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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Matt Cooper and David Tindall

US Open 2023: Fowler leads at halfway but McIlroy in hot pursuit – as it happened

Rickie Fowler hits a drive in the second round of the 2023 US Open
Fowler eyeing the halfway lead. Photograph: Kiyoshi Mio/USA Today Sports

Thanks for reading. The blog will return at 6pm BST Saturday for what promises to be a thrilling third round at LA Country Club. Good night!


36-hole leaderboard

Here’s the top 10 at halfway. A tantalising prospect for the weekend ahead and the expectation, too, that the course will play in fiery fashion, while the USGA will put the pins in fiendish positions.

-10: R Fowler (F)
-9: W Clark (F)
-8: R McIlroy (F), X Schauffele (F)
-7: H English (F)
-6: D Johnson (F), M W Lee (F),
-5: S Bennett (F), S Scheffler (F)
-4: C Smith (F)


Schauffele has given himself the chance to get to within two shots of Fowler. He’s arrested the flow of bogeys (three in a row from the 13th) and has 12-feet for back-to-back birdies to close.

It drops! He stuck in there and joins Rory McIlroy on 8-under.

Meanwhile, Jon Rahm only just makes it into the weekend. His increasingly bad tempered 73 has left him on +2 for the week.

Mr 50%.

The cut is set for +2. Notable names missing it include: +3 Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth. +4 Justin Rose, Corey Conners, Max Homa. +5 Adam Scott. +9 Jason Day. +14 Justin Thomas.

Rickie Fowler on his performance this week: “There’s been a lot happen in the last three years. There’s been a lot of going back and reminding myself what I’ve got and can do. There’s also been a lot of offense the first two days. But I’ll need to stay disciplined and that’s been a big part of my form the last six months.”

Jon Rahm is ailing. He opened his round with that thrilling eagle at the 1st but since then he’s added just one birdie and stumbled with four bogeys. He also faces a tricky par putt at the 17th and has just bellowed a loud expletive. He then missed the putt so that’s five bogeys. He’s +1 for the week and in a tie for 39th.

Rickie Fowler claims the halfway lead

Just a par at 18 (only his fourth of the second round) for Fowler. Last pre-weekend question: how close can Schauffele and Scheffler get to him?

-10: R Fowler (F)
-9: W Clark (F)
-8: R McIlroy (F)
-7: H English (F)
-6: D Johnson (F), MW Lee (F), X Schauffele (16)
-5: S Bennett (F), S Scheffler (17)


Scottie Scheffler is sneaking up behind the leaders. His second nine is the easier front nine and he’s so far made three birdies and five pars with only the 9th to play. That makes him -2 for the day and -5 for the week in a share of eighth.

Rickie Fowler’s approach to the 18th finds the putting surface, 26-feet from the flag. He needs par to tie Martin Kaymer’s record 36-hole low total of 130.

Fowler hits the top … again! His putter is deadly and he ticks the 17th. He’s already made 18 birdies this week with his 36th hole to come.

The 15th hole. Just 115-yards today and it’s seen everything from a hole in one (see below) to 22 bogeys and four double bogeys or worse.

Ouch. That tiny 115-yard par-three 15th has tripped up Xander Schauffele. A third consecutive bogey for him and now he has three long and difficult par-fours to come. He’s -6 for the week and three back of the lead.

But for how long? Fowler has hit a wonderful approach to 8-feet at 17.

A trio of Englishmen have been digging deep. Tommy Fleetwood played his last five holes of his second round in -1 to sneak inside the cut line on +2 for the week.

Tyrrell Hatton is -3 through 17 and in a tie for 40th on +1 – he, too, was the wrong side of the cut line before an improved effort today.

Justin Rose still has much to do but he is also -3 for the day through 16 and +3 for the week. He needs to find one more par breaker to join his compatriots in playing at the weekend.

Trouble at the top. Schauffele has made back-to-back bogeys to fall back to -7 and Fowler’s lack of interest in pars continues: he’s made a bogey at the 16th and returns to a share of top spot with Clark.

Ouch. Justin Thomas will soon be signing for an 81. Currently, only two players are set to finish below him this week. His victory in last year’s PGA Championship must be feeling an awfully long time ago.

“No one wants me to win another major more than I do,” said Rory McIlroy after his round today. Take a read of Ewan Murray’s report of it.

115-yards – no bother for Fowler. Here’s that birdie he just made at the 15th.

Fowler converts. It’s his 17th birdie of the week and he’s only played 33 holes! He’s also made just three pars in today’s round through 15 holes. Updated top end of the leaderboard positions:

-10: R Fowler (15)
-9: W Clark (F)
-8: R McIlroy (F), X Schauffele (13

Change at the top. Schauffele makes bogey at the 13th to drop one back of the lead and, at the same time, Fowler hits his tee shot at the 115-yard par-three 15th to 8-feet.

Trends says what Fowler and Schauffele achieve in the next 90 minutes can have a big impact at the weekend. There are currently seven golfers within three shots of the lead – if Fowler and/or Schauffele go deeper they can take two or three out of that three shot zone.

Fowler and Schauffele have played early/late but look at this: they’ve been scoring against the grain, with their 62s yesterday and continued presence at the top end of the leaderboard. Scoring against par:


Dave’s favourite Barclay Brown is fighting hard to make the cut. His floppy hat and Ealing Films-like name are what attracted Dave’s attention but the English amateur can play, too. He’s +2 for the event with seven holes of the (easier) front nine to go. He’s a golf scholar at Stanford University so has a certain comfort level playing in California.


Im Sungjae has a different problem to Lowry. The Korean loves the Masters with two top 10s in four starts there but the other three majors? Just one top 20 in 11 appearances. It’s hard to fathom but he’s not changing the record book this week: he’s +7 for the week through 14 holes and tied for 123rd.

Shane Lowry is scrapping to make the cut. He’s level-par for the round and +2 for the week with four holes to play. Since the beginning of 2021 he’s finished top 25 in every major he’s played UNLESS it is this championship. That’s 8-for-8 at the other three, 0-for-2 in this one and currently in a share of 50th.

