Golf heavyweights miss US Open cut

Hope Soto
June 18, 2017

A congested leaderboard and the potential for thunderstorms meant an enthralling day was in prospect at Erin Hills as the final groups prepared to go out in round three of the U.S. Open.

Not since the so-called "Massacre of Winged Foot" of 1974 has there been such a logjam atop the leader board, but this latest edition of the old championship is more bunched that at any time with 32 players within five shots of the lead.

Rickie Fowler failed to capitalize on the great conditions, shooting a 73 that kept him on the first page of the leaderboard but left him in a three-way tie for second place with Jamie Lovemark and JB Holmes.

Thomas, decked out in fluorescent pink trousers, was on the move quickly with a birdie-birdie start and had an even hotter finish to his front nine, carding birdies on four-of-five closing holes, including the last three to move to seven-under. "The course sets up very well for me off the tee".

"It was definitely a lot more like a US Open today than yesterday the greens were a little quicker again", Leishman said. "The same plan, and get on the fairway, and be aggressive as you can, and take your par".

"It's all good holing the putts on the practice green, but it's a different kettle of fish when you get out on the course and have to read slope, read downhill, uphill into the green, side green".

"You won't get a better day for scoring", Johnson said wistfully during the long walk to sign his card. Nobody's going to make nine birdies out there. If you get four or five, that's pretty good.

Also missing the weekend were No. 2 Rory McIlroy and No. 3 Jason Day, who played together for the first two rounds to disastrous results.

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The 32-year-old American star had arrived at Erin Hills brimming with confidence, buoyed by the birth on Monday of his second son, and ready to tear into a course suited to his big-hitting game.

"It is always cool to be part of some sort of history in golf", Fowler said.

"I couldn't get comfortable over the putter". Some of it nearly takes the bombers out of it. PGA Tour rookie Xander Schauffele didn't make a bogey at Erin Hills until his 27th hole, had his hiccup with a double bogey on the par-3 13th hole but still managed a 73. Not everyone can take advantage.

Westwood's 69 was just the third time the former world number one has broken 70 in the first round of the US Open, with his lowest score of 67 coming previous year. Unlikely as it seems, that was the last major he played on the weekend.

Erin Hills was drenched by almost an inch of rain overnight, but many of those out early on Saturday still found scoring to be hard. "Every time you have a hard golf course, they'll jump out at the beginning, and Rickie (Fowler) had that great run yesterday, and he's seeing 7 (under par)".

The leading South Africans are two-time US Open champion Ernie Els and Thomas Aiken, who are tied for 24th at 2-under-par.

McIlroy worked with his coach Michael Bannon on making a smoother transition from the top of his backswing and although he was three over par after 12 holes, birdies on the fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth ended the week on a high. "As of right now, I'm one shot back ... but just more so for the confidence going into tomorrow".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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