Will Zalatoris had a hot putter. Now it’s suddenly stone cold. A par putt missed from eight feet at 7; a birdie effort passes by the hole from similar distance on 8. He’s -2. A poor start for Brian Harman, who bogeys 2 and 3 to slip to -1. And back on 1, Rory McIlroy finds his errant drive in a decent lie, only to hit a hot wedge over the back of the green. But he’s able to chip out of the cabbage to a couple of feet, from where he salvages his par. It’s all about hanging on in there today.
Here comes Rory! A warm ovation from the gallery. Boston Celtics, you see. Then silence as he screams LEFT! and sends his opening drive towards the concession stands down that side of the hole. Danger here. Also some trouble for Scottie Scheffler at the par-three 2nd. He leaves his tee shot short and left, then skulls a chip through the green. He does well to limit the damage by getting up and down from the fringe, but that’s handed back the shot he picked up on 1. He’s back to -3.
Cameron Tringale is also yet to make his mark in the majors. His best finish is a tie for 26th at last year’s Open; he hasn’t played at the US Open since 2015, when he was tied for 54th at Chambers Bay. But the 34-year-old Californian is going along nicely this afternoon: turning in level-par 35, he’s just birdied 10, 12 and 13 to whisk himself up the standings to -1.
Sam Burns already has three victories on the PGA Tour this season. The latest came at the Charles Schwab Challenge three weeks ago, so he’s bang in form. He doesn’t have much of a record in the majors yet, but this could be the 25-year-old from Louisiana’s breakthrough event. He rattles in a long birdie putt across 3, and joins the group at -3.
Scottie Scheffler has a nice flat lie in the bunker, and can take a shy at the green from the best part of 200 yards. The Masters champ whips a glorious iron into the heart of the green, straight at the flag. He’ll have a look at birdie and an ideal start from 25 feet. In it goes, calm as you like. What a putt. What a second shot. What a phenomenon Scheffler is. He’s now one off the lead, already an ominous move.
-5: Morikawa, Dahmen
-4: Scheffler (1), Buckley, Rahm, McIlroy, Wise, Hossler
The world number one Scottie Scheffler takes to the 1st tee. He pulls his opening tee shot into a fairway bunker. Meanwhile Tom Kim follows up his eagle at 5 with a 20-foot birdie roll at 7, walking it in, in the Kevin Na style. At -2, Tom is on the right tracks. Sorry. Sorry. I’m sorry.
Not the start Matt Fitzpatrick wanted. A three-footer for par pulled left at 1. He slips back to -1. He left the flagstick in there, as he usually does, but the wind was blowing it around like crazy. That surely can’t have helped. A fair chance he’ll be taking it out for the shorter putts from now. Meanwhile on 6, Zalatoris will miss the green to the right and doesn’t get particularly close with his chip on, but he steers in the left-to-right 12-footer to remain at -3.
-5: Morikawa, Dahmen
-4: Buckley, Rahm, McIlroy, Wise, Hossler
-3: Zalatoris (6), Hardy, Scheffler, NeSmith, Rodgers, Harman
-2: Burns (2)
-1: Kim (6), Lingmerth (4), Vick -a- (2), Hadwin (2), Fitzpatrick (2)
Min Woo Lee already has one big title to his name: last year’s Scottish Open, which the young Australian won after a final round of 64 and a play-off with Thomas Detry and Matt Fitzpatrick. He’s also got the US Junior Amateur on his resumé, and when he won that in 2016 it meant he and sister Minjee, who lifted the US Girls’ Junior in 2012, became the first brother and sister to land both of the USGA’s junior championships. Minjee, of course, won the US Women’s Open just a couple of weeks ago in sensational style. Little bro won’t be another double this week, but he has finished up with birdies at 17 and 18 for a round of 69 to end Moving Day at +2. Maybe next year?
Kim Joo-hyung, 19 years old from Seoul, is making his US Open debut this week. He’s not wasting any time, either. A 68 yesterday, and now he’s just holed out from 50 yards at the par-four 6th for eagle. Kim – who has already been in the winner’s circle this year, with his second Asian Tour title at the Singapore International in January – is known to friends and family as Tom. Why? “Actually, it was Thomas. I got it from Thomas the train when I was young. I had the whole thing, I had the lunchbox, I had the toys, yeah. As I grew older, some people started calling me Tom and I thought it was just shorter and more simple. My brother even calls me Tom. It was kind of natural. And my family calls me Tom as well, my friends call me Tom, so it kind of just came natural to me. It was that kind of name.” Tom is currently -1 overall.
Will Zalatoris gets plenty of pelters for his erratic putting, but when he’s on, he’s on. A long birdie effort drained at 2, another chance shaving the cup at 3, and now he’s picked up another shot with another rake on 4! This guy loves the majors – five top-ten finishes in seven starts, including two runner-up places – and he promised he’d try his damnedest to go one better after losing the PGA play-off to Justin Thomas last month. He could be making good on that. He’s -3.