Fowler bounces back from his back-to-back bogeys. At the 12th he drains a 23-foot birdie putt and is back in double digits under-par, one clear of Schauffele and Clark on -10. Huge cheers from the galleries, that cool flap of the hand and a tiny nod of the head from the man himself.

Can Fowler and Schauffele cling on to a share of the lead on the back nine? Paul Azinger on TV commentary discusses the difficulties of a rising sea breeze and greens that are drying out.


Leaderboard update

The afternoon starters have hit a shaky spell and only two of them, the pre-round leaders, currently sit in the top eight – and they’ve both for the remainder of the tougher nine, the back nine, to encounter.

-9: W Clark (F), R Fowler (11), X Schauffele (10)
-8: R McIlroy (F)
-7: H English (F)
-6: D Johnson (F), MW Lee (F)
-5: S Bennett (F)

In contrast to Rahm, Scheffler has the easier nine to play and he’s made the ideal start with a birdie at the 1st. That takes him back to -3. Rory played that front nine in just 30 blows and Scheffler will be eyeing something similiar.

As I hand back to Matt, Fowler dribbles an unconvincing par putt wide of the hole at 11 and suddenly there’s a three-way tie at the top.

Bryson DeChambeau reached 6-under earlier after birdies at 1, 3 and 5. But the 2020 US Open winner suffered a head-exploding run of four bogeys in five holes from the 6th and is now back to -2 after 12. Another man with his name on this trophy, Gary Woodland, is also at -2 (11).

After starting with a blaze of glory called eagle at 1, Jon Rahm has been somewhat subdued. He managed a birdie at 6 but has given shots back at 4 and 7 to turn in 34. Tied 12th seems okay; eight off the lead is more problematical given those earlier stats about chasers never making up that kind of deficit in US Opens. Another negative is that the Spaniard has the harder nine still to play.

These two-shot swings at the top are becoming quite the thing. The dance continues as Schauffele birdies 8 to get back to -9 and Fowler drops back to -10 after finding sand off the 10th tee and never quite recovering the mistake. Let’s shuffle that leaderboard once again.

-10: R Fowler (10)
-9: W Clark (F), X Schauffele (8)
-8: R McIlroy (F)
-7: H English (F)

Max Homa has been one of the standout stars of the PGA Tour in the last couple of seasons. He’s won five times since February 2021, two of those coming in prestigious events on revered Californian courses: Torrey Pines and Riviera. He also once shot a 61 on this course. And yet, he just can’t get it right in majors. Ahead of this week, the world No. 7 had failed to post a single top 10 in the 15 majors he’s played. Expect that to become 16 as he’s +3 for the day, +1 overall (tied 44th) and has just arguably shanked one out of a bunker. What goes wrong for him in these events? Shrug emoji.

Sure, the scoring here doesn’t seem very US Open-ish. But it’s a bit much to say the numbers are like that of a regular PGA Tour event. Using high-level analysis (scrolling down some google leaderboards), I’ve computed that there are 19 players under par at Los Angeles Country Club right now. Last week in the Canadian Open, 64 players ended the week under par.

A random observation: Rory McIlroy (tied third), Jon Rahm (tied 12th), Romain Langasque (tied 20th) and Paul Barjon (tied 20th) are the only Europeans in the top 31 on the leaderboard. What does it mean? I’ve no idea. Viktor Hovland? He’s tied 32nd and 11 back after a bogey at 7.

Fowler at the 9th, an uphill par 3 measuring 168 yards, plays a smart shot into the heart of the green. That’s the eighth green in regulation he’s round on his opening nine and that’ll keep the grey hairs away in the pressured environment of a US Open.

But there’s frustration for Scheffler. He bogeys 17 and tumbles nine back from Fowler. That gap will need to close between now and close of play.

Another two-shot swing at the top and this time it goes in Fowler’s favour. Rickie’s pitch from short of the green finishes about 10 feet away although before he sizes up the putt, there’s a fist bump with Justin Rose who chips in for eagle. At +4, the cut line is in view again for the Englishman. Feeding off those good vibes, Fowler knocks in his putt to return to -11 while, hold the front page, Schauffele makes his first bogey of the tournament after a three-putt bogey at 7.

-11: R Fowler (8)
-9: W Clark (F)
-8: R McIlroy (F), X Schauffele (7)
-7: H English (F)

After making bogey at the short par-3 7th, Scottie Scheffler has rolled in a seven-foot birdie putt at 8, currently the sixth hardest hole on the course. At -3, seven behind leader Rickie Fowler, he sits alongside Jon Rahm so the top two players in the world rankings are officially hovering without quite getting to where they want to be. Seven back seems okay but no US Open winner this century has been more than six off the pace at halfway. That was Webb Simpson at Olympic Club in San Francisco 11 years ago.

A quick spin through some other players fancied to make a serious challenge this week. Viktor Hovland, a winner at Memorial two weeks ago, remains stuck on -1 after six opening pars; Max Homa is also at -1 after five pars and a bogey; Tyrrell Hatton, who started the day at +4, has climbed back above the cut line via birdies at 1 and 6 and sits at +2 after 8; Tommy Fleetwood is down at +3 again (after 9) after wasting a birdie-birdie start.

A two-shot swing up at the top. Fowler bogeys 7 but, after five straight pars, Schauffele birdies 6 from close range to go from three back to just one behind.

-10: R Fowler (7)
-9: W Clark (F), X Schauffele (6)
-8: R McIlroy (F)
-7: H English (F)

In the race for top amateur, Gordon Sargent (who Matt is convinced worked alongside William McGirt for the CIA and was present at Dealey Plaza/Watergate) is -2 and four clear. One of the chasers at +2 is England’s Barclay Brown. Remember him from the 2022 Open?


A word on the cut line. As it stands the +2s are in. But it’s almost certain anyone at +3 is heading home and that means no weekend action for Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Adrian Meronk, Mito Pereira, Alex Noren, Keegan Bradley, Victor Perez and Cam Davis. They’re all done for the day while Justin Thomas (+7 after 7) and Jason Day (+6 after 6) need a massive turnaround.

