Golf: Nearly men threaten at US Open

Lee Westwood reacts on the third green during the continuation of the second round of the US Open on June 18, 2016.
Lee Westwood reacts on the third green during the continuation of the second round of the US Open on June 18, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

OAKMONT, United States (AFP) - Three of the best players never to have won a major - Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood - were crowding the top of the leaderboard as the delayed second round of the US Open unfolded at Oakmont on Saturday.

Johnson was the joint overnight leader at four-under after completing his 36 holes just in time before the fading light stopped play late Friday.

Garcia had a similar late show and he stood alongside American Scott Piercy at two-under.

A stroke further back came Americans Daniel Summerhays, and Jim Furyk as well as England's Andy Sullivan.

Westwood then took over the spotlight Saturday as he moved to the front with two birdies in the first five holes of his second round to get to five-under, although a bogey at the sixth set him back.

The Englishman has finished inside the top three at the Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the PGA Championship, but a major title win has proved beyond him and at 43 time is running out fast.

Johnson has had several close calls at Grand Slam tournaments, notably three-putting the 72nd hole at last year's US Open to hand the win to Jordan Spieth.

Garcia has come agonisingly close several times at the British Open and the PGA Championship.

While Westwood was heading in the right direction, the man he trailed by one stroke for the first-round lead - world number 624 Andrew Landry - was going the other way.

He opened solidly enough, but two bogeys and a double-bogey from the sixth took the wind out of his sails.

Bubba Watson stayed firmly in contention, an early birdie moving him to one-under, level with Australia's Marc Leishman and Russell Knox of Scotland who were playing the front nine.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, was making some amends for a slipshod opening round of 77 with three birdies in his first five holes.

Defending champion Spieth opened with a bogey but got that back at he next hole to stay at two over.

World number one Jason Day was among those to complete their second rounds early on, a 69 ensuring he would make the cut, but at five-over leaving him with a lot to do if he is to add the US Open crown to the PGA Championship he won last year.

He could do with some help from the weather he said.

"I'm hoping that it gets really hot today and starts baking everything out and then hopefully plays hard for everyone, and hopefully I can claw my way back into this tournament." Others like Furyk, who rounded off a 68 at the ninth hole, said they were preparing for another long day.

"I'm heading back home. I've got a family and kids. Spend time with the family really, just get away. If I could get a nap in, that would be great. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night," he said.

Adam Scott, who is handily placed on even par after 36 holes said that he would be happy to stay at that mark through the weekend believing that the Oakmont greens would bare their teeth.

"It's going to be around even," he predicted of the winning score. "I mean we will see fast greens this afternoon, but we're going to see some crazy ones tomorrow." Six-time runner-up Phil Mickelson faced an agonising wait to see if he would make the cut as he was smack on the projected mark of seven-over.

"We still have 36 holes left - hopefully. Hopefully, I do (make the cut). You never know. There's some birdie opportunities out there. I feel like I'm playing well enough to do it, but I just need a chance right now," he said.

Once the second round is completed those that make the cut will proceed to the third round with the aim of finally getting back on schedule by the end of the day.