By James Corrigan in Los Angeles
YouTube boasts that with its extensive catalogue anyone can learn how to do almost anything and Rory McIlroy believes that the videos can make him again become Rory McIlroy, major-winner.
After a 67 that leaves him just two of the halfway lead here at the US Open, the Northern Irishman revealed that watching clips of himself from the 2014 Open Championship has made him realise that he does possess the patience within to stay disciplined in the game’s most challenging tests.
Certainly, McIlroy showed plenty of that virtue in his morning second round that took a brutal 5hrs 40mins to complete. Starting on the 10th, the world No 3 alarmingly tumbled down the scoreboard as he played his opening nine in two-over, but then thrust himself back into the picture by scooting through his second nine in five-under. At day’s end, he was in third, two off Rickie Fowler’s lead.
“For me there is the scoring discrepancy from my front nines to my back nines,” McIlroy said, referring to the fact that for his two rounds he is 10-under for the front half and two-over for the back half. “It seems like a course where you try to make your score on the front and then try to hang on on the back.”
It sounds straightforward, but McIlroy acknowledges that in recent years he has been overly gung-ho when the silverware is in tantalising sight. His natural urge is to be aggressive, but at times that is not the wise course of action in tournament conditions.
“I’ve gone through periods over the last few years where I haven’t been patient enough and I’ve taken on too much,” he said. “Even at The Memorial [two weeks ago] it was tough at the weekend to stay patient there. I’ve had some tests recently where you have to display patience, and hopefully those few experiences will help me this weekend.”
So far, he has managed to keep his discipline in check and McIlroy puts that down to that precious coverage of The Open nine years ago, the season when he last won a major. “For whatever reason, I went on to YouTube a few weeks ago and was just looking back at like Hoylake in 2014 and I actually couldn’t believe how many irons and three-woods I was hitting off the tee,” he said.
“That set something off in my mind. ‘You know how to do this… you know how to play smart… you don’t have to hit driver all the time…’. Yes, it’s a big weapon, it’s a big advantage, but I keep saying I’ve got more weapons in my arsenal now than I did back then. So I may as well use them.”
If the attitude is on point, then so, too, is the technique. Having struggled with a two-way miss all season, McIlroy, 34, looks to have eradicated the gremlins.
“It feels so much better now and I think the last fortnight has seen me feel more comfortable in my swing,” he said. “I feel I’m hitting the ball well – I’ve hit it well off the tee. Coming into this week I felt that was going to be a key and that’s really my gameplan over the next few days. Put the ball in play off the tee, and I think I’ll be just fine from there.
McIlroy is not ducking the challenge. Indeed, he is almost willing this to become a more traditional US Open. “The course has played maybe a little easier than everyone thought it would, but wouldn’t be surprised to see it bite back on the weekend, which is what a US Open is all about,” he said “It should be tough. It should be just as much of a mental grind out there as a physical one.”
Of course, McIlroy has been in this position many times since he won his fourth and most recent major, but he is adamant that he is not weary as another Sunday opportunity beckons. “I’ve come close since 2014 and I keep coming back,” he said. “I feel like I’ve showed a lot of resilience in my career, a lot of ups after the downs. Whether that means that I get rewarded or I get punched in the gut, I’ll always keep coming back.”
In truth, he enjoyed the advantage of playing on the easier side of the draw. The conditions were benign all day on Thursday and on Friday morning once again the LA Country Club was inviting with its greens softened up by the early mists. But at lunchtime the sun came out and the wind picked up and suddenly the test was very different.
Fowler dug deep, following up his 62 with a 68 to reach double digits and equal Martin Kaymer’s record for the low 36 holes in the US Open and so did the other American who fired an opening 62. Xander Schauffele birdied the last two holes for a 70 to stand alongside McIlroy.
Fowler is one clear of another countryman in Wyndham Clark, while Harris English is in fifth on seven-under and Dustin Johnson in a tie for sixth with Australian Min Woo Lee.
Johnson, the 2016 champion, took a quadruple-bogey eight on the par-four second, after finding a fairway bunker off the tee and then requiring a penalty drop from a dried gully (known here as a “barranca”). But with five birdies negating the bogey on the fourth, the LIV golfer posted a 70.
“To get it back to even par for the day and six-under for the tournament keeps me right in the mix going into the weekend,” Johnson said. “I’m definitely proud of the way I came back and finished off the round.”