Schauffele is still playing the tortoise to Fowler’s hare as he settles for a fifth straight par. Scottie Scheffler also can’t find any acceleration in his round. Five pars to start and now he’s facing a monster putt at the short par-3 15th after flying his tee shot way too long. Scheffler started the day five back but now has eight strokes to make up on Fowler.

Fowler returns to -11 and two clear at the top after noncholantly rolling in a nine-footer for birdie at 6. A tip of the shades and on he goes to the 7th tee. A stroll in the park so far for Rickie. By contrast, fellow ‘Thursday 62 club’ member Schauffele is rather plodding. Four pars to open with have kept him at -8.

Some first-class potty-mouth action from England’s Jordan Smith on the 9th. He leaks his tee shot right, lets out an enormous grunt and, with perfect timing, shouts “fuck you” exactly as his ball plonks into sand to the left of the green. But unlike the amateur who can’t let it go and takes three violent swishes to get of the bunker, Smith makes par to stay at -1 and in a tie for 20th. Lovely stuff.


Cam Smith, currently in a tie for 10th, is a fan of Los Angeles Country Club. He believes his chances will improve the harder the course plays.

“I think I just love the turf, the way it runs out. I think it will start to play firmer and faster as the weekend goes on. But yeah, hopefully this place gets really baked out and we can have some fun out there.”

Thanks Matt. I remember doing a brief flash area interview with Rickie at the 2010 Open at St Andrews and feeling his aura. Sort of ‘68 Elvis. He’s gone a bit too conservative now for those sort of comparisons but I remain a fan.

Wonderful memories of Rickie and Rory. So much potential. So much hair. So much fabric in their trousers. And with that, time for Dave again.


Bryson DeChambeau has made a bright start but it’s under threat. He ticked birdies at the 1st, 3rd and 5th to join the group at -6 for the week. However, he’s just carved his drive at the short par-four 6th into the barranca. He has a mere 43 yards to the pin but has his fingers crossed for a good lie.

Brooks Koepka has admitted he’s not a fan of LA Country Club. Asked what he thought a US Open set-up should be after his second round 69, he answered:” I think it should be around par. Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of this place. I’m not a huge fan of blind tee shots, and then there are just some spots that, no matter what you hit, the ball just ends up in the same spot.”

What do you want to do next after making three birdies in a row? Maintain momentum maybe? Keep riding the wave? Or hang around on the next tee for nearly 15 minutes to hit your shot?!?!? That’s what Fowler had to do at the par-three 4th and his shot has found the scrubland. Updated scores:

-11: R Fowler (3)
-9: W Clark (F)
-8: R McIlroy (F), X Schauffele (2)
-7: H English (F)

This will work. Three approaches so far from Fowler, all of them finishing inside 7-feet.

A nice little exchange in Rory McIlroy’s post-second round chat with the press in which he deconstructs an often-quoted line of thought.

Question: “It’s kind of a funny statistic, but I don’t think you’ve yet won a tournament where the winning score was single digits under-par. Do you feel like this setup plays into your hands where you have to go out there and get it?”
: “So if I had shot single digits under-par at Congressional (in the 2011 US Open) I would have won. If I had shot single digits under at Kiawah Island (in the 2012 PGA Championship), I would have won. So I think it’s a flawed statistic.”

Here’s that magnificent penultimate blow of Rory McIlroy’s round. The baton has well and truly been taken by the afternoon starters. Jon Rahm has drained a 50-foot eagle putt at the 1st and Rickie Fowler has played yet another scintillating approach – he’s got 3-feet for a hat trick of birdies to start the second round. In it goes! -11 for the week through 21 holes!

How is Wyndham Clark feeling after setting the clubhouse 36-hole target? He’s been answering questions.

The state of his game? “I’m looking forward to getting some practice in. I didn’t have my best on the approaches today, so I’m hoping I can improve that and feel comfortable going into tomorrow. But leading a major at any point is always a good thing.”

His goals at the start of today? “Pretty simple. For me, it was to enjoy myself at a beautiful golf course. It was be cocky out there. It was to remind myself of the first two. Those were honestly my three goals and I thought if I could do that and keep myself in the best mindset, that the golf would take care of itself.”

His position heading into the weekend? “I like the spot I’m in. And nothing shocks me.”

This is giddy stuff. Rickie Fowler adds another par breaker so he’s opened birdie-birdie and is -10 for the week through just 20 holes. In fact, that is a record – the fastest man into double figures under-par in the championship’s history. US Open competitors of the past will be sitting somewhere and reviving the spirit of English cricket great Fred Trueman in huffing: “I just do not know what is going on out there.”


Yes, Dave is spot on. McIlroy’s tee shot at the 9th, his final hole of the round, was a sensational blow to just 3-feet. It briefly looked like dropping in the cup, too. If he converts he’ll have played the front nine in just 30 blows. “If” – an entirely unnecessary handbrake: he pops it in to complete opening rounds of 65-67. He’s -8 for the week and heads to lunch just one blow back of the pace-setter Wyndham Clark.

And now it’s time for Xander Schauffele, one of just three players to shoot 62 in a major following his sensational first round yesterday. The local man didn’t have a single bogey which was some going. He’s found rough down the left with his opening drive but this is a par 5 let’s remember. To guide you through his opening hole alongside Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm is… Matt.

And he’ll also have something special to tell you about Rory McIlroy’s tee shot at 9!


McIlroy towers a glorious approach onto the green at the par-5 8th and he’ll have just outside 20 feet for eagle! Hole that and Rory will be just one off the lead. McIlroy’s fast right-to-left breaker slides by on the left but a fifth birdie in eight holes takes him alongside English in tied fourth.

At the 1st, Fowler’s second finds sand and he does well to jab out the bunker shot to about six feet given that his ball was near the face. An easy rock of the putter and it drops for birdie. Fowler ties Clark for the lead.