Callum Tarren has announced his talent this week. The 31-year-old from Darlington led the US Open by a couple of shots at one point yesterday, and they’ll never take that away from him. But he suffered a dismal back nine yesterday, coming back in 38, and it may have rocked his confidence. A shaky three-putt bogey at 1 and he slips back to level par overall.
It’s tough out there, and it’s only going to get tougher. But it’s always possible to post a score. Denny McCarthy is in with a two-under 68, though the 29-year-old from Maryland demonstrates how you have to keep on scrapping at 18, tapping a 20-foot birdie putt that runs and runs five feet past. He’s not of a mind to spoil his good work on the very last hole, though, steeling himself to roll in the par putt. He’s +1, currently outside the top 20, but on Sky, the ever-excellent Dame Laura Davies suggests he’ll certainly be inside it come the end of an attritional day.
The only truly notable move so far has been made by the PGA runner-up Will Zalatoris. The 25-year-old from San Francisco has already made his mark on the US Open, making a hole-in-one during his first round at Winged Foot in 2020 then very nearly making another six holes later. A dimple away from history. He tied for sixth that year. He’s going along nicely this year too, having carded 69 and 70 while under the radar for the first two days. He only just gets onto the front of the par-three 2nd with his tee shot, but steers in a long right-to-left swinger for birdie, then nearly drains another at 3. He’s made the first move near the top of the leaderboard to -2.
Having said all that, one of the first players to complete his round today has done so under par. Sebastián Muñoz finished birdie-birdie, and signed for a one-under 69. The 29-year-old Colombian’s best finish at a US Open was a tie for 59th at Winged Foot a couple of years ago; at +2 overall, he’s currently tied for 30th and on course to better that significantly.
… so, any early movers, then? Well, the wind has been brisk at Brookline … so no. Of the 40-odd players already out there, a grand total of three are currently under par for their rounds, and one of those has only played two holes. The USGA will be cock-a-hoop. Hey, it’s the US Open, it’s just how it’s got to be. The average score on the front nine on the first two days was 35.9; today it’s 36.9. The wind’s expected to pick up, as well, which in turn will further harden the greens. Expect it to be a grind … but grinding, as Prince never tired of telling us, can be a very enjoyable experience indeed. Here we go, then.
It’s Moving Day! Here’s how the top of the leaderboard looked after 36 holes…
-5: Morikawa, Dahmen
-4: Buckley, Rahm, McIlroy, Wise, Hossler
-3: Hardy, Scheffler, NeSmith, Rodgers, Harman
-2: Burns, Fitzpatrick, Hadwin
-1: Daffue, Tarren, Vick (a), Lingmerth, Riley, Schauffele, Bradley, Zalatoris
… here’s a selected list of players who missed the cut …
Sergio Garcia, Im Sung-jae, Mito Pereira, Cory Conners, Webb Simpson, Shane Lowry, Jason Kokrak, Jim Furyk, Cameron Young, Stewart Cink, Kevin Na, Tony Finau, Kim Si-woo, Daniel Berger, Harold Varner III, Branden Grace, Cameron Smith, Louis Oosthuizen, Francesco Molinari, Viktor Hovland, Tommy Fleetwood and Phil Mickelson
… and here are today’s tee times (all times local, add five hours for BST). It’s on!
09:49 (a) Stewart Hagestad, Joseph Bramlett
10:00 Patrick Cantlay, Sebastian Munoz (Col)
10:11 (a) Sam Bennett, Denny McCarthy
10:22 Kyoung-Hoon Lee (Kor), Samuel Stevens
10:33 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Min-Woo Lee (Aus)
10:44 Chris Naegel, Chris Gotterup
10:55 Guido Migliozzi (Ita), Grayson Murray
11:06 Max Homa, Adam Scott (Aus)
11:22 Wil Besseling (Ned), Jordan Spieth
11:33 Richard Bland (Eng), Todd Sinnott (Aus)
11:44 Bryson DeChambeau, Harris English
11:55 (a) Austin Greaser, Gary Woodland
12:06 Mackenzie Hughes (Can), Cameron Tringale
12:17 Marc Leishman (Aus), Joaquin Niemann (Chi)
12:28 Patrick Reed, Sebastian Soederberg (Swe)
12:39 Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose (Eng)
12:55 Seamus Power (Irl), Justin Thomas
13:06 Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Adam Schenk
13:17 Brandon Matthews, Andrew Putnam
13:28 Joo-Hyung Kim (Kor), Brooks Koepka
13:39 Thomas Pieters (Bel), Will Zalatoris
13:50 Keegan Bradley, Xander Schauffele
14:01 Davis Riley, David Lingmerth (Swe)
14:12 Callum Tarren (Eng), (a) Travis Vick
14:28 MJ Daffue (Rsa), Adam Hadwin (Can)
14:39 Sam Burns, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng)
14:50 Brian Harman, Patrick Rodgers
15:01 Matthew NeSmith, Scottie Scheffler
15:12 Beau Hossler, Nick Hardy
15:23 Rory McIlroy (NIrl), Aaron Wise
15:34 Hayden Buckley, Jon Rahm (Spa)
15:45 Joel Dahmen, Collin Morikawa