Phil Mickelson’s hopes of completing the career slam at the age of 53 came crashing down when he shot a 74 to miss the cut on three-over. He was in good company. Jordan Spieth, the 2015 champion, was left stranded on the same mark after a 73, while the woefully out-of-form Justin Thomas laboured to a nightmare 81 to finish on 14-over.
Fowler finishes his round, going into the weekend on 10-under par
It’s a 26 footer… and he just strokes past. That was almost his 19th birdie. He’ll knock the par in to go in with a one-shot lead.
That’s a 62, followed by a 68 at the US Open halfway point.
Rickie makes the 18th green in two
Big applause for out leader. Can he make another birdie?
Fowler gets ANOTHER birdie to go back to -10
Just three pars on this round for Rickie on this round.
Eight birdies and six bogeys for our leader.
Collin Morikawa (+1) chases weekend play
Schauffele (-6) shoots his third-straight bogey
His tee shot on the 115-yard 15th went to the back-right side leaving him with a tricky read, 30 feet out with that raised shelf between him and the hole. He sends his first putt right, but it doesn’t cut back in, leaving him with a lot to do.
His par putt is an inch wide – so close there – wiggling left last-minute and away from the hole.
Fowler bogeys the 16th
Back he goes to tie with Clark, the early clubhouse leader.
Schauffele slips back to -7
The errors are creeping in for Schauffele, overcooking on the approach costing him dearly on the 14th. He’s just bogeyed, dropping back to -7 after missing his 12-footer.
Big mistake by Schauffele (-8) on the 14th
A bad error to miss the green from 97 yards, his third shot on the par-five 14th. Solid contact, but he gave it a little gas at the bottom of the swing. It hits the downslope and takes a ricochet and heads into the rough on the far side of the green. The lie doesn’t look as difficult as it could’ve been if there’s any silver lining.
He doesn’t quite hit the follow-up solid enough and still has work to do to make par.
Fowler makes the birdie
Back he goes to -10, sinking the eight-footer. He’s now made 17 birdies for the week.
Rose misses his birdie shot, settling for par.
Fowler, Rose and Day move onto the par-three 15th
Rose pulls out his 56 degree sand-wedge. He’s got to catch it all. And he does. It was worth the long conversation with his caddy. He’s continuing his comeback to make it into the weekend.
Day (+6) goes long, presenting a tough putt over the lump in the green.
Fowler is dialed in with his wedge play, nice high trajectory, landing onto that right side of the slope. He’s in the best position of the three of them. A solid birdie shout to come.
Meanwhile, Schauffele (-8) has dropped a shot, bogeying the par-four 13th before the tricky par-five 14th.
Rose moves into contention for the cut
Rose birdies the 14th, moving to +2, putting himself back in contention for the cut. He’s two-under for the day.
Fowler misses his birdie putt, but he’ll settle for a par – not an easy one this 605-yard par-five. They’ll progress onto the 115-yard par three 15th.
Fowler now on the approach to the par five 14th – executed confidently
It’s 110 yards. He needed a good shot right there – and he got it. He put all his weight on his left leading foot and stopped just six yards past the hole.
Schauffele’s birdie putt on the 12th
It just loses its speed at the end, turning too soon. He’s down for a par. Still sniffing for a chance to take the solo lead.
Fowler drops a shot
Fowler misses his par putt on the 13th. He goes back to -9.
Schauffele nails his approach on the 12th
Ideal for Schauffele (-9) on the 12th. He goes right over the flag, and then spins gently backwards, leaving him with a three-yard birdie shout.
Fowler, Rose and Day are onto the 13th
Fowler on the 13th is a long way back for his approach. He makes the front edge of the green though, bouncing on from the fringe. He’s got to putt up the hill now, a big time left-to-right from there.
Rickie Fowler is back in the solo lead
He makes the seven-yard putt on the 12th, a big backstroke, a four foot break. Back to -10.
Fowler safe off the tee on the 12th
Fowler hit 231 off the tee on 12, a rather conservative tee shot. He’ll be 150 to the front edge, playing up slope. He’s in deep consultation with his caddy about what to play.
He pulls out the eight-iron.
Starts out well to the left, cutting it, on a pretty good line. Stops seven yards past the hole, left hand side. He’ll have a birdie shout here.
The sun is out and the wind has picked up. It’s a much more difficult challenge than the one for yesterday’s afternoon players.
The front nine
It’s 400 yards shorter, and has so far given 120 more birdies than the back nine.
Another bogey for Fowler as he drops to -9
Rose rattles his par home, much needed as he’s two outside the cut line. He did really well to get out of the hay after a wayward tee shot.