-9 W Clark (F), R Fowler (1)
-8 X Schauffele (-)
-7 H English (F), R McIlroy (17)
-6 D Johnson (F), MW Lee (F)

Padraig Harrington shot a 69 today but he’ll be sweating on the cut. The three-time major winner opened with a 73 so his score of +2 may be one too many. We shall see.

As always, the Irishman had some insightful comments about the course set-up. “Tough, tough. Much tougher. They have lengthened the golf course substantially. Firmed the greens up a little. I don’t know if they have changed the pin positions from what they had intended, but with the longer golf course and the firmer greens, those pins certainly were difficult. I’m sure yesterday they didn’t know what they had, because the first time here in a long time that they were a bit afraid that they could set it up too difficult. Obviously now they can see, hey, we can put a little bit more into it, so, yeah, I would be expecting a little tougher over the weekend, but again, you know that the ideal scoring from a players’ perspective is about 14-under par. Start getting down to level par the players are saying, hang on a second, this is a bit tricky. Obviously you start getting 10, 12-under par, now the USGA won’t be happy. So somewhere between 4 and 8. The fact that guys got to 8 they’re certainly going to try to hold those guys back and have a winning score in single digits.”

Here’s what Harris English had to say after shooting a 66 that took him to -7. That’s currently good enough for solo fourth.

“It was tough out of the gate. My putter kept me in it on that back nine. Didn’t hit it very close to the hole, but sometimes you’ve got to grind it out like that and then finally started swinging well making the turn. Reeled off a good many birdies. I didn’t realise I got 30 until the scorer in there just told me. The front nine is obviously easier and you can get it going. But still, hit 3-wood on 7 into a par-3. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before. 290-something today. It’s one of those, drove it on the green on 6, which I hit it right where I wanted to, but it’s hard to do. Yeah, started getting it going. I like where I’m standing, and we’ll see what those guys shot this afternoon.”

It’s time for one of yesterday’s record breakers, Rickie Fowler, to hit his opening shot of round two. Can he follow up that astonishing 62? He takes aim with the big stick and finds the left side of the fairway at 1, the ball bounding on some 30 yards after landing. Fowler’s coach Butch Harmon told his man to be more aggressive yesterday and it worked. Can he stay on board with that same approach today or will there be a temptation to hold back a little? Fowler’s playing partners Justin Rose and Jason Day shot a combined 9-over yesterday so they have some serious work to do to make the cut, especially 2013 US Open winner Rose after a miserable 6-over 76.

DJ speaks and auto-pilots some stuff about swinging well, not trying to push it and playing solid. He didn’t really mention putting and yet that was the big difference today. Johnson only ranked 86th for SG: Putting in round one but he’s currently 6th in that category for round two. If his blade stays hot, the two-time major winner has every chance of adding to his 2016 US Open triumph at Oakmont.

McIlroy stays tied with DJ at -6 after a two-putt par at 7, his 16th, but Koepka bogeys to return to even par. Nine back. Hmmm.

Tip of the cap to Dustin Johnson. He curls in a 16-footer for birdie at 18 to complete a round of even-par 70 that included a quadruple bogey at his second hole of the day. That’s some fightback and at 6-under he’s just three back. Keep calm and carry on; that’s DJ’s motto. A man at his happiest when riding a speedboat eating sandwiches.


Leaderboard update

Wyndham Clark cosies his 28-foot birdie try at 9 up to the hole and taps in for a 67. An excellent way to build on his opening 64 and that’s the new clubhouse lead of -9. Here are the scores on the doors…

-9 W Clark (F)
-8 R Fowler (-), X Schauffele (-)
-7 H English (F)
-6 R McIlroy (15)
-5 D Johnson (17), S Bennett (16), MW Lee (16), B Harman (15)

Without making any headlines, Brooks Koepka has quietly got himself back into red figures for the tournament. The five-time major winner has birdied 1 and 6 to climb to -1 and is eight off the pace. Official status with three holes to play: lurking.

Clark breaks out of the three-way tie for top spot with a confident 8-foot birdie conversion at his penultimate hole, the par-5 8th. That ends a run of eights pars and a bogey and returns the 29-year-old American to 9-under. His short game has been sensational so far this week. He ranks 1st for Strokes Gained: Around The Green and 6th for SG: Putting.

Meanwhile, here’s a real shot-of-the-day contender from Open champion Cameron Smith. And, yes, he made the putt for par.

At the short 315-yard par-4 6th hole, McIlroy spins his approach back down a slope from the fringe and tucks away the six footer for birdie. That’s his fourth par breaker in six holes and he’s absolutely right in the thick of contention now at -6. It’s two back from pacesetters Clark, Fowler and Schauffele and one behind English, who has made par at his closing hole to complete a lap of just 66 blows and set the clubhouse target of -7.

Away from the simple La La Land of Los Angeles Country Club, a reminder of all the serious stuff in golf right now.

Sam Bennett continues to excel and his clean card gets another splodge of red via a birdie at 6. With three holes to go he’s up to tied fourth on -6 and only two behind leader Clark, who makes another good par save at 7.

Back at 5, McIlroy pours in a 23-foot putt for birdie and that wipes out his bogey at 4. Harris English is also about to make a fifth birdie on his homeward nine. By the time I’ve written a leaderboard update, that’ll be in the hole. Here goes.

-8 W Clark (16) R Fowler (-), X Schauffele (-)
-7 H English (17)
-6 S Bennett (15)
-5 D Johnson (16), B Harman (15), R McIlroy (14)

Here’s the full story on Tiger confirming he won’t be at Royal Liverpool next month. As we’re here in California, a reminder that Woods won the 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach by 15 (fifteen) shots!!! Tiger shot -12, the next best score was +3. Bonkers.


Thanks Matt. One obvious observation so far is that freaky scores seem to have been tamed. No-one in the morning wave is better than 3-under for the day.

Of course, as I write that, Sahith Theegala goes to -4 for the day after a birdie at 16. That’s hauled him back to even par from +4. The cut line looks to be oscillating between +1 and +2 so Theegala should be here for the weekend barring any late calamities.

