Golf: Johnson stretches lead, Woods likely to miss cut at US Open

Tiger Woods of the United States looks on from the on the fifth green during the second round of the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 15, 2018 in Southampton, New York.
Tiger Woods of the United States looks on from the on the fifth green during the second round of the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 15, 2018 in Southampton, New York. PHOTO: AFP

SOUTHAMPTON (AFP) – World number one Dustin Johnson fired a three-under-par 67 on Friday (June 15) to build a three-stroke lead midway through the second round of the US Open, where Tiger Woods was staring at a missed cut. 

Shinnecock Hills presented a different face on Friday as Thursday’s challenging wind gave way to morning mist.  Low scores still proved elusive, but Johnson again steered a steady course. 

When he arrived in the clubhouse with a four-under total of 136, the only other player under par for the tournament was England’s Ian Poulter. Poulter however soon moved to level par after bogeying the opening hole of his second round. 

Johnson’s nearest rivals in the clubhouse were England’s Tommy Fleetwood – who posted an impressive four-under-par 66 – and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who joined Fleetwood on one-over 141 with an even par 70.  

Woods, looking for a round in the 60s to keep him alive for the weekend after his opening 78, settled for a two-over-par 72.  Woods finished strong, with birdies at his last two holes, but at 10-over-par 150 he looked unlikely to make the halfway cut. 

“I don’t think you can be too happy and too excited about 10 over par,” he said. 

For the second straight day, the par-four first proved Woods’s undoing. He took triple bogey there on Thursday, and a double bogey on Friday.  In the fairway off the tee, Woods found deep, rain-soaked rough with his second shot. His third shot rolled through the green and his pitch left him 14 feet, from where he two-putted. 

Playing partner Johnson made his only bogey of the day at the first, unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker.  But after two birdies in his first nine holes, Johnson would add two more coming in, including a 45-foot putt at the par-three seventh, that took its time getting to the hole then teetered in to a massive roar from the crowd. 

Russell Henley, who shared the overnight lead with Johnson, Poulter and Scott Piercy at one-under, birdied two of his first three holes.  Still two-under for the tournament and one back after a bogey at 14 – his fifth of the day, Henley ran into real trouble at the par-four third, where his tee shot was buried under long, rain-soaked rough.

He whiffed on his first effort to hit out on the way to a triple bogey seven. 

“Couldn’t see my ball,” said Henley, who carded a 73 for two-over 142. “I could only see it if I kind of ducked down to the right. Maybe I should have practiced that shot more.”

Clouds clearing

Henley said the morning rain – which briefly intensified to the accompaniment of gusty winds – made things difficult for a spell. 

The clouds had cleared, however, as some of the game’s biggest names set off trying to salvage their weeks.  As Johnson established himself as the man to beat on Thursday, the rest of the world’s top-10 ranked players combined to shoot 52-over par. 

Fourth ranked Jordan Spieth fired a first-round 78. Northern Ireland’s world No. 10 Rory McIlroy was facing an uphill battle to make the cut after opening with a 10-over 80.  The two played alongside five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, whose latest bid for a US Open title that would give him a career Grand Slam was dealt a body blow as he posted a first-round 77. 

The marquee trio that fizzed on Thursday teed off at 1:47 p.m. (1747 GMT) in search of better things.