Fowler, from three yards, misses his par putt. It dives across the face, a bit of a misread from Rickie and he moves back to -9. There’s now a three way tie at the top between Clark, Fowler and Schauffele.
Firmness developing under foot – the greens are racing now
Day, Rose and Fowler are going off 11 now. It’s 257 yards off the tee, with an elevation drop of 58 feet to the hole.
Day’s gone into the wide-right rough. Rickie’s landed front edge, but his ball canon off to the back of the green now they’re drying up and moving rapidly.
Schauffele (-9) does as well as he could’ve done out the bunker there
Wide open club face, loads of speed, generating as much speed as he could and nudging just past the hole. He’s put himself in the best possible position to rescue the par going into the turn.
And he saves it.
Schauffele hits the sand
Horrid spot for Shauffele on the 9th. The mic picks up the conversations with his caddy to “aim for the left tower.,” but he goes too right and lands in the front of the right-hand green bunker. He’ll have some space to play with, but he’s not made it easy for himself.
Meanwhile, Fowler misses his par putt on the 10th and goes back to +10. He’s got some tough holes to come.
Schauffele moves to joint second, two behind Fowler who gets into a spot of trouble
Schauffele on the 8th. He holds his birdie putt to move to -9, joint with the clubhouse leader Clark.
Meanwhile, Fowler finds the right-hand fairway bunker on the 10th, uncharacteristic there. He has to thump out, leaving him with his approach. A potential bogey here. He’s back in play, but he’s a great wedge player. He’s got to flatten this out, maybe aim it a little right.
Good shot onto the green, which leaves him with an uphill putt. He’s given himself a decent opportunity to recover par.
Fowler is through the turn on -3, -11 for the tournament
It’s an uphill 15-footer on the 9th. He reads it well, but pulls up half a revolution short. Agonisingly close there. He finishes the front nine three-under par, giving him a two-shot lead overall (-11).
Jason Day, his playing partner, with birdies on eight and nine to go to +4 and stay in contention for the cut.
Fowler is back to -11
He’s birdied the par-five 8th, his 5th of the round.
He’s still only parred one hole today – the 5th – after bogeys on four and seven.
The trickier back nine to come – although yesterday, he still bagged five birdies (and two bogeys) after an error-free front nine.
His playing partner Rose his just eagled it, chipping magnificently from the right side of the green and taking him to +4. Still some work to do, but the 2013 champion could still make the cut, which is projected to be at +2.
Trouble for Hovland
Hovland has overshot with his approach shot on the 284-yard par-three 7th. He’s gone off the back through the short Bermuda grass.
He pulls out his putter to take on the uphill putt, but comes up short, only as far as the fringe of the green.
Meanwhile, Fowler takes on his approach shot the 8th. He makes 180 out the rough, 40 yards from the hole. Very safe, avoiding the hanging lies.
It’s drying up out there, changing the complexion of this competition
Bryson (-4) with a good putt on the green of the 8th, but it lips all around the outside and comes back out. It’s one of those. He’s going into the tougher back-nine now.
The course is drying out significantly now, the greens are getting a lot quicker and it’ll be especially tough for those who are going into the statistically harder back-nine. Rickie (-10) is one of these.
Matt Fitzpatrick (+1) is the first defending champion to make an ace at the US Open
As soon as I hit it I thought that it got a good chance of going close anyway. Dead center. My hand was a bit sore afterward, I’ll be honest, after all the high fiving.
I feel like if I can get the driver going I can shoot a really good score. But could not drive it worse at the minute.
Shane Lowry (+2) is going steady, on course to make the cut
He’s eight holes through and parred every one so far. This his third shot on the 605-yard par-five 14th:
Rahm (-2) approaches the 6th green
Rahm on the 6th, laying up with a big skip from the back of the green and putting him within a few feet of the hole. If he drops that in – which looks likely – he’ll move to -3.
The day one co-leader is still looking to open his account for the day
Schauffele (-8) is still looking to get things up and-running, missing his four-yard birdie shout on the 5th. Very steady so far, pars in all five opening holes.
Homa’s (-1) off on the 15th, his 6th. Not his best drive, crooked and landing a whisker off the right-hand green rough, but he gets a lucky break, the backspin giving him an uphill putt.
Fowler makes birdie on the 6th
His hot putting continues and he’s back to -11, two shots clear of clubhouse leader Wyndham Clark.
He looks as good as we’ve seen him, the way he’s putting together this performance.
Scheffler (-3) wayward off the tee of the 14th
Scheffler’s gone miles left from the tee box of the 14th (his 5th).
