Sun, Jun 18, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Four share US Open lead as top three miss the cut

OFF COURSE:A 94-year-old spectator dropped dead in a grandstand and the US Golf Association is providing water after bacteria was found at a hydration station

AP, ERIN, Wisconsin

England’s Paul Casey plays a shot on the eighth hole in the second round of the US Open at Erin Hills in Erin, Wisconsin, on Friday.

Photo: AFP

An 11-year-old golf course shaped from Wisconsin pastureland was sure to bring something different to the US Open. This might have been more than anyone was expecting.

The four players tied for the lead — Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Brian Harman and Tommy Fleetwood — created the largest 36-hole logjam in 43 years at the US Open. None has ever won a major, nor have the next 14 players.

On the longest course ever for a major, the US Open cut was the lowest since 1990.

And for all the birdies and blunders at Erin Hills, the most compelling image on Friday came from the parking lot, where one star after another left town after missing the cut.

Dustin Johnson. Rory McIlroy. Jason Day.

It was the first time since the world ranking began in 1986 that the top three players missed the cut in any major.

Henrik Stenson. Alex Noren. Jon Rahm. Justin Rose. Adam Scott.

Eight of the top 12 players in the world will not be around for the weekend at Erin Hills, leaving a tournament as open as the land on which it was built.

Casey chopped his way to a triple-bogey, only to respond with five straight birdies that carried him to a one-under 71 and made him the first to post at seven-under 137. He set the target early under warm sunshine, and even as the wind tapered in the afternoon, no one could catch him.

Koepka had the lead until he turned a birdie chance into a bogey on the par-five first hole after making the turn. He did not make a birdie the rest of the way and had to settle for a 70.

Casey and Koepka were joined by Harman and Fleetwood, who each had a 70.

Right behind was a trio of players that included Rickie Fowler, who went 28 holes before making his first bogey and then went three holes without making a par. Fowler shot a 73 and was still very much in the hunt at a second straight major.

The four-way tie was the most after two rounds in a US Open since Winged Foot in 1974, back when the names were more familiar for a major — Raymond Floyd, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Hale Irwin, who went on to win his first major.

The past six majors have been won by first-timers, and that cycle has a good chance to continue.

The top 18 players on the leaderboard going into the weekend have combined for zero majors. Only a half-dozen of them have even experienced Sunday contention in golf’s biggest events.

“Tomorrow will be a very cool experience,” Fleetwood said. “It’s still Saturday — 36 holes is a very long time in a US Open. Anything can happen.”

Just about everything already has at Erin Hills.

A commercial blimp crashed to the ground and caught fire just outside the course on Thursday, about the time the county health department was analyzing samples that confirmed evidence of the Escherichia coli bacteria in water at a hydration station near the 12th hole.

The US Golf Association is providing complimentary bottled water for the rest of the week.

There have been no reports of anyone getting sick.

And then on Friday, a 94-year-old man at the tournament for the first time stopped breathing while in a grandstand on the sixth hole and died of what Washington County officials said appeared to be natural causes.

Next up is a weekend without most of the biggest names in golf. The cut for the top 60 and ties was at one-over 145, tying a US Open record set in 1990 at Medinah.

Johnson was hitting it so well that he appeared to be safe even when he was on the cut line. However, he then three-putted from long range on the 13th and the 14th, and lost all hope when he missed the green on the 17th while going after the flag. He shot 73 and missed the cut by three.

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