Clark’s chip is very good and leaves him six and a half feet for par. With that, back to Dave.

A big test coming up for the leader on the course Wyndham Clark because he’s flown the green at the par-three 7th. He’s actually hit his tee shot 319 yards which is a preposterous number for a “short” hole. The difficulty of the scramble for par is this: he has a steep bank in front of him and not a lot of green to play.

An email from regular correspondent Michael Meagher: “Oh, Rory!” But it arrived an hour ago when I was on a break and since then, of course, McIlroy has made two birdies in the first four holes on the front nine. Poor Michael will consider it just another opportunity to have his heart bruised. As if to prove it, McIlroy makes a bogey at the 5th. Back to +1 for the round and -4 for the tournament.

Patrick Cantlay is grinding to make the cut. He played the front nine in +2 and looked set for a free weekend – which would surely hurt for a local man who has solid experience of the course – but he’s made two birdies in four holes since the turn. He’s +1 for the week and just about the right side of the cut line. The 31-year-old has a poor major record for his quality: just one top six finish in 25 starts.

Here’s an interesting one – the Quail Hollow Factor. Wyndham Clark won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow last month. Who was second? Xander Schauffele. Who was third? Harris English. And Rickie Fowler was 14th. Fowler is also a former winner on that course, as are Rory McIlroy (three times) and Max Homa.

Breaking news

The R&A have confirmed that Tiger Woods won’t play in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool next month, scene of his victory in 2006.

Dead-eye Harris English is at it again. He makes it four birdies in six holes to start the front nine (his second) and it leaps him to solo fourth on -6 for the week, two behind the leaders.

As joint-leader Rickie Fowler arrives on the property ahead of his 21.32 tee time, I’ll hand you back to Matt for a few holes.

Tony Finau’s charge has stalled a little following his outward 32. He’s made bogey at 11 and will have to get up and down at 13 to save par and remain at -4.

But McIlroy is keeping the forward momentum. Despite missing his birdie try at 2, he’s rolled in a 10-footer at 3 to add a third red circle to his card. After playing his first eight holes in +2, the books have been balanced and Rory is even for the day and -5 overall, just three off the pace.

This is a tough stretch for leader Clark but he grinds out a par at 5 thanks to a save from eight feet. A couple of birdie holes to come at 6 and 8 so he still has a chance to become the first man to reach double digits under par.

While Clark grinds, Harris English is flying following birdies at 1, 3 and 5, the latter after holing a monstrous putt from nearly 80 feet. And there looks to be more to come as his three wood at the short par-4 6th tiptoes onto the front of the green. Eagle putt coming up.


Rory looks baffled as his birdie putt at 11 never threatens the hole. He stays at -4.

Matt Fitzpatrick is back at even par after 27 holes and looking unlikely to defend the title he won at Southern Hills last year. Still, he’s made another dent on the record books this week. Curiously, he seemed to celebrate that hole-in-one at 15 by doing an impression of Rickie Fowler.

Rory booms a beauty off the 2nd tee so he’ll have wedge for his approach. McIlroy and Min Woo Lee are the only non-Americans in the top 10 by the way. One of those eight with the US flag next to their name is Dustin Johnson who strokes in a nine-foot putt at 12 to reach 4-under. He’s now 2-under for the day since that calamitous 8 at 2. And that’s a two-shot swing on Clark, who drops back into a three-way tie for the lead on -8 after giving a stroke back at 3, his 13th.

Rory McIlroy will want to keep Clark in his sights and that means making birdie at the easy 1st hole. He’s up to the job, holing from just inside five feet to move back to -4 overall, five off the pace. A quick check of Rory’s stats to this point. He ranks 6th for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, 28th for Putting, 35th Approach, 30th Tee To Green and 126th Around The Green. Hmmm, that latter stat suggests the short game will need to sharpen up.

Geoff Ogilvy (Winged Foot, 2006) was the last Australian winner of the US Open, a tournament that will surely always haunt Colin Montgomerie and Phil Mickelson, who both made double bogey at the 72nd hole when par would have been enough to win.

It’s been a mixed week so far for the Aussie contingent but they now have some leaderboard presence via Open champion Cameron Smith and Min Woo Lee. Both are -2 for the day and -3 overall.

Much further down the standings, Adam Scott and Jason Day have much work to do after signing for 3-over 73s on day one. Cam Davis, who turned heads when posting tied fourth in last month’s US PGA, is having a miserable old time of it. Following yesterday’s 72, he’s slumped to +8 overall after going out in 41. He’s now down at 147 on the leaderboard. Wrong bloody sport mate.


Charley Hoffman still has the low round of the day going. He’s -4 after 14 holes and -3 overall. Our leader Wyndham Clark, Tony Finau, Sahith Theegala and Padraig Harrington are all -3 for their rounds. Finau has now climbed to -5, Harrington is at Even par while Theegala is +1. Time for a leaderboard update.

-9 W Clark (11)
-8 R Fowler, X Schauffele
-5 T Finau (9)
-4 H English (12), S Bennett (9), B Harman (9)

Still a distinct lack of noise out on the course. Not Scooby Doo ghost town quiet but laid back is about the most complimentary term that can be used. Some Rory fireworks would help but McIlroy’s putter has gone cold and his nine footer for birdie at 18 after a brilliant approach catches the lip and stays out. The 2011 champ turns in -3 but, like Clark, is now on the easier nine.

Great work from Clark at the 2nd. His chip goes nine feet past the flag but he holes the putt to remain at 9-under and a shot in front. And let’s not forget he’s on the easier nine now so has a chance to really spreadeagle the field.

Brooks Koepka is struggling to make inroads after an opening birdie at 10 suggested he would creep onto the leaderboard sooner rather than later. He’s scribbled down six pars and a bogey over his next seven holes and remains stuck on +1, a full 10 shots back and in a tie for 50th. Not where we expect the five-time major winner to be.

