the former US Amateur champ turns it into one by draining his 25-footer. For the third time today he follows a bogey with a birdie and this latest red number puts him back to -1 for the tournament and looking dangerous in T11th.
The PGA Tour website actually has a ‘Bounce Back’ stat which measures the percent of time a player is over par on a hole and then under par on the following hole. The top seven in the just-completed 2020 season are: Will Gordon, Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson, Aaron Wise, Grayson Murray, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose. Note the three US Open champs in that list, showcasing how temperament is a vital weapon when trying to win this most attritional major.
Jon Rahm hit just two greens in regulation over his first 10 holes but he finds the par-4 11th in two and will have around 15 feet for birdie. Some short-game prowess has reduced the bogey count but lying 2-over for the day and +1 overall wasn’t in this thoughts this morning.
Hats off to Lee Westwood for some US Open resilience today. Three bogeys in his first six holes suggested this could be a very long day indeed but the Englishman has played his next eight holes in 1-under to hang on in there at -1. Yesterday’s 67 gave him a certain amount of wriggle room heading out this morning and, despite the slips, he’s still only four off the lead.
Matthew Wolff (-3) is in a whole heap of trouble at 1 (his 10th). He finds the thick stuff up at the green and has no control as he hacks out high into the sky. The ball floats far too far and almost runs off the other side of the green.
In other news, if Tony Finau could putt he’d be about five shots clear. His dubious speciality is missing six footers and another one slides by at 2. Back-to-back bogeys and he’s back to Evens.
If someone had analysed trends and data to try and predict the winner here, the best fit would have been Daniel Berger. The American is the ideal candidate in terms of age, world ranking, experience and form and the numbers even show that it’s better not to have won a major. Berger, who was sixth at Shinnecock two years ago, ticks that box too. So it’s validation for those responsible for ‘Project Bergerbot 2020’ to see him with the best score of the day so far. He’s 3-under on the card and Evens overall.
Thanks Gregg. You’ll notice the sudden lack of the name ‘Pieters’ on the latest leaderboard. The Belgian had a tricky birdie try at 15 which he steered to close range. But he knocked the par putt twice as far away and looked to be staring a dreaded four-putt square in the face. He did well to hole the return putt but that’s a fourth bogey in six holes on this troublesome second nine. At least he now has an easy run of par 4s measuring 488, 501 and 465 yards to close his round! Tough times for Pieters and his drive at 16 trickles into the rough.
4pm BST leaderboard
-5 Thomas (-)
-4 Reed (-)
-3 Wolff (9), McIlroy (-)
Right, Dave is back and will update the leaderboard shortly. See you again soon.
Luis Oosthuizen has saved par with a monster putt on the 10th to keep himself in good company in a group of seven who are all lurking with intent on -2. Make that a group of six. Finau, on the 1st (his 1oth) was among them. He’s not any more. He landed his second miles from the pin after struggling to make sense of the wind and three-putted as many have on this most difficult of holes.
Xander Schauffele fluffs a very puttable eagle attempt at the 9th after two wonderful shots got him to within 10ft. He just doesn’t go after the putt with any conviction. A tap-in for birdie takes the young American from San Diego back to -2 for the championship, though.
Winged Foot has really sunk its teeth into Pieters in the past couple of hours. Having led at -6 not so long ago, he is has just arrived on the 15th frantically searching for his missing mojo. He looked to be in recovery mode after making par at the 13th, but another dropped shot at the 14th has taken him back to -3.
“I am stunned by the stat that no left handed has won the US Open,” writes David Gaskell. “I am a leftie and in my seventies. I have now bought a practice net for the garden. I am also looking for the odds, betting wise. Do you think Phil is setting up a ‘Sting’? He likes his bets.” Given he needs about five or six birdies in the next nine holes to make the cut, I very much doubt that David.
DJ thrashes wildly at his second on the 18th, ripping through the rough to try and get the ball over the false front that guards the 18th green. His ball falls short though and down, down, down it rolls. He’s not going to get up and down from there in two is he? Oh, yes. Yes he is! A fine little scoop up for his third leaves him a right-to-left 10-footer that he absolutely nails. A fine par. Finau, meanwhile, taps home for par after waiting an age for the wind to die down. The flags are flapping at Winged Foot.