Fowler on the 6th, meanwhile, has hit the back of the green with his approach, controlling the spin delicately for it to return and stop within 10 feet of the hole. There’ll be another birdie shout here.
A par for Fowler on five
He remains in the lead on -10. Onto the 6th now with the split fairway, a range of options here, but it’s completely blind from the tee box. Most players have been conservative and just hit their favourite yardage, laying up.
DeChambeau drops a shot on the 6th after being dragged back by the barranca. He tried to go for it and was stung.
Cameron Smith (-4) speaks with Sky Sports
The firmer and faster this place plays, the better I think it plays into the Aussies’ hands.
I think we just need a little bit more wind, a bit more sun and we’re pretty much there.
We got a little bit softer greens this morning which is nice, and some nice rolling surfaces too.
As it stands: the leaderboard
-10: R Fowler (4)
-9: W Clark (F)
-8: R McIlroy (F), X Schauffele (3)
-7: H English (F)
-6: D Johnson (F), M W Lee (F)
DeChambeau dealing with the barranca
DeChambeau tries to get out of the barranca to the left of the green on the 6th, but is denied on his first attempt.
He lands one-yard off the front side of the green – where there is thick rough.
His third shot pops up and dribbles onto the green, four yards past the hole. He might yet rescue this par four.
Fowler’s first drop of the day
The wayward tee shot on the 4th left him all the work to do. He’s on the green in two and two-putts. Back to -10.
Bryson’s (-6) given himself some work on the 6th
He pulls out the fairway wood. He’s got 294 to the hole. “Nooooo, crap!” he exclaims as he watches it leave his clubhead.
That’s not going to be very fun to play. He’s in the very thick grass which guards the left side of the green.
Fowler on the 4th
Fowler has the bunker ahead of him out of this rough. He pings it up, and leaves it below the hole, putting the brakes on as it drops and leaving him about 15 feet on. The par is achievable, but he might drop a shot here.
Fowler’s now off on the 4th – the first glimmer of an error
He tries a draw from the right-to-left, but he finds the barranca on the right – although the lie looks ok. He has a rake in the way which he’ll be able to move when he gets down there. This will be the end of his birdie run.
Off goes Day (+5), and he lands on that lower tongue of fairway on the front-left of the green.
Meanwhile, Schauffele with a birdie shout on three, a 30-footer. He gets to within a couple of feet of the hole.
Scheffler out the bunker
Scheffler from the bunker on the 12th.
It’s a lovely sound off the club, a nice thump into the sand which sees the ball jump up and move to within a couple of feet of the hole.
Meanwhile, there’s currently a 13-minute wait for Fowler, Day and Rose on the tee of the 4th.
Rory McIlroy (-8) speaks with Sky Sports after his 67
I think the scoring discrepancy from the front nine to the back nine is pretty big this week.
It was nice to finish off the round properly today and put me right into the mix for the weekend.
Put the ball in play off the tee. I haven’t been hitting a tonne of drivers. Putting the ball in the fairway off the tee, and from there you can have some scoring opportunities.
Three-in-a-row for Fowler now
He moves to -11, two shots clear at the top. An absolutely terrific start for him. He’s making this look easy.
Eagle for Jon Rahm on the 1st
An absolute monster putt from off the green, off the front-right, moving the reigning Masters and 2021 US Open champion to -3. Take a look at this:
As I post that, Fowler has just got his second birdie in two
He is the first man to move to double digits – and is looking very good for it. He pulls away from clubhouse leader Wyndham Clark.
McIlroy goes into the clubhouse on 67
He moves to -8 for the tournament, one off the current lead after almost bagging a hole-in-one on the 9th (his 18th).
Six birdies on that back nine after three bogeys on the front. Steadying the ship.
Min Woo Lee moves to -6
He posts a round of 65, putting him right in contention for moving day.
Two birdies on the first three holes for DeChambeau as he moves to -5 after three holes played.
Meanwhile, Fowler bags his birdie on the first, going to -9 and going into the joint lead. And he’s on the green in two on the second, a few yards from the hole.
Off go Schauffele (-8), Hovland (-1) and Rahm (-1)
Schauffele scored a bogey-free round yesterday. “Fore left,” he shouts as it leaves his club, cannoning down the left, skipping under punters’ feet and into the rough short of the fairway bunker.
Hovland draws and overcooks it, sending it into the left-hand fairway bunker.
Rahm makes the fairway, very tidy that.
Clubhouse leader Wyndham Clark speaks with Sky Sports
It’s great, I’ve been playing a lot of good golf.