Dustin Johnson made a bright start in the US PGA Championship, shooting an opening 67 but then following it with a trio of 74s. He’ll hope that same pattern isn’t repeating here after that ugly snowman (8) on the par-4 2nd. After a 64 on day one, he’s reached the turn in 38 today which is three over for the card. That currently has him tied seventh on -3.

McIlroy settles for bogey on 17 so joins DJ on -3, six back from Clark, whose approach at 2, his 11th, pulls up short of the green and is somewhat fortunate not to roll back into the barranca. He can save par from there.


Just a par for leader Wyndham Clark at the 1st, his 10th, so an obvious birdie opportunity missed. He’s using the thick putter grip that I always associate with KJ Choi. It’s certainly working for him; Clark is ranked 2nd for Strokes Gained: Putting today and 7th overall for the tournament.

At the tough 17th, McIlroy gets an absolute flier from the rough – “that came out like Usain Bolt” says Wayne Riley, although I’d go with Leroy Burrell, always a faster starter over the first 60m. This is now going wrong for Rory as he opens the face of a wedge and only gets it to the apron. A bogey most likely there although that’s no disaster on such a tough hole.


Plenty of you will have had your attention on the first day of the Ashes series. You can read all about it here.

Thanks Matt. An excellent stint. We’re in the slightly kooky position of Wyndham Clark being five shots clear of anyone else out on the course. His total of -9 is way ahead of the -4s which include Rory McIlroy and Tony Finau but, of course, he’s just one in front of Thursday record breakers Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele. Those two won’t enter the stage until much later.

21:32 J Rose (Eng), R Fowler (US), J Day (Aus)
21:54 X Schauffele (US), V Hovland (Nor), J Rahm (Spa)

Time for a change so I’ll leave you in Dave’s safe hands for a while. I’’ leave you with some classic Padraig Harrington.

Leaderboard update

Wayne Riley is also now bemoaning the lack of noise on the course. It’s flat out there. How flat would they be if this was a normal US Open with no birdies?!?!? Here’s the state of play:

-9 W Clark (9)
-8 R Fowler, X Schauffele
-4 A Putnam (11), S Bennett (7), T Finau (7), B Harman (7), R McIlroy (7)

On television on-course reporter Wayne Riley is frustrated. “There’s no wind out here,” he cries. It’s enabling the greens to retain their early morning softness and it’s not adding to the complexity of long game decisions or execution.

How are the par-threes playing today? It’s worth looking at given the huge range in length. Here are the five of them with yardage, rank in terms of difficulty and average score.

4th - 221 - 3rd - 3.410
7th - 299 - 2nd - 3.420
9th - 168 - 12th - 2.940
11th - 297 - 4th - 3.390
15th - 115 - 16th - 2.800

It’s early in the day but the short holes make up three of the four most difficult holes.


Sam Bennett is also now -4 for the week. An amateur when he contended at the Masters in April, this is his third professional start and seems certain to be his third cut made. He opened with six pars, looked a little rattled occasionally, but has now added a birdie at the tough 555-yard par-four 16th.

Big Tony Finau is making a move. He opened with a birdie at the 1st and has added another at the short par-four 6th. He’s yet another golfer who’s had recent problems in this event. Like Smith (see below) he made a debut in 2015 and was 14th but since then he’s never broken 72 in the second round. He’s on track to end that nasty pattern and, like Andrew Putnam, has joined Harman and McIlroy on -4 for the week.

Cameron Smith has sneaked his way into the top 10. After signing for a 69 yesterday the Open champion dropped an early shot at the 11th having started his second round on the back nine. But he’s splashed red numbers on his card at the 12th, 13th and 15th to hit -3 for the week which is good enough for a share of sixth. He finished 4th in his US Open debut in 2015 but hadn’t carded a sub-70 score since then until yesterday.

Another hole in one! We had two yesterday and the defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick makes another at the 115-yard par-three 15th. High drama at the US Open once again for the Sheffield golfer and he can’t wipe the smile off his face. He’s -2 for the round and now -1 for the week.


We’ve got a new leader and something of a split at the top. Wyndham Clark’s wonderful run is maintained when he drains a birdie putt at the 7th. But dropped shots have left Brian Harman and Rory McIlroy, still in the top five, four back of the overnight leaders.

-9: W Clark (7)
-8: R Fowler, X Schauffele
-4: B Harman (4), R McIlroy (4)

A regression to mean for Harris English (see 17.22). His par putt at the 16th was 25-feet and he couldn’t keep up the run of saves – he missed it. He’s still -2 for the week and in a tie for 14th.


Charley Hoffman is on a roll. He started on the back nine and circled three birdies. He did drop a shot but he’s opened the front nine birdie-eagle to be -4 for the round and -3 for the week. It’s always one of my favourite oddities that this Californian PGA Tour veteran, and winner of four titles on the circuit, registered his first main tour top five finish in the 2002 Madeira Islands Open.

Brilliance from Wyndham Clark at the 14th and he joins the lead. Truly, he appeared to have no shot from short of the par-five green but he conjured magic with his lob wedge and drained the birdie putt that followed. I mentioned earlier his poor major championship form but his form this year has been excellent: eight top 20 finishes in his last nine starts including a first PGA Tour win. He is -2 for the round and -8 for the week.


Harris English is level-par through six holes today but the American grinding. He’s holed out from 21 feet, twice from eight feet and again from five feet for pars. It’s either pure US Open or he’s about to stop standing tall in the face of golfing adversity. He’s -3 for the week in a tie for 6th.

Here’s McIlroy’s birdie at the 12th. A lovely little hold of his position followed by a knee hitch/curtsey as it dropped. Classic McIlroy ticks and often a sign that he’s in the mood.

McIlroy is back on track. His approach at the 369-yard 12th leaves him a 32-foot curving putt for birdie. A two putt would be acceptable but it drops in the hole and the error at the 11th is forgiven.

Jordan Spieth is fighting to make the cut today after signing for a 72 yesterday. It’s far from the first time that he’s struggled with this championship in the first round. In fact, it was the 10th time in his 12 opening laps that he’s failed to break 72. His victory in 2014 and 17th in 2013 - his two best finishes in the event - both came off first round sub-70 scores. He’s opened Friday with a birdie and a bogey.