Tony Finau has hit a lovely drive down the 18th (his ninth), arcing beautifully to land on the tricky dog leg before bounding off down the fairway. Just making par here is a feat. Finau is at 1-2 for the championship and looks ever so relaxed. Dustin Johnson may be ruffled for the first time today though. He lands his drive in the rough to the left and could be staring at the first blemish on his card for round two.
Up ahead of Westwood on the 217-yard par-3 13th, Pieters has given himself a birdie chance with a sizzling iron off the tee. His ball lands with a plop and puts the brakes on before rolling gently down the slope about 15 feet from the pin. Having made two bogeys in the past three holes, how he would like to get the blood pumping again with a birdie. It’s not to be, though. His putt squirts past to the right of the cup.
Lee Westwood is trying to get his round back on track after a testing morning, in which he made three bogies on the first eight before making birdie at 9. He’s +2 for the day and -1 for the tournament. And he cracked a lovely tee-shot down the tricky par-3 10th to ensure he makes par there, too. He was whisker away from a birdie.
3pm BST leaderboard
-5 Thomas (-)
-4 Pieters (11)
-4 Reed (-)
-3 Wolff (6)
-3 McIlroy (-)
Hello, Gregg here. I’ll be with you for the next hour while Dave takes a little break. How are we all? Good to hear. Having taken a little peek at the scores for the holes on day two, the average on the vast majority of them is up on the first day. Winged Foot has sharpened its claws and many of those who have gone out this morning have been bloodied. Not the 2016 champion, though. Dustin Johnson has made a fine start, with two birdies from his first seven holes today, He is loitering with intent at +1.
And with that, I shall hand over to Gregg Bakowski to guide you through the next hour.
Pieters’ missed fairway at 11 leads to a second straight bogey. The ship is leaking oil suddenly and he drops to 4-under and out of the lead.
Par putts from 10 feet are worth their weight in gold in conditions like this and that’s why Jon Rahm fist pumps at 15. Following his bogey-birdie start, the Spaniard has reeled off four pars to remain 1-under. As with DJ, official status: lurking.
Prowling DJ. The world number one goes 2-under for his round and +1 overall with a short birdie conversion at 15 (his sixth). That two-shot swing with Pieters means Johnson is now within six of the lead.
A first blip of the day from Thomas Pieters as a poor tee-shot at 10 leads to a bogey. Hopefully this won’t be a tale of two nines and he can get back on track. For now, he’s tied for the lead again with Justin Thomas, who tees off later today.
Update: Pieters drags his tee-shot at 11 into the thick stuff. Hmmm.
Strange but true: no left-hander has ever won the US Open. Phil Mickelson has obviously had multiple stabs at it, finishing runner-up six times. But Bubba Watson hasn’t brought much to the table though, not managing a single top 50 in his last nine attempts. He’s going okay here though: -1 for the day (7) and +1 overall. Not that I’ll be putting any money on him to win, mind.
A total of 21 players started round two in red figures. That’s now down to 15 as Winged Foot picks them off one by one. How many will still be under par at close of play?
Perhaps the subject of that last tweet should have been chosen more carefully. DeChambeau has just knocked in a 12-footer for birdie at 14 to climb to -1.
Back at 9, Pieters just misses with his birdie try on the course’s first par 5 but that’s a wonderful outward half of 2-under and he leads the 120th US Open by a shot from Justin Thomas.
An ugly 5-5-5 start for Rickie Fowler. That equates to double bogey, bogey, par so a very positive take is that he’s improving on each hole. But, he started the day in red figures and is now 2-over. The recent uncertainties in his game appear to be being exposed by the tougher conditions today.
Daniel Berger is digging in after a difficult first day. The in-form American had to settle for a 73 yesterday but is 1-under after 5 today and back up to +2 alongside Johnson.
He’s had some chances but world number one Dustin Johnson hasn’t been able to build on his opening birdie-2 at 10. A trio of pars keep him ticking over although he’ll want to find the more scenic waters of even par or better sooner rather than later. DJ currently +2 and T44.
When Pieters does threaten to wobble, his putter comes to the rescue. He faces an eight-footer for par at 8 but rolls it in with no fuss at all. Great stuff from the Belgian.
2pm BST leaderboard
-6 Pieters (8)
-5 Thomas (-)
-4 Reed (-)
-3 Cabrera Bello (5), Oosthuizen (3), McIlroy (-)