I feel good about my game, I’m looking forward to the weekend. I made a lot of cuts this year, I’ve been in contention a lot.
When I’m here at the biggest stage, it’s starting to feel alot more comfortable and normal.
It’s starting to get firmer out there. It’s definitely getting tougher. I’m not sure anybody’s going to get a -8 today.
Rory moves to -7
A birdie on the 8th (his 17th) takes him up to joint fourth with English, two shots off the clubhouse leader.
Fowler with a controlled shot out the bunker on the 1st
He really had to come down steep on this, jab it out and get it high to get over the native high grass.
Executed well, rolling a few feet past the hole.
Fowler’s approach on the 1st
Fowler has a good go, right on line in his second shot on the first.
He lands in the front bunker, but it takes a nice kick back and he’ll have a decent lie to go at it from there.
Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Jason Day are off
Rose (+6) and Fowler (-8) go down the middle, but Day (+3) winces as the ball takes flight and his ball drops into the left-hand fairway bunker.
Dustin Johnson (-6) speaks with Sky Sports after finishing his round
Obviously got off to a wonderful start there with a quad on two.
I know I’m swinging well. Had to just focus, had a lot of holes left.
Be aggressive when you can. I just played really solid after number two, all the way into the house.
I’ve made bad numbers before. Just regroup a little bit. I know I’m swinging really well.
He goes into the weekend three shots off the current lead.
Koepka (-2) on the 7th (his 16h), he’s in the rough to the front-left of the green. He needs to hug the fringe here.
But it just came out hot on him and he’s rolled a few yards past the hole.
Harris English speaks about his round with Sky Sports
The front nine is obviously playing easier, the wind isn’t really up today, but the pin positions are a bit tougher.
Min Woo Lee’s just bagged another birdie
It’s his fifth of the round, coming on the 555-yard par-four 16th. He played it straight on. No messing around.
He joins Dustin Johnson, Sam Bennett and Brian Harman in tied sixth on -5.
One of the shots of the day from Cam Smith here
Wyndham Clark takes the solo lead once again (-9)
He took his time to line it up on the 8th green, but once he got over the ball he didn’t waste a second. Confidently done. One hole left for him to play.
-8: R Fowler, X Schauffele, W Clark
-7: H English
-6: R McIlroy, S Bennett
-5: D Johnson, B Harman
Rory moves to -6, two shots off the lead
McIlroy looks like he overhits his approach shot on the 6th… but it hits the back of the green and rolls back towards hole, leaving him with a three-yard birdie-putt chance.
Meanwhile English has attacked the hole on the 18th, he’s at -7 now, one off the lead.
And McIlroy sinks the birdie; he goes back to -6.
Sam Bennett is (-6) on the charge
His third birdie – on the par-four 6th (his 15th) – moves him up just two shots behind the three-way lead.
Rory’s got a clear shot on the hole on his second shot on the 5th
He’s 200 to it, although the ball is probably an inch below his feet.
Not bad at all. He lands about 25-feet from the hole. Great control of the distance, he edged down the shaft with the longer club, I think employing the six-iron for the task.
McIlroy tees off on the 5th, his 14th
He’s pulled out his three-wood, it looks like he wants to try to turn it right-to-left.
His ball rolls just over the brow of the hill – it’ll be a downhill lie for his second.
DJ back to -5 on with a birdie on 15
He’s recovered well after that scorecard ruining quadruple bogey on the 2nd.
Sam Bennett is quietly enjoying another convincing round
The newly-turned pro has made two birdies today on an unblemished scorecard and he’s through 14. He’s tied fifth on -5, three off the lead.
Clark fluffs his birdie putt on the 5th (his 14th)
That would’ve put him back into the outright lead.
Rory’s found the barranca on the 4th
He hit his six-iron off the tee, but could’ve done with clubbing up.
He lands on the fringe of the front of the green, but it’s on a slope and he doesn’t have enough momentum to roll on, sending his ball backwards and into the barranca.
Cracking tee shot from Spieth on the 11th
Spieth (+1) makes the birdie, but the 2015 champion undoes his hard work with a bogey on the 13th.
Tiger Woods will not play in the Open at Royal Liverpool next month
He will miss this year’s Open as he continues to recover from the ankle surgery he had in April.
The 15-time major champion underwent fusion surgery on a bone in his ankle to address post-traumatic arthritis from a previous talus bone fracture days after he withdrew from the Masters.
Rory (-5) battles back
Birdie for Rory on the 3rd (his 12th), holding his nerve in the 10-footer. Two birdies on the back-nine now after three bogeys on the front.
