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Winged Foot bites back in Round 2

3 Min Read


Tougher conditions, tucked pins led to carnage

    Written by Cameron Morfit @CMorfitPGATOUR

    MAMARONECK, N.Y. – The casualties were many, and gruesome.

    Sung Kang and J.T. Poston, PGA TOUR winners both, shot 86 and 82, respectively. Jordan Spieth came in with an 81 to get the weekend off. Tiger Woods didn’t do much better than he did at the last U.S. Open at Winged Foot, carding a second-round 77 to miss the cut at 10 over.

    The first round of the 120th U.S. Open was notable for its red numbers, with more scores of 66 or better (four) than Winged Foot had given up in five previous U.S. Opens combined. But after 21 players broke par in the opening round, only three did in round two. Patrick Reed sat atop the leaderboard at 4 under par after a hard-fought 70.

    Bryson DeChambeau, who shot the best score with a 2-under 68, was just one back. Rafa Cabrera Bello (70), Harris English (70) and Justin Thomas (73) were 2 under, two behind.

    “Clearly,” said Cabrera Bello, “the wind has picked up significantly.”

    Not only that, but it also changed direction. The first three holes, which were downwind Thursday, played straight into the wind Friday. Fairway woods were a common choice of even the longest hitters at the par-3 third, even with the USGA having moved the tees up.

    The earliest starters got relative calm conditions, but they didn’t last.

    “Yeah, this morning was actually okay,” said Belgium’s Thomas Pieters, who shot 2 under on the front nine to reach 6 under for the solo lead. “It wasn't that windy.”

    Alas, the wind picked up for his back nine, when he made six bogeys for a 74 (even).

    “My scorecard says it all,” Pieters said.

    Matthew Wolff was holding steady at 3 under par and two off the lead when he made the turn, but bogeyed four of the first five holes on the front. The most egregious indignity was probably at the par-3 third, when he hit his long birdie too soft and watched it climb a hill only to trundle backward, stopping only marginally closer to the hole. He made bogey.

    Course set-up had something to do with it, too. Although the USGA was said to be making things slightly easier in an effort to get all 144 players around in roughly two hours less daylight in September, there were signs early that there would be no such generosity in round two.

    The hole location at the first was three paces from the left, at the second it was just four paces from the right, and so on, encouraging short-side misses, of which there were many.

    “I also felt the greens have got maybe a smidge quicker and a bit firmer,” said Cabrera Bello, who made five birdies and five bogeys. “But I also felt like some of the pins were a little bit tougher, harder to access today. Obviously more of a U.S. Open setup you would expect.”

    Shane Lowry, who rebounded from an opening 76 to shoot even-par 70, was hoping to make the cut (he did) after fighting the course to a draw. “I played lovely today,” he said.

    Lee Westwood, who had opened with a 67, faded with a 76 to go into the weekend at 3 over.

    “So a bit disappointed to finish like that,” he said, “but 3 over par here for the week, and you never know what's going to happen in U.S. Opens, do you?”

    With Winged Foot getting tougher by the minute, you definitely don’t.

    Cameron Morfit began covering the PGA TOUR with Sports Illustrated in 1997, and after a long stretch at Golf Magazine and joined PGATOUR.COM as a Staff Writer in 2016. Follow Cameron Morfit on Twitter.