Leaderboard update

Brian Harman makes a birdie at the 12th to make up for a dropped shot at the 10th. McIlroy now four back of the lead but alone in fifth.

-8: R Fowler, X Schauffele
-7: W Clark (4)
-5: B Harman (3)
-4: R McIlroy (2)

Video footage of DJ’s demise. The rough is not what we expect at a US Open – that tends to be long, flowing fescue or messy mops of bent grass. LA CC features Bermuda rough which doesn’t need to be as long to be difficult to escape from – the ball plops down to the bottom of the roots and the grass sits around it like grasping hands. (A decent bounce back from Johnson with a birdie at his next hole, by the way.)

McIlroy played a very fine recovery at the long par-three 11th. His ball was settled in the thick grass, his feet clinging to the top of the bunker’s edge. He thrashed through the grass and managed to find the putting surface but the 14-feet par putt swung across the front of the hole. He found 16 of his first 17 greens in regulation this week and has now missed 2 of his last 3.

20 minutes ago Dustin Johnson was two back of the US Open lead, now he’s six adrift. He’s finally completed the par-four 2nd and it has almost certainly broken his championship challenge. He needed 8 (eight) shots and he is now two under for the week, nearer the cut line than the lead. The 2nd, by the way, is just the 8th most difficult hole on the course. Meanwhile, McIlroy’s tee shot at the 11th has found thick rough around a bunker – horribly reminiscent of the grass which tripped him up last night with a whiff.


Ouch. Dustin Johnson is revealing how LA Country Club can bite. His drive at the 490-yard par-four 2nd finds the face of a bunker and he can only hack it up the hole into the thick Bermuda grass rough. From there he failed to get enough of the ball and it disappeared into the barranca (rugged ditch) short of the green. After a penalty drop his approach has finished over the green so he needs to chip in for a double bogey! Over on the back nine, McIlroy opens with a par.

Rory McIlroy opens his second round with a drive down the middle of the 10th fairway. Here’s a quirk of his recent Friday adventures in the US Open. Between 2016 and 2018 he always improved on his first round score in the second lap - but then he could hardly have failed to having never broken 77 on Thursday during that run. Since then though? Yesterday’s first round was a fifth straight time he ended Thursday within three shots of the leaders. In the first four of those efforts, he always needed more shots on Friday. You’d expect the same today but he needs to hang tough - two of those last four second rounds were 73+ which he surely cannot afford to repeat.

A word about the yardages today. It’s common for players to stand aside at the green on a short par-four and allow the group behind to drive up; it helps the speed of play. It is, however, rarely seen on a par-three but that is exactly what is happening today on the par-three 11th because it is playing 297 yards. The par-three 7th? That’s 299 yards. And the par-four 6th? 315 yards. Dizzy stuff and typical of the designer George Thomas who liked yardages to be somewhat challenging and ambiguous.

Here’s a remarkable Dustin Johnson stat: his 64 in round one means he has drawn level with Tiger Woods for the most rounds of 65 or better in major championship history.

Dustin Johnson starts his second round from the quirky 1st tee (situated on the practice putting green). Meanwhile, Clark completed his birdie at his 1st and is now just one back of the leaders. Leading scores:

-8: R Fowler, X Schauffele
-7: W Clark (1)
-6: D Johnson
-5: B Harman, R McIlroy

They’re talking about the conditions in the Sky Sports commentary box – and they’re not convinced that it is going to be brutal today. They acknowledge that the pin positions are potentially difficult but, when tee shots avoid the rough, the greens are maybe not as fiery as we expected ahead of this week. Balls are holding the putting surfaces.

David Howell emails: “At risk of making it incredibly obvious I’m a British Millennial, the USGA setups have often reminded me of that Dick and Dom feature where they dared to shout “Bogies!” at increasing volume in public places. If that’s the case, yesterday’s first round was like the time they did it in a library. Can’t wait to see the actual shouting begin today - many regular tournaments this year have felt more like a US Open than this actual US Open so far!” I mentioned this early yesterday – there are some conflicting reports but the general consensus is that the daily capacity is about 24,000 fans and as many as 20,000 are corporate tickets.

The first of the leaders is on the course. Wyndham Clark finds the middle of the fairway with his 318-yard drive at his first hole, the 10th. The winner of last month’s Wells Fargo Championship is playing his seventh major and he’s yet to end the week in the top 70. He looks set to end that trend after his superb 64 yesterday. His approach was very good too and has set up a 6-foot birdie putt.

Wyndham Clark is looking to keep climbing the leaderboard.
Wyndham Clark is looking to keep climbing the leaderboard. Photograph: Matt York/AP


History emphasises how important today’s action will be. There have been 23 US Opens in the 21st century and 21 of the eventual champions were tied sixth or better after 36 holes. One of the exceptions was last year’s winner Matt Fitzpatrick who was tied for 13th but only three shots back of the lead. There tends to be more significant movement on Friday in this championship than on the commonly accepted Moving Day (Saturday).

Spain’s Alejandro Del Rey has opened his second round with a par at the 10th, his first hole. Let’s have a reminder of his drive at the 315-yard par-four 6th yesterday – one of the highlights of Thursday’s action.

The weather is set fair in Los Angeles today. Temperatures in the high 60s, maybe low 70s and nothing more than a 5-10 mph breeze. Rather like the UK right now actually. I spent my morning going for a run, among other exercisers, cooling down with an ice cream by the water’s edge, wondering how today’s golf might pan out. I’m actually in the English Midlands but it felt a touch Venice Beach-like.

The action has started, but so far none of the leaders are on the course. An early indication of the potential for big numbers has been revealed by the experience of Colombia’s Nico Echavarria at the 1st. As this tweet reveals, he unleashed a superb drive at the par-five. But then it all went horribly wrong and he walked off with a double bogey.