He did well on this first nine yesterday – picking five birdies. Can he continue this form today? He’s now just three behind the leaders.
Wide fairways here
They’re averaging 43 yards in width. The 18th is 62 yards wide.
But if you don’t hit them, you’re in real trouble with the barranca and Bermuda grass to contend with. McIlroy came a cropper on the 18th yesterday, finding the rough on the left-edge of the green which he struggled to get his ball out of, dropping a shot (the only blemish on his scorecard).
McIlroy’s made the green in reg on the 2nd
The hole’s in a difficult position today, but he’s got a birdie shout with an eight-yarder.
It’s uphill, but he doesn’t give it enough. Pulls up to the left of the pin. He’ll tap that in and go again to try to claw back the four shots on the leaders.
Koepka (e) rescues his par with a long putt.
Leader Wyndham Clark drops a shot
He’s missed his par put on the 4th (his 13th). Back to a three-way tie at the top (-8), finding company with Fowler and Schauffele who tee off in a couple of hours.
A reminder of the hole locations today if you’re just tuning in
McIlroy back to -4
He birdies the 1st (his 10th), making the three-yarder – he’s been missing a few of those today.
Selected tee times later on (times in BST)
9:10pm: Bryson DeChambeau (-3), Tyrrell Hatton (+4), Francesco Molinari (+2)
9:32pm: Jason Day (+3), Rickie Fowler (-8), Justin Rose (+6).
9:43pm: Max Homa (-2), Collin Morikawa (+1), Scottie Scheffler (-3).
9:54pm: Viktor Hovland (-1), Jon Rahm (-1), Xander Schauffele (-8).
We’ll have coverage all the way to the end of the round, which is expected to finish at 3am.
The cut mark
Is currently looking like it’ll be at +2.
McIlroy (-3) drops another shot
McIlroy certainly hasn’t been able to replicate his form from yesterday as he drops another shot to move back to three-under-par. He is still in the top 10 on the leaderboard but he is now six shots behind leader Wyndham Clark.
Fitzpatrick (E) birdies
It has been a very up-and-down day for defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick as he now birdies the 18th to reach the turn one-under for the day and even par for the tournament.
Finau (-5) continues to rise
Tony Finau is continuing his rise up the leaderboard with another birdie at eight to move to five-under-par
Fitzpatrick (+1) double bogeys
It was only a few holes ago that we were waxing-lyrical about Matt Fitzpatrick’s hole-in-one. However he has now lost those two shots after a double bogey on 17. He drops back to one-over-par
Nice achievement for Fitzpatrick
Another missed opportunity for McIlroy
Not long ago McIlroy had a great chance for birdie that he spurned. Well you can now make that two missed chances as another birdie putt is agonisingly close to going in but does not drop. He stays at -4.
Nice stuff from Harrington
Clark (-9) in the lead at the turn
It is another good day for Wyndham Clark who reaches the turn in the outright lead on nine-under-par, one shot clear. He made the turn in 32 and he has completed the perceived harder half of the course.
Finau rising up the leaderboard
One man who is sneaking up the leaderboard today is Tony Finau. He is four-under-par for the tournament in a tie for fourth and he is -2 for the day.
McIlroy misses birdie chance
At 15, Rory McIlroy misses a golden opportunity inside 10 feet for birdie so he stays at -4. He is through six holes today as he started on the 10th.
What a shot!
I think it is safe to say Matt Fitzpatrick was pretty happy with that one!
Disaster for DJ earlier in his second round
If you wanted to see how much trouble DJ got in earlier, have a watch here!
And here is that ace from the defending champion!
Fitzpatrick (-1) hole-in-one
A great moment for the defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick as he gets a hole-in-one on the 15th (his sixth hole of the day). The 51st hole-in-one in US Open history. That is his 1st PGA Tour career ace.
Clark (-9) into the outright lead
Wyndham Clark sinks a long putt to move to nine-under-par and he takes the outright lead, one shot ahead of Fowler and Schauffele who are yet to tee of for their second rounds.
Hoffman rising up the leaderboard
McIlroy drops back to -4 again
McIlroy is in trouble off the tee again on 13 and it results in him dropping a shot to -4.
Back-to-back birdies for Smith (-2)
Open champion Cameron Smith is on a bit of a charge with successive birdies to take him to two-under-par.
Clark (-8) into the share of the lead
On 14, Wyndham Clark has just managed a brilliant up and down for birdie to join the leaders on eight-under-par. Brilliant play by Clark.
McIlroy (-5) responds with birdie
After just dropping a shot, McIlroy sinks a brilliant left-to-right long-range putt to move back to five-under-par.
DJ up to -3
It’s how you bounce back from adversity and Johnson has done just that. After the horrendous quadruple bogey, he gets a birdie on the next hole to move to three-under-par.
McIlroy drops to -4
McIlroy cannot sink that putt and he drops his first shot of the day. He is now on four-under-par.
McIlroy in trouble off the tee
On his second hole of the day (the 11th) McIlroy’s tee shot goes right and he is left with an awful lie right next to a bunker. His second shot is a good effort from where he was but he has got work to do to save par.
DJ quadruple bogey
Absolute disaster for Johnson. A hole full of terrible shots results in a quadruple bogey. He drops from six-under to two-under-par
McIlroy (-5) misses birdie putt but Koepka (E) takes his
McIlroy has a chance on his first hole of the day (the 10th) to make birdie but that putt was never going in. He stays at -5. Koepka does sink his birdie putt and moves to even par.
DJ in trouble
Johnson’s tee shot at the second misses the fairway to the left. From the rough, DJ gets himself into more trouble with his second shot where he is going to have to take a drop. It looks very likely he will drop at least one shot here. From the drop his next shot overshoots the green and he is going to drop multiple shots.
Koepka and McIlroy set up birdie chances
Having teed off on the 10th hole, Koepka’s second is roughly 117 yards away and his iron is right on the money. Good opportunity for a birdie. McIlroy follows that up from the same distance with a good shot of his own. Birdie putt to come, McIlroy’s will be from slightly further away.
We all know how that feels!
Mickelson back to -1
After bogeying the first, Mickelson responds with a birdie on three to return to one-under-par
McIlroy (-5) and Koepka (+1) tee off
Big group are teeing off now as McIlroy, Koepka and Matsuyama get their second rounds underway. 2017 and 2018 US Open champion Koepka and 2011 champion McIlroy drill their opening tee shots down the fairway. Former Masters champion Matsuyama also hits his tee shot onto the fairway
DJ stays at -6
Johnson has a birdie on the first green for birdie but he cannot sink it. He remains at six-under-par and two shots behind the leaders.
Niemann to -2
Mickelson stays at even par
Mickelson looks to get back to -1, but his long-range putt just misses the hole. The US Open is still the only major he has not won. He has however finished runner-up in this tournament six times.
DJ tees off
The 2016 US Open champion Dustin Johnson is getting his second round underway. His tee shot misses the fairway to the right and ends up in the rough. Remember DJ starts his second round on six-under-par, two shots off the lead.
Clark (-7) one shot off the lead
Clark does birdie his first hole of his second round to move to seven-under-par and is now just one shot behind the leaders. Great start for the world number 32.
Longest putt so far at the 2023 US Open
Brent Grant, who is currently at +2, has just sunk this huge putt! A mere 61 feet!
Clark (-6) underway
Wyndham Clark, who is currently world number 32 and in a tie for third on six-under-par, has just teed off and played a couple of lovely shots to put himself in contention for a birdie to move to -7.
Mickelson in trouble at the first
On the par five first, Mickelson finds the bunkers. His putt for par drifts wide of the hole so it will be a bogey on the opening hole for the American. He drops back to even par.
Fowler’s return to a former coach
Rickie Fowler, who has a share of the lead after round one, has returned to former coach Butch Harmon and he sung his praises after his round yesterday.
“Butch is great, just his voice and having him in your corner. He has been around and seen a lot and been around so many great players. He’s coached so many guys to reach, I would say, their potential. I feel like he’s a very good golf and life coach.
“He can be technical and mechanical if needed, but he understands the playing and the mental side. Just tells you something to give you a little confidence to go out there and just go play golf and keep it simple. That’s been one of the big things has been me getting back to playing golf.”
Rickie Fowler is the only player in US Open history with two rounds of seven-under or better (2017, Round 1). His 10 birdies yesterday also ties the most in a round in US Open history (Justin Thomas, 2017 Round 3).
Between 2017 and 2022, Rory McIlroy’s scoring average in the opening round of majors was 72.45 and a combined +27. Since the 2022 Masters, he is a combined -18 in opening rounds of majors, with a scoring average of 67.67.
Sky Sports’ Wayne Riley on McIlroy’s hopes this weekend
“Slipping under the radar is great for Rory McIlroy. He won his US Open [in 2011] by eight shots! Here we’ve got wide fairways and who would you want to drive it off the tee with wide fairways? It’s McIlroy.