In need of a quick recap of yesterday’s low scoring? Here’s Ewan Murray’s report of the day when Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele laughed in the face of history.

As Ewan writes: “Jack Nicklaus never managed it. Neither did Tiger Woods. Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Seve Ballesteros … the list goes on.”

By my reckoning 14 of the 18 pins are within six yards of the edge of the putting surface. And there are some crackers in there too – look at the 12th! Standing around that hole, looking to tap the ball in, the players will have sand close by them on three different sides!

How will the USGA achieve its aim of making life difficult for the field? Conditioning is one factor: let the fairways run faster and faster, don’t cut the rough and have the greens run rapid. The other key factor? It can cut fiendish pin positions. Have they done that? Simple answer: of course they have.

Good morning/afternoon everyone. A big day ahead of the field and an intriguing one too. As Dave mentioned in the preamble, there are expectations that the USGA will not have been too pleased to see so many low scores, not to mention that pair or record breaking efforts from Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele. In other words, we’re expecting the golf course to be full of bite in the second round. Strap in.


Golf fans would have been forgiven for thinking they were looking at the John Deere Classic leaderboard when scrolling through the scores at Los Angeles Country Club on day one. Never has there been a score of 62 in the previous 122 US Opens but yesterday we saw two. First, Rickie Fowler wrote himself into the history books, not only claiming the US Open 18-hole record but matching the lowest round in major championship history: Branden Grace’s 62 at Royal Birkdale in the 2017 Open Championship. Lo and behold, just two groups later fellow American Xander Schauffele equalled it. Freaks? Two-offs? Weird outliers? Well, not quite as a birdie from Dustin Johnson at his final hole in the afternoon would have made it a trio of 62s. DJ made bogey to shoot 64.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the bods at the USGA won’t be allowing those types of scores today so expect tougher pins and higher scoring on day two. Par is just a number and all that but we can’t have a US Open being won with 20-under. This is meant to be all about grind and attrition, right. Here’s when and where Fowler, Scheffler et al tee off in Friday’s second round.

Starting at hole one (all times BST)
(* denotes amateur)

14:45 R Fisher (Eng), N Echavarria (Col), P Haley II (US)
14:56 N Dunlap (US)*, N Hardy (US), S Stevens (US)
15:07 T Pendrith (Can), N Potgieter (SA)*, R Langasque (Fra)
15:18 A Puttnam (US), V Perez (Fra), A Ancer (Mex)
15:29 P Mickelson (US), P Harrington (Ire), K Bradley (US)
15:40 M Pereira (Chi), E Grillo (Arg), Fernandez de Oliveira (Arg)*
15:51 T Kim (Kor), S Theegala (US), C Young (US)
16:02 S Burns (US), D Johnson (US), K Mitchell (US)
16:13 T Finau (US), J Spieth (US), P Cantlay (US)
16:24 D Thompson (US), MW Lee (Aus), J Suh (US)
16:35 T Moore (US), M Hughes (Can), B Carr (US)*
16:46 P Cover (US), D Nyfjall (Swe)*, F Capan III (US)
16:57 A Truslow (US), C Cavaliere (US)*), A Schaake (US)
20:15 B Henson (US), R Nagano (Jpn), H Lebioda (US)
20:26 M Kim (US), J Smith (Eng), W Ding (Chn)*
20:37 S Stallings (US), P Summerhays (US)*, L Herbert (AUs)
20:48 J Dantorp (Swe), P Rodgers (US), R Armour (US)
20:59 T Pieters (Bel), A Wise (US), G Sargent (US)*
21:10 B DeChambeau (US), F Molinari (Ita), T Hatton (Eng)
21:21 T Hoge (US), S Garcia (Spa), S Straka (Aut)
21:32 J Rose (Eng), R Fowler (US), J Day (Aus)
21:43 P Reed (US), M Kuchar (US), SW Kim (Kor)
21:54 X Schauffele (US), V Hovland (Nor), J Rahm (Spa)
22:05 M Kaymer (Ger), S Cink (US), M Thorbjornsen (US)*
22:16 D Horsey (Eng), B Valdes (US), P Barjon (Fra)
22:27 J Gumberg (US), K Mueller (US), B Amat (Fra)*

Starting on hole 10

14:45 B Grant (US), V Norman (Swe), C Hoffman (US)
14:56 S Forsstrom (Swe), C Ortiz (Mex), M Moldovan (US)*
15:07 E Cole (US), T Lawrence (SA), A Schenk (US)
15:18 L List (US), W Nienaber (SA), A Del Rey (Spa)
15:29 A Meronk (Pol), H English (US), J Niemann (Chi)
15:40 A Noren (Swe), W Clark (US), A Eckroat (US)
15:51 K Kitayama (US), C Davis (Aus), R Henley (US)
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)
16:35 S Muniz (Col), N Taylor (Can), T Montgomery (US)
16:46 O Browne Jr (US), D Puig (Spa), K Vilips (US)*
16:57 C Pereira (US), I Simmons (US)*, JJ Grey (Eng)
20:15 O Morales (Mex)*, D Germishuys (SA), J Solomon (US)
20:26 R Gerard (US), Katsuragawa (Jpn), M Brennan (US)*
20:37 H Buckley (US), A Svensson (Can), P Larrazabal (Spa)
20:48 C Young (US), D Wu (US), R Sloan (Can)
20:59 R Ishikawa (Jpn), K Streelman (US), M Pavon (Fra)
21:10 S Lowry (Ire), J Thomas (US), T Fleetwood (Eng)
21:21 Sungjae Im (Kor), KH Lee (Korea), JT Poston (US)
21:32 G Woodland (US), Scott (Aus), C Conners (Can)
21:43 C Morikawa (US), M Homa (US), S Scheffler (US)
21:54 D McCarthy (US), J Dahmen (US), A Hadwin (Can)
22:05 M McLean (NI)*, S Power (Ire), R Fox (NZ)
22:16 M Meissner (US), B Brown (Eng), G Charoenkul (Tha)
22:27 A Yang (HK)*, J Schutte (US), A Svoboda (US)

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