“Yesterday he was unbelievable. I really rate his chances – if he can drive it like the way he did yesterday. Look out everyone else.”
Sky Sports’ Wayne Riley on the low scoring yesterday
“I don’t know whether I like it or not. It’s a US Open and a US Open comes with a huge reputation. That was knocked down yesterday. Shooting two eight-under-pars is unheard of.
“You come to a US Open and you expect a stern test to say the least. It’s the toughest set ups out for the four major championships – usually. I didn’t expect that.”
DJ amongst the early frontrunners
In a tie for third on six-under-par is Dustin Johnson. He finds himself just a couple of shots off the lead and he admitted after his round yesterday that the course played really well.
“The golf course is in perfect condition. I really like it. You just have to drive it well or you have no chance.
“The course was set up really nicely. I would imagine the next few days you’re going to see the golf course set up as hard as they want to.”
Positive start for McIlroy
For a notoriously slow starter in the majors, Rory McIlroy’s 65 represents a huge improvement for the Northern Irishman as he looks to end his nine-year wait for a fifth major.
McIlroy made five front-nine birdies, his best effort in majors, on the back of some explosive driving off the tee.
And he played solid golf on the back nine, adding one more birdie before making his only mistake at the 18th – playing an air shot from the greenside rough before making an 11-foot putt to drop just one shot.
Notable early tee times
Starting on hole one (all times BST)
15:29 P Mickelson (US), P Harrington (Ire), K Bradley (US)
16:02 S Burns (US), D Johnson (US), K Mitchell (US)
16:13 T Finau (US), J Spieth (US), P Cantlay (US)
Starting on hole 10
16:02 C Smith (Aus), S Bennett (US), M Fitzpatrick (Eng)
16:13 B Horschel (US), C Kirk (US), B Harman (US)
16:24 B Koepka (US), H Matsuyama (Jpn), R McIlroy (NI)
Pin locations for round two
Rickie Fowler’s rollercoaster ride
Fowler currently holds a share of the lead after round one on -8. It’s been quite a journey for Fowler, who is one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour. He went from a career-high fourth in the world ranking in 2016 all the way down to 173rd just a year ago.
The 34-year-old is one of just four players in history with top-five finishes in all four majors in one season. He failed to qualify for the past two US Opens but marked his return in some style.
Fowler posted top-five finishes in all four majors in 2014 and then claimed two victories on the PGA Tour the following year, helping him reach a career-high of world No 4, then added five more major top-10s between 2017 and 2019 before his game started to decline.
The most recent of his five PGA Tour titles came at the 2019 WM Phoenix Open, with Fowler sliding down the world rankings after inconsistency with his ball-striking in the seasons immediately following golf’s Covid-19-enforced shutdown in 2020.
Fowler failed to qualify for three of the four majors last season, including the US Open after spending the opening day of last year’s contest waiting on the range as an alternate, with a drop to world No 185 one of the reasons behind a return to former coach Butch Harmon.
Welcome to Day Two
The thick rough and trademark red flags were there, but in many respects Thursday at the Los Angeles Country Club felt distinctly unlike a US Open.
Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele both shot eight-under par rounds of 62 at the quirky and varied venue, with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson also going low at five and six-under respectively.
Scottie Scheffler is lurking with intent after a three-under 67, and looked more at ease on the greens after his putting problems at Memorial where his ball-striking was imperious. If the World No 1 can match up the two facets of his game, he could still be the player to beat this weekend.
McIlroy’s long game looked in good order on Thursday, only undone by an air-shot from the rough on the 18th which cost him a closing bogey. Much has been made of McIlroy’s relative struggles of late, especially with his wedges, but he went into Sunday at his last two tournaments with a chance to win. Without a major since the 2014 US PGA Championship, McIlroy’s game is clearly not too far away.
Co-leader Schauffele expects the USGA to react to the low scoring.
“It’s not really what you expect playing a US Open, but monkey see, monkey do,” Olympic champion Schauffele said.
“I was just chasing Rickie up the leaderboard. Glad he was just in front of me. [But] it’s just Thursday. It’s literally just the first day of a tournament. It’s a good start. You just wait until this place firms up. It’s going to be nasty.”
Schauffele has a stack of top five finishes at majors on his CV but is yet to breakthrough with a victory, and this tournament in his native California always looked a presentable opportunity. Schauffele and Fowler’s rounds were the lowest-ever score at a US Open, with Tommy Fleetwood making the most recent of the six previous 63s in the final